Welcome back to another episode of The Art of Manliness Podcast! We took a break these past few weeks because of the Thanksgiving holiday here in the States, but we’re back with another dose of manliness. This week we return to our series called Man Stories, where every other week we interview a different gentleman and ask him what it means to be a man.
This week our guest is Carlos Infante who resides in Mexico, City Mexico. Thanks for taking part in the interview, Carlos!
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Brett McKay: Brett McKay here, and welcome to another episode of The Art of Manliness podcast. Well, we’ve taken a brief break from the podcast for the past two weeks with the holidays and some other things going on, didn’t have time for it, but we are back and we are returning with our series called Man Stories, where every other week we interview a different gentleman and ask him what it means to be a man. And this week, our guest is Carlos Infante. Carlos, welcome to the show.
Carlos Infante: Thanks for having me, Brett. Well, I am Carlos Infante. I was born in Mexico City, I am 30 and I am a business manager, but I am currently unemployed, so I have a lot of free time right now.
Brett McKay: Wow. So I guess you are facing a problem that a lot of men are facing these days with being unemployed with the bad economy and everything. How’s the job search going?
Carlos Infante: Well, there are lots of vacancies, but not many people call me. So I attended few interviews and those that I had, they seemed promising, but nothing happened after that.
Brett McKay: Yeah, tough break. Well, I wish you good luck with that. Carlos, are you ready to get started with your questions?
Carlos Infante: Yep.
Brett McKay: Okay, Carlos. When do you feel like you became a man?
Carlos Infante: Well, it’s pretty complicated because sometimes I don’t feel like a man because I am not treated like one at home. Unlike a lot of Americans, you know, that leave home after college or get a job or whatever, mostly Mexicans stay at home with their families for a while because pay is very bad, so you really can’t get an income that allow you to rent an apartment. So mostly I stay at home with my family, and my parents sometimes treat me like a child. Sometimes, I get punished or they threat punishment.
But I think I became a man or I felt like that I became a man after a series of events that happened around 2000 to 2003. Actually, I felt like a man after I graduated college because getting my degree was a very tough bumpy road. I graduated high school in 1998, I got my degree in 2006, that was like eight years of a very tough, tough, tough break. I got expelled from college because of my grades. I had no sense of direction of what I wanted to do really. I didn’t know who I was, I mean what I really wanted to do. So I had a lot of this issue running around my head that I really wasn’t focusing on important things.
So because of grades, I got expelled, tried it again and got expelled again because of grade. My dad was really mad and finally he just wanted me to take job which I really didn’t like. And when I finally got back to studying in the summer of 2003, I felt like I’ve gone through hell and survived it and I felt a lot stronger. I am much more matured than when I started the journey. By the time I graduated, I remember my dad brining me out for celebratory dinner and I just cried at one point because I thought finally all I went through, I’ve finally graduated from college and whatever comes, it won’t be as bad as the past few years had been.
Brett McKay: So graduating college was kind of that moment where you felt like you accomplished something and you really felt like you became a man then?
Carlos Infante: Yeah. Really, the whole experience, the whole journey is like that moment which my point of view of life really changed. So then only, I felt like success is not something so easily achieved which a lot of people want or seem to get, it just felt a lot more valuable savoring success after going through a lot of obstacle.
Brett McKay: That’s really interesting, Carlos. Thanks for sharing that with us. Carlos, so on to our next question, what does manliness mean to you?
Carlos Infante: To me, it really means responsibility for oneself firstly and then for others. If you are not responsible for yourself, take care of yourself, how can you later on in life be responsible for a family. If you don’t value who you are, if you don’t take care of yourself, if you don’t assume that concept one step of your actions, to me that’s what being man really is and perhaps also being committed to whatever it is you promise.
Brett McKay: Very interesting. And Carlos, you know, you are from Mexico and one thing that people often talked about in Mexico and other Latin American countries is machismo. What’s your experience with machismo? Is it something that not a lot of people have or are you trying to battle against them? What’s your experience with machismo?
Carlos Infante: It has changed a bit since the old days when that was sort of like value, especially during the 1940s, 1930s that they are sort of stirred up that sort of became widely known but it does exist, but mostly I felt it exists mostly in the lower class, not so much in the middle class and the higher classes.
Brett McKay: Yeah.
Carlos Infante: It basically comes because of the sort of values that they had been taught, middle class is much more educated. So they are more open to modern ideas than the lower classes. Well, they don’t have that level of education and culture. So that probably was mostly mark.
Brett McKay: Okay. Well, Carlos, what men in your life, it can be living, dead, or even fictional, what men have influenced your view of manliness?
Carlos Infante: My granddad has been a very big influence on me. My father in the sense that he is a very responsible man, he’s got a work ethic, I mean he has been working since 1968, so he is really addicted to work in essence, but he tries his best to provide us all with our basic needs. Probably philosophically, I have been influenced by George Orwell. I’ve read 1984, Nineteen Eighty Four, Animal Farm, and a lot of his essays and even his war journal and philosophically, he has been a big influence on me. He is like my favorite writer.
