Spit and Spirits

Man. You’re A Real Mate

with 2 comments

The other day I witnessed one of the most masculine displays of emotional outpouring I’ve ever seen. That’s right, masculine and emotional. Some say those two words don’t mix, like mixed-netball and enjoyment, but after what I saw I can guarantee you they do.

To be fair to my argument the man getting all emotional was Hugh Jackman. That guy could be getting a man-Brazilian and make it look blokey – except when he dances. Stop the dancing Hugh. Stop that right now. It was during a 60 minutes interview and after being asked a few questions about his father he began to tear up. Rather than stopping or trying to hide the tears, he wiped them away and said “Sorry mate,” to the interviewer and continued on.


Oh to be that manly. Oh to be that manly and emotional while still sounding like a feet-dug-in-the-ground, compassionate Australian. That moment, for me, epitomized how the modern Australian man should be portrayed. But it made me realise that I could never be like Hugh because of one very simple fact – I don’t call people mate.

I know. Weird, isn’t it? Here I am, an Australian male heading towards my 40s who has, I think, an ok grip on my masculinity and I don’t call people mate. How did this happen? When did I make that choice?

I think perhaps it has a little to do with my generation. I’m generation X. Our teenage years were brimming with Beavis and Butt Head, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Point Break. Calling people man and dude was the normal salutation, and it’s flowed through into my adult life. I’ve noticed plenty of other guys around my age doing the same. “Hey dude,” or “Hey man,” is a completely acceptable way to greet someone, but it doesn’t have the manly grunt behind it that “Hey mate,” does. I want the manly grunt. I want it so bad.

I think maybe another reason ‘mate’ has gone unused in my life is that my stepfather doesn’t use it so I didn’t pick up the habit. Or maybe he does but not really around the family, which would make sense because I’ve noticed these days you don’t call people you love or are very close to mate. It seems the whole, your mate is your closest friend thing, doesn’t really apply anymore.

You don’t call someone you know on a first name basis, mate. Mate now is reserved for strangers or people you’re getting angry at, like, “Mate, can’t you see me on my scooter!” or, “Mate, I said I wanted a decaf, low-fat, latté, because I’m caffeine sensitive and full-fat cream makes me fart heaps,” or perhaps, “No mate, or course my cat isn’t digging in your herb garden, maybe the possums have started burying their feces too.”

These days if you want to say hello to someone you know quite well you don’t even use his or her name. You know their name, they know you know their name, so usually just a ‘hey’ suffices. To call someone mate kind of means you don’t know them or have probably forgotten their name or even if you know them at all.

I can’t help but feel that calling people mate is a glaring, missing part of my Australian masculinity. And I don’t mean I want to walk around like a testical swinging bloke with a mullet, tatts and a habit of walking through the local mall with a handgun tucked into the back my shorts.

I just want to be like Hugh.

From now on I’m going to start calling people mate. I’ve tried it a few times and admit that it feels a little odd. It comes out kind of small and tentative, like a child’s handwriting if they’ve always been told they’re a terrible speller. But I’m determined to keep at it. So if I see you and I call you mate, and you know full well I know your name, it’s not because I can’t remember who your are, it’s just that I’m trying to be damn well more Australian.

Cheers mate.


Written by Jake Fox

April 4, 2013 at 9:33 am

2 Responses

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  1. You’ll get there – mate 🙂


    April 4, 2013 at 11:04 am

  2. Hey, mate, don’t call me mate.


    April 4, 2013 at 11:42 am

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