If asked who my most influential role model was growing up, I would have to admit it was Bond, James Bond.
Dr No, the first Bond movie, was released in 1962 when I was ten years old. Luckily my aunt had (I believe) a crush on Sean Connery so she took me to every Bond movie that came out. A local drive-in theater would hold special "dusk-to-dawn" showings of triple features of Bond movies. At that age, I could even stay awake all night. Over the years, I've watched all the Bond flicks - even the agonizingly bad ones with Roger Moore.
Ah, James Bond. What young farm boy would not want to be like him? His manly good looks, hairy chest, sensitive eyes, witty repartee, mischievous smile, and Scottish burr. His ability to fight, to make love, to drive fast cars, to scuba dive, to infallibly fling his hat on to the office coat rack. How he always overcame all odds and cut the bomb's wire the second before it would detonate.* His knowledge of wine, diamonds, and espionage gadgets. I didn't know what a martini even was in those days, let alone why one that is shaken rather than stirred might be better. Ah, to be the James Bond of Sac County, Iowa. One could only dream as one drove the tractor up and down the soy bean fields.
I practiced "Johnson, Doug Johnson" but it just didn't have the same ring. I didn't think my dad would appreciate an ejector seat in the pickup truck either.
When Connery, the original and best Bond, died last October, I decided to do a review of his Bond films, in chronological order of their release. So far, I've watched the first three.
And I am pretty horrified.
Bond was a smoker. A drinker. While I saw nothing overtly racist, parts given to minority actors were minor or villainous (Dr. No and his henchman for example.) Lesbians were easily converted to heterosexuality (Pussy Galore). He didn't wear a seat belt and seemed to shoot first and ask questions later.
But his most grievous attribute was how he treated women, of course. One smoldering stare and any woman would gladly thrust herself into his arms and then his bed. If the glance didn't quite do it, a forced kiss would bring her about. Even office co-worker Miss Moneypenny was not exempt from his attentions. I learned quite early in my dating career that undesired physical attention was indeed undesired - and undesirable. I was a quick study.
The Bond of the 1960s would today be brought up on sexual harassment charges faster than he could drive his Aston Martin. As well he should be. Bond was (and is) a fantasy figure and even as a kid, I probably would not have wanted him around any female family members. Recognizing our societal norm shift on male/female relations I suppose I can attribute to 40+ years of on-the-job mutli-cultural/gender fair training. No, I was never singled out for special attention in this regard, but attended along with the rest of the school staff on professional development days.
Old guys like me are often called out for lapses in politically correct language and behaviors. And for the most part, at least in my case, the corrections are usually needed. But I do hope younger folks remember that many of us must overcome views of masculinity that were formed in our most impressionable years.
And there are still times I wish I could have been 008.
* The last Mission Impossible movie Fallout 2018 has the same suspenseful use of the countdown clock being disabled only at the last second.