Rating Downtown Knoxville's Manly Men

How I love festival season: The culture of Dogwood Arts, the sensuality of Rossini, and the hangover cure that is the International Biscuit. A street-side table at the Downtown Grill and Brewery revealed last night that such events are merely a front disguising a more important rite of spring: the Man Parade. On certain unannounced evenings, a coven of the fairer sex assembles here to discreetly critique—and award fine-ass man status to—some of downtown's working stiffs. Such folderol is of significant import to the community, as it is dedicated to understanding what it is that makes a great man great.

A tanned, tucked blonde gulped her Bacardi and pouted. "There ain't a man worth anything around here," she said.

Bull pucky.

The Knoxville buffet boasts a marvelous selection of manly casseroles, covering the spectrum from single to married and from BFFs to blatant objects of affection. In an effort to fulfill my community service this month, I highlight a few for consideration.

Let us begin with bartender-slash-hipster Rabbit, who shakes a smart Campari cocktail at said Brewery. You may remember his Cary Grant glasses and magnificently inked arms from a previous column. Yes, he said it was okay to announce he is single. And yes, Rabbit is really his nickname. I dare not ask why. Rabbit serves beers up to my adopted brother, the man in black. His genius mind is buttressed with perfect cheekbones and he radiates humility. Humble is definitely the new hot.

Three rounds of drinks have us considering other hotness qualifiers. Mystery counts, without question. Consider the man at the next table who shares his name with a United States president. This clothes-horse and music lover is always in the company of beautiful women half his age. His occupation remains an enigma to all who know him. I am sure he is diamond broker or a manufacturer of false passports. He has traveled everywhere, drops key phrases in multiple languages, and has a shock of long white hair rivaling Pegasus.

Hollywood has long enjoyed fraternal man-candy. For example, see the cast of Ocean's Eleven (both Clooney and Sinatra's version). Our Smoky Mountain Rat Pack stars a dynamic duo who hike Mount Sterling as if they were on lunch recess. The elder brother is tricky, as you would not think him old enough to have served as an MP in Vietnam. Once, I covertly grazed his flannelled bicep; it rivaled Ryan Gosling's. He is debt-free, tells funnier-than-hell stories, and makes dynamite chicken chili. Muy caliente.

The younger brother has a Charlie Brown smile, Atticus Finch walk, and prefers the outdoors to the suits his job requires. The judges awarded extra points because he hunted raccoons to help support his widowed mother when he was in high school. Rumor has it he can quote Thomas Jefferson and sonnets in Portuguese. Boo-yah!

Our waitress returned and I wistfully ordered a tall French coffee. Has the table decided on a recipe for K-Town swagger? We could agree on equal parts smarts, loyalty, and compassion. But we are deadlocked as to the description of the X factor that makes up unpredictable originality; a reason to check our iPhones for a date to reconvene. Once again we will have to give our all in order to scope out the local talent, throw back a cocktail, and ponder the mysteries of the social universe.

A nibby-nosed man wearing a lot of Brut (Really, buddy? Brut?) dips in to ask if "we ladies" are blatantly objectifying men. I'll tell you what, Mr. Quagmire: As soon as the parking lots of Hooters are empty rather than jammed every day of the week, the judges will consider your argument. Until then, case dismissed.