men went to the moon, but guys invented mooning

Guys have played an important role in history, but this role has not been given the attention it deserves, because nobody wrote it down. Guys are not conscientious about writing. Take thank-you notes. When a couple gets married, the bride very quickly - sometimes right after her new husband passes out in their honeymoon-suite hot tub-starts composing personalized notes thanking their wedding guests for all the lovely gifts (". . . I didn't know they even made a traveling case for the Salad Shooter").

The bride will keep this up until she has written every single guest; if it was a really big wedding, she may still be thanking people after her divorce ("Aunt Esther, the meat fork is beautiful, and I expect to get many happy years of use from it once the surgeons extract it from Roger"). Very few guys write thank-you notes, or any other kind of note. Guys would probably commit a lot more kidnappings if they weren't required to write ransom notes.

My point is that, because guys don't write things down, they are not well represented in the history books. You'll find countless references to men, however, because men like to record every detail of their lives, for posterity. Alexander the Great, for example, kept a diary, so that today we can read, in his own handwriting, exactly what he was doing on any given day, as is shown by these actual excerpts:

327 B.C., Nov. 4 - Cloudy today. Conquered Asia Minor.

324 B.C., Jan. 6 - Note: Find out what "B.C." stands for.

323 B.C., May 17 - Died at an early age.

But what about the average guy in Alexander the Great's army? What about his contributions to history? Yes, it is important that Alexander extended the influence of such legendary Greek philosophers as Aristotle throughout most of the civilized world, thus significantly affecting the development of Western thought and culture to this very day; but is it not also important that, at the same time, some of his lowly foot soldiers were perfecting the Rubber Spear Trick, or determining that the letters in "Aristotle" can be rearranged to spell "A Tit Loser"?

That is the kind of historical guy accomplishment I'm going to explore in this chapter, starting with a discussion of:

prehistoric guys

Prehistory was a very difficult time for humans. Hostile, vicious, person-eating predators roamed the Earth. Disease was rampant. Mortality rates were horrific. The automatic bank teller was still only a dream. Back then the clan was the basic unit of society, with the roles of males and females clearly defined. The females cared for the young and gathered roots, which they would soak in water, then peel, then painstakingly pound for hours between two heavy rocks, and finally throw away.

"We may be primitive, but we're not stupid enough to eat roots," was their feeling.

Thus the basic food-gathering responsibility fell on the shoulders of the males, who would go off for days at a time to hunt the mighty dinosaur. This was hard work. They had to dig an enormous deep hole, then disguise it by covering it with frail branches, then hide in the bushes, waiting for a mighty dinosaur to come along and fall into the trap. The hunters often waited for long periods, because, unbeknownst to them, dinosaurs had become extinct several million years earlier.

So the males sat around a lot. Some of them eventually became fidgety and went on to develop agriculture, invent primitive tools, etc. But some males-these were the original guys-really liked sitting around. Eventually they stopped bothering to dig the hole. They'd just go out into the woods and sit.

"It's not easy, trying to catch dinosaurs," they would tell people, especially their wives. "But if we don't do it, who will?"

Sometimes they would also use a false beard or the stone Weed Whacker. They never helped with the roots. Sitting around for no reason under the guise of being engaged in productive work was the first real guy contribution to human civilization, forming the underlying basis for many modern institutions and activities such as fishing, sales conferences, highway repair, the federal government, and "Customer Service."

This is not to say that prehistoric guys did nothing but sit around.

They also invented an activity that has become one of the most dominant forms of guy behavior, now accounting for an estimated 178 trillion guy-hours per year in the United States alone. The activity I am referring to, of course, is guys scratching their personal regions. And when I say "scratching," I am not talking about a couple of quick, discreet swipes with the fingernails to relieve a momentary itch. I'm talking about an activity that guys spend way more time and energy on than they do on, for example, home maintenance.

Walk around any populated area and you'll see dozens, maybe hundreds, of guys engaged in scratching themselves. Some will try to be subtle, but usually once they get going they completely lose track of where they are.

Before long they're rooting around in their pants using both hands, garden implements, etc., totally oblivious to the world around them. This can lead to trouble.

First mate on the Titanic: "Sir, don't you think we should do something about it? Maybe change direction? Sir? Sir?"

Captain: (. . . scratchscratchscratchscratchscratchscratch . . .)

One time in the 1970s I was watching a Philadelphia Phillies game on television, and at a key moment the Phillies' manager, Danny Ozark (who looked exactly like a guy named "Danny Ozark") walked to the pitcher's mound for a conference. Danny had his back to the camera, and his right hand, seemingly acting on its own, sort of moseyed around to his rear-end region and started exploring, really probing, looking as though maybe Danny had lost some vital documents in there. The hand became so energetic that finally even the TV announcers had to start laughing. This was a guy in the middle of a baseball stadium and on TV, with the game at a critical juncture, and still his number-one priority was scratching himself. He was a guy's guy, that Danny Ozark.

2006 Dave Barry

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