“The Men’s Club”
Brotherhood is exclusive, not universal.
35 years ago, men rarely sought out each other’s company outside of a sporting event, a bar, or a bachelor party. While women were leaning on each other and seeking camaraderie in Mommy & Me events, book clubs, and aerobic classes, men went to work, fulfilled family obligations, and briefly escaped to society sanctioned events which did not generally include meeting at one of their homes for a men’s club get together. So, when a group of seven men – a retired professional basketball player, a tax accountant, a lawyer, two psychotherapists, and two college professors – come together to form a men’s club – “a regular social possibility outside of our jobs and marriages,” there is curiosity and reluctance to take a road less traveled, as depicted in the fictional novel, The Men’s Club.
Written by Leonard Michaels – an American writer of essays, short stories, and novels – and published in 1978 (although many accounts also report the book was published in 1981), The Men’s Club takes place over one evening and early morning at the home of 38-year old psychotherapist Harry Kramer, in Berkley, California. The seven men (in their 30’s and 40’s) gather and at first appear to be mature, responsible human beings but quickly deteriorate to cave men. Once they start telling each other their stories and secrets – mostly about their love-hate relationship with women – all decorum falls by the wayside.
There is drinking, smoking, fighting, laughing, and plenty of testosterone charged moments in which the members fight to be the alpha in the group. Equally horrifying and funny, The Men’s Club is a walk inside the heads of men marching towards middle age in fraternity wear, who briefly forget how to be real men.
A men’s club didn’t exclude women. It also didn’t exclude kangaroos. It included only men.