“Whatever you want.”
It’s one of those phrases that you kind of need to hear out loud, or at least in context, in order to know how to interpret it. If I was an acting coach (thankfully for actors, I am not), I’d assign it to my students as an exercise:
“Say it like an impatient waitress with a stubby pencil tucked behind her ear.”
“Say it like a babysitter who is down to conspire against the tyranny of bedtimes.”
“Say it like a butler, propping open the doors to a majestic room full of flavored seltzer.”
A couple of weeks ago, the Man Repeller editorial and creative teams talked with many longtime (and more recent and about-to-be-first-time) contributors—and we turned it into a question:
What’s a story you’ve always wanted to make or share but haven’t yet? Maybe you thought it was too out there? Too niche? Too far outside of your usual beat?
For most of us, entertaining this idea is an option so infrequently offered that when it is bestowed upon us we draw a blank. (Case in point: the Saturday spiral.) But I have personally found that entertaining this idea of what I would do if I could do whatever I want is essential every now and then. In my own life, the entertaining has often been forced upon me when I’ve had to reckon with change that’s out of my control: the end of a romantic relationship, a job, an apartment lease, etc. etc. etc. In those moments, life can feel like a dog giddily dropping a dead bird out of its mouth onto my feet. “This is a present for you, clearly,” life says, slobbering.
But I did not come here on this Monday morning to talk about dead birds! I’m here to offer some context about what we mean when we say it’s “Whatever You Want” week on Man Repeller: We mean that this week the MR team, along with contributors past and future, are taking the opportunity to stretch in ways that are exciting to us. It’s an experiment that will help show us how and where Man Repeller’s content can grow—one that relies on feeling rather than the analytics and algorithms and other digital tools (I mean “tools” in the pejorative sense, wink) that tend to derail us on the path to Whatever We Want. The things you’ll read and see will run the gamut from new ways to think about style, reflective personal writing and photography, and, of course, the odd impassioned essay about something you never realized you were also very passionate about until somebody gave you the wild-eyed suggestion to be.
And because it wouldn’t be a theme announcement without a question for you: What’s something you’ve always wanted to read on Man Repeller but haven’t asked us to cover because you thought it was too out there? Too niche? Too far outside of our usual beat?
Graphic by Lorenza Centi.