Some people say you tell a real Mattapan Man by his smell. He has the scent of honest, hard work about him. It is the kind of musk that makes women weak in the knees. Some people say you can tell a real Mattapan Man by the look in his eye, a flinty gaze that takes the measure of its surroundings and can tell fool's gold from the real thing in a glance. Some people say it is all in the posture. A real Mattapan Man holds himself upright with a spine like a rifle barrel that won't bend no matter how hard the winds of misfortune blow. Other people say it is the Mattapan Man's overall build that gives him away. A Mattapan Man is lean and muscled like he has spent every one of his adult days swinging a hammer, pushing a broom, balancing accounts in an oversized ledger, or just getting whatever job done that needs doing. A real Mattapan Man can wrestle Fate to a draw and then come out on top after another round.
When a Mattapan Man stands up, his knees pop and his vertebrae creak. He cracks his knuckles. He is full of true grit.
Back Bay socialites sigh with envy when they learn one of their girlfriends has netted a Mattapan Man. Is it because a Mattapan Man is a good provider? Loyal? Trusworthy? Gracious? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. These are common characteristics among Mattapan Men, but they aren't the whole story. A Mattapan Man is what women dream of in ways lesser men cannnot imagine. Most men aren't qualified to carry a real Mattapan Man's luggage to a taxi cab.
In 1998, Playgirl magazine published an issue featuring a photo spread entitled "The Men of Mattapan, Mass." The issue sold out quickly and rightly so. It can't be purchased on eBay. The ladies who bought that magazine are hoarding their well-fingered copies in penthouses, tenements and mid-western farmsteads nurturing a dream that someday they will know the company of a real Mattapan Man. The women of Mattapan know they are lucky.