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Column: Mind(less) games

Posted: September 24, 2018 4:03 p.m.
Updated: September 25, 2018 1:00 a.m.

It’s kind of funny, the lengths we guys go to hurt ourselves sometimes, all in the name of fun.

I’m not talking about random, garden-variety ways of injuring ourselves, like playing tackle football in a gravel parking lot or frying bacon in the nude. I’m thinking about some of the things we come up with out of sheer boredom, or under the influence of an adult beverage or 10, or some combination thereof, all in the name of good, clean American fun.

I’ll give you an example. Once, many eyars ago at a Super Bowl party, I watched as a couple of otherwise fairly intelligent friends of mine came up with this gem of an impromptu contest. It basically involved a fresh beverage and a crusty old waterlogged Nerf football. The rules were simple. Each guy would take his beverage to a far corner of the room and sit down, legs and arms spread wide. One would take the football and do his dead level best to heave a burning hot buttonhook-style short pass with the football directly at another’s, um, brains -- and by brains I mean, “not the gray matter protected by the cranium, but another portion of anatomy, located slightly  farther south, with which guys often make important decisions,” if you get my drift. Since adult beverages were involved in this, most of those burning throws would miss --  but some wouldn’t, with predictable results, i.e., the player hit with the football would be rolling around cupping his brain with his hands while searing and moaning in pain, while the rest of the players rolled around holding their ribs, laughing hysterically.

This game -- invented about four beverages into the game itself and a beverage and a half into halftime -- not only proved to be far more entertaining than the rest of the football game, but would last until well into the wee hours.

I don’t know where such impulses originate, I only know they tend to manifest in the male of the species only – or rather, the guy of the species. There is a difference, as the great science writer Dave Barry first documented several years ago. Basically, the term “male” only scientifically identifies gender orientation; the term “guy” defines a state of male mind, or mindlessness, depending on who you ask. It’s the same frame of mind that has us guys laughing helplessly at such highbrow art cinema as The Three Stooges, Tom and Jerry, and the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote.

As I’ve said many times, I know almost no women who find the stooges remotely funny and I know almost no guys who don’t.  Indeed, I think back to the time I was watching the movie “Borat” at home alone. My Beloved walked into the house during an especially intense moment -- I was lying on the floor, having fallen off the couch, gasping, tears running down my face, unable to communicate at all the source of my momentary paroxysm. After I recovered and tried to tell her, she sat down to watch with me but left after about 30 seconds shaking her head, no doubt amazed that she had managed to wind up married to such a moron.

Laughing at such things, of course, is normal for us guys. But occasionally, problems can arise when life attempts to imitate art. Thank the good lord for that most marvelous of modern educational wonders, the homemade YouTube video. There is so much to be learned from these things and so little time. You can find anything! I’ve seen videos on how to remove wasp nests from gutters using an empty garden hose and a Roman candle, how to make homemade rocket skates, how to launch a pumpkin a half mile with a catapult and countless other useful things I would never have even thought to try on my own.

I think about the guy from the Flat Earth Society who recently built a homemade rocket, the better to prove not only that science is wrong about that whole bluemarble thing but also that we don’t need NASA to get to space. Finally, after years of wrangling with the government, he finally got permission to launch it on public property. And we have his entire journey, from launch site to the landing zone 300 yards away where an ambulance subsequently picked him up after re-entry – all on YouTube!

In fact, as soon as I finish writing this, I’m going to look up how to build a homemade pressure washer using a vacuum cleaner, a grill flicker and a gas can.

Won’t my Beloved be surprised when she sees that…


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