Kevin prowled the Laguna-adjacent storefront studio, which was outfitted in top-of-the-line cameras, mixing boards, and iMacs, while ministering to the thousand or so men currently in the program. He was good. Real good. The man knew from proselytization. Making me nervous. Does that work? Kevin worked with the man in unknotting his fearful decision-making processes. One such stuck guy beamed in from Australia to detail his marriage problems.
Never do we have the thought that maybe our wives know what our wives want. So fucking simple! We have this crazy fucking story that women are so complicated and difficult to understand. Listen , and ask questions. Place your own needs last, but take care of yourself so that you might take care of those less able or advantaged. Never blame others for your own feelings.
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Or failings. Protect the weak. Respect your elders. Be kind and generous, but be firm with your boundaries.
Try new things, learn new skills, make yourself as well-rounded as possible. Be open to changing your mind, but be careful not to change it too often. When you feel ready to give up, try just a little longer. Try a little longer the time after that. The fact that something so remedial exists , and is patronized by a growing number of men, is less an indictment of the state of masculinity though it absolutely is that than it is a sign that some guys, at least, are sick and tired of being schlongs.
The role it offers men is the traditional one, the one that used to be free, commonsensical, and upheld by a larger community. These men are paying for instruction, true, but they are also paying for a community of like-minded men to hold them to a standard. The idea that you deepen a dude by narrowing him. I could quote some Aristotle in which the ancient argues for something similar. These men are clamoring for virtue , I think.
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You have to choose to cultivate it. Kevin closed the minute broadcast with the Brotherhood Boardroom, in which he dispensed Warrior-approved parenting advice to three besuited men FaceTiming during their lunch break. And I was so fucking proud. To the point right now of tears.
Following sign-off, he held a short rap session with the two-man film crew. All offered suggestions as to what could be improved going forward. Then they group hugged. The office, detailed in black and chrome, with a faint acrid smell emanating from the rubberized flooring, contained 18 stools arranged around a projection screen. There, the men were shown an extended infomercial for the brotherhood.
The recruits saw their blood, sweat, and tears spliced between testimonials by the grateful wives and daughters of previous Warrior Week attendees, all of whom appeared to be Lamborghini-driving pinky-ring wearers from Scottsdale. Big boss Garrett popped up on-screen in his usual too-tight suit. In front of a white backdrop, he unlocked a small case and withdrew a pistol. He talked a lot of strange nonsense quickly—about tools, using tools but not turning into tools, things like that.
The music cut out.
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He led them in their ten thousandth visualization exercise. Picture your new life to come, the riches and fulfillment, he said. Then, in a quieter voice, he asked them to raise their hands if they were prepared to fully commit to Warrior. All but one recruit did.
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He ordered them to file outside. Though the video was pretaped, not live, Garrett had a few things to say to him. In the empty parking lot, the recruits tearfully embraced Kevin, Sam, the rest of the coaches, one another. The people closest to them would be most critical of all. But the new Warriors were to keep their heads high, their upper lips stiff. He joined the formation. Sam led them in the ritual bequeathment of a new black track jacket to be added to their uniform.
No one but me paid any heed to the rusty sedan that pulled up, the puzzled custodians who entered the Dawgy Style Groom Shop next door.
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Fresh tears fell. Warrior Week ended with a formal. Sunburnt faces were radiating heat—as well as immense relief—like desert rocks at dusk. The recruits, support staff, and alumni all cleaned up, noshed on a slider buffet in the wine cellar of the Monarch Beach Resort. Garrett himself was in the wine cellar to shake hands, having just flown in from Tampa, Florida.
Many of the assembled were failing to stifle their coughs. And their boys will only know the way. Garrett then called up the youngest members of the brotherhood, including his own year-old son. Nikon made a finger pistol and told the room to freeze. After dinner, I was granted a short audience with Garrett on the sidewalk outside the wine cellar. I asked what such a future Warrior might look like. We will become the number-one training company in the world. Warrior will be taught around the country by the men who go through the program; they will create splinter cells. As Garrett explained all this, a young family began to pass us by.
The father stopped. The wife thought he was looking past us into the cellar. Pleasure to meet you, man. She sighed heavily. The family walked on. Garrett turned back to me, big smile on his face. Into the money markets. The political systems. The religious systems. Back inside, the brothers were being led through half a dozen ad hoc rites meant to cement their fealty to the brotherhood.
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They gave speeches while a sweeping Hans Zimmer soundtrack played. This time, it was from Gladiator ; over the previous three days, the staff had played selections from The Dark Knight for dramatic effect. Brother, the power I see in you is your newfound devotion to your family. They rotated clockwise like the teeth on a chain saw. Brother, the power I see in you is a commitment to love and honor every person you come across. Brother, the power I see in you is the power to keep me walking the right path.
And all of that other bullshit—the advanced-interrogation techniques, the coercive culty shakedown—I could overlook all that in this moment.