Automotive (with a tip of the hat to Aaron):
-- Taking an old car afficionado for a ride in the 1914 Kissel Kar with a clutch that sticks and having him complement me on how smoothly I shifted the crashbox transmission.
-- Double-clutch downshifting same.
Comments from others:
-- Taking my new romantic interest -- an executive for an international investment banking firm -- out to dinner, paying for everything and hearing her tell me how feminine it makes her feel. Did I mention she's a beauty?
-- Noticing a group of good-looking women surreptitiously watching and talking about you.
-- Your lawyer friend commenting enviously about your mint vintage watch that represents an investment of less than $1000.
-- Wearing a tool belt for work every day (damn, I miss that!).
-- Framing with a 28 oz. waffle-headed hammer.
-- Having same bounce off a rafter while framing a roof and having the claws catch you right under the eye and open up a hole in your face. The ultra-macho guy you're working with telling you how jealous he is that you now have a scar that chicks will dig.
-- Designing and building a custom built-in cabinet for a customer and having the customer tell you afterwards that your work is worth every penny.
-- Paying your living expenses during five years of Ivy League education by running your own business.
Academic (vis-a-vis thesis):
-- Pacing yourself throughout the semester by devoting one day a week to working on nothing else, creating a masterpiece, being the only student that year to get a solid A on a thesis. Being awarded departmental honors upon graduation.
-- Taking off in the tube.
-- Consistently pulling off late takeoffs on a 50 lb. single-fin 9'6" on an epic day. Later being told by your buddys that you're "insane."
-- Catching the first wave you go for the first time you try a new custom board.
-- Catching the first wave of a massive set, then getting dragged across the reef by the remaining waves while caught inside and suffering multiple coral injuries on a remote Indonesian island without even rudimentary first aid. Not letting it keep you out of the water.
-- Being able to say, when asked, that you got that scar surfing.
-- Going back to your old surfing haunts after many years away and people you've never met have heard of you.
-- Charging so hard that you fracture three ribs and don't even notice until the drive home. Being voted "rookie of the year" by your friends.
-- Placing first in your class in a major race.
-- Building your own cedar-strip sea kayak.
Finally, with a tip of the hat to John April:
-- Finishing Rohatsu. (Sit perfectly still and silent until you become intimately aquainted with your bone marrow, and all these manly pursuits will be seen in proper perspective.)
Most manly of all: Bragging rights.