Recently, John Steinbeck has influenced in my view of work after I read The Grapes of Wrath. I felt that when he described the importance of the farmers and how they love their land and their work and how machines don’t really have that concept or the people that run the tractors and that sort of what I think about job anywhere that it’s something you would do, I mean it doesn’t matter if it’s a thankless job. As long as you do it and you are a part of it, you should be proud of it. That’s all that really matters then. John Steinbeck really has influenced me, but mostly my granddad.
Brett McKay: Yeah. In what ways has your granddad influenced you?
Carlos Infante: Well, his life has been a bit of an inspiration to me because he has done this, what I think are amazing things and I think he has ever thought of them as being amazing. He lived in a different time then than I did so that’s fascinating in a different times, different cultural value. Even basically much more simpler time I think because they didn’t depend too much on technology, so they took things day-by-day, you know, slowly. He reads a lot and I think I’ve got that love for reading from him and from my dad.
Music, I remember when I was 14-15, he still has his old record player and he buys some old records from just old records and my mom’s old records and we will listen to music. Jazz was one of his favorite. His favorite record was probably Time Out by The Dave Brubeck Quartet and so that type of music has entered my consciousness because before that I don’t think I would have heard jazz until my grandfather. Old movies back in the old, around that time they used to show old movies on TV, so I was introduced to a world of classic Hollywood thing.
Brett McKay: I don’t know if you ever watched any of the old Mexican films as well from that time, the 1930s and 1940s. There are lots of good ones from that time period as well.
Carlos Infante: Yeah, I actually have watched a lot of those. They are very good movies. I think the quality comes from the fact that there was a lot of censorship back in those days. So filmmakers had to find ingenious ways to tell a story without being crude or doing things that– nowadays it seemed like unnecessary, I mean sex scenes seem to me like if they don’t add anything to the plot, then why have them.
Brett McKay: Yeah. Well Carlos, you talked about this a little bit already, but how did your father influenced your conception of manliness?
Carlos Infante: Well, my father, I don’t think he really has as much influence as my granddad because technically he has been sort of like an absentee dad. He works a lot, but we hardly had growing up a lot of father and son moment. I lived in the States for a while and I was at Boys Scout, but my dad wasn’t really involved in that, my mom was but not my dad, not as much as my mom was. But he did teach me my values, did learn my values from my dad. My appreciation for literature, he reads a lot and of course he pushes us to read as well as he is a very well informed man. So we really tend to talk about a variety of subject.
Brett McKay: Very good. Carlos, one thing we talked about on the website sometimes is about how man our age, twenties, thirties didn’t learn some of the skills our grandfathers knew or our dads know. Is there one thing your dad can do or your grandfather could do that you can’t?
Carlos Infante: Well, my dad can multitask. It’s amazing. I used to hear my dad teaches my aunt. He used to tell stories about when he was a kid. He could actually watch TV, read a book, listen to the radio and do his homework, something like that. I mean it’s amazing. He is a very smart man, a hardworking man and I think the thing that impressed me the most is the fact that he can solve people’s problems, at least professional problems. He has had a few jobs in the past few years where basically the companies aren’t that good. He just comes in and changes everything or as much as he can. Cost-effectiveness, he does it. It’s amazing. He’s very smart, so a very smart man.
Brett McKay: Very cool. And Carlos, last question, what’s the hardest thing you have ever done as a man, either emotionally, physically, intellectually in your life?
Carlos Infante: Well, this basically takes us back to the first answer, just surviving those eight years of getting into college. I mean, 2000 to 2002 are totally the most difficult year I ever had because my dad wasn’t really supporting me or guided me. I was totally lost and I had my mom to support me, but most of the time it was just me trying to come out of this hole I was in and really know who I was and what I wanted to do. That was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever gone through.
Brett McKay: Are there any lessons that you’ve taken away from that experience?
Carlos Infante: Definitely. One of the things that I actually learned is not to have regret. If my life took me there, if my choices took me there to that particular situation, then instead of looking back and saying, I wish I had done things differently, I’ll just go ahead and say, well, I’ll do things differently from now on, but not really look back at what could have been, but what is, and slowly I have no regrets anymore. I used to have regrets even before that about…oh I wish I’ve done things differently, but I learned that I experienced that there are no worries, either you learn from the past and not obsessed with it, but take those lessons and move forward is much better than just holding on to something that is counterproductive.
Brett McKay: Well, Carlos, thank you for your time. It’s been very interesting talking to you and it’s been a pleasure.
Carlos Infante: The pleasure is mine.
Brett McKay: That wraps up another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. For more manly tips and advice, check back at The Art of Manliness website at www.artofmanliness.com. And until next week, stay manly.