Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Manly Affection: Part 2

My brothers were my rough introduction to the world of manly etiquette. They, along with my older sister, continually teased, mocked, abused, and tortured me. As I grew up, I realized that their constant, often savage cruelties were really a primer on the multi-faceted, almost labyrinthine world of manly affection.

My sister, though, was just being mean.

NOTE: I was asked how come I needed therapy to get over the ‘pillow’ incident and yet I saw verbal abuse as affectionate. The answer is simple: I did not get the therapy because of the pillow throwing, but because I developed a deep, almost paralyzing fear of couches.

We men are complex creatures. To the casual observer, we might be considered simple or even bestial, as we’re often unable to dress ourselves and insist on clubbing our food before we eat it, even the TV dinners. Yet this uncouth, barbaric exterior belies a delicate, sensitive inner world full of rainbows, puppies, bacon, and poetry about boobs. This dichotomy is central to our manly persona, as we are taught that the world is a rough, terrible place full of snakes and couches and that we must present a tough exterior and keep our feelings buried deep, deep inside ourselves, like little emotional miners trapped in a cave in with no hope of rescue.

Thus, the only way to show affection to another male is to invert it and replace it with base insults. Here’s a typical exchange:

Bob: “Jeez, Frank. Did something crawl up your butt and die?”

Frank: “Nah, I just figured you were more at home someplace that smelled like an outhouse.”

Bob: “Actually, I was more at home last night with your wife.”

Frank: “She’s in Florida with her sister. That was the dog.”

To the casual onlooker, it would seem like these two men were bitter enemies, when in reality, they’re the best of friends. It all becomes clear if you know what the exchange meant, rather than what was said:

Bob: “My heart is heavy, noble friend, for it seems that all the injustices of this bitter globe have been heaped upon me.”

Frank: “I weep for thee, my bosom companion. Were it in my power, I would put steel to thy ills, so they could trouble thee no more.”

Bob: “Thou art indeed a true friend and ally, good sir Frank. Merely the sound of thy voice gives me enough strength to lift the heaviest of burdens.”

Frank: “If only I could do more, my brother. Thy pain is great, but thou need’st only say one word, and to thy side I will spring, like a hart across the glen.”

Bob: “I am filled with hope, my fellow in arms. Let us away then, to the theatre, where comely lasses do gyrate upon stanchions of brass in a provocative fashion.”

Frank: “Lead on, gentle Bob. Lead on.”

As you can clearly see, on the surface, Bob and Frank are openly hostile, yet this masks an inner respect and deep, abiding friendship. The exchange of insults is not a crude display of dominance or the remnants of a pack mentality, but a delicate dance of feeling and empathy, masked in fart jokes and gutter humor.

So, next time you hear two men calling each other names, listen past the jibes and insults and instead, appreciate the subtle nuances of emotional attachment that are being woven between them. Unless, of course, it comes to blows, in which case yeah, it was just a pissing contest.



Buzzcook said...

One of the differences between now and when I was a young man in the 1970's, is that now the comely lasses in the gentlemen's clubs really are comely.
I attribute the change to title nine.

"gunner" said...

funny thing is that for the most part you're right. guys we really don't like we usually stomp into a mudhole without discussion, leaving the remains for the vultures.

Jason Janicki said...

Lol, Buzzcook.

Exactly, gunner! :)

Lurklen said...

So true, so true. And if a guy you don't know starts up theres like a three second window where you decide if he's just shooting the shit and respond in kind or you have to pound his face in.

We truly are wonderful creatures lol.

Jason Janicki said...

So true. It's amazing that 'friendly' and 'kill' are so closely linked :)