I don’t imagine I will surprise anyone when I say that men laugh at inappropriate things and at inappropriate times. Often it’s written off to immaturity, but I don’t believe that is a reasonable explanation because there are some things that even the most mature men will laugh at – especially when there aren’t any women around to observe us. Let’s look at some of them.
Flatulence and flatus. By and large, we laugh at farts. The worse they smell, the more we laugh. If women are around, we may try to contain ourselves with mixed success. The more unexpected the eruption is and the more pungent its aroma, the more likely we are to laugh. If it is a friend of ours who embarrasses himself in front of a woman who means a lot to him, even if we manage to control our external reaction we are most certainly incontinent with laughter on the inside. On the other hand, a really nasty episode released only among men is a badge of honor. You don’t have to understand it.
Seeing someone else trip and nearly or actually fall. We won’t laugh if there is blood involved or evidence of serious injury. Give us a little credit! However, absent obvious injury we will doubtless at least giggle, more likely laugh out loud. If we know the poor clumsy bastard, or better yet if he’s a friend of ours, we may well be uncontrollably shaking with laughter. Even a stubbed toe is worth a smile, and the more semantically creative our friend’s reaction to his gracelessness the better we like it.
Witnessing another man taking a hit to the testicles. I clearly remember an event from nearly twenty-five years ago. We were taking batting practice on a diamond at a Middle School before a softball game. Most of us were in the outfield shagging the balls…er, softballs, that were hit during batting practice. The guy who was our catcher, not the most nimble guy, ran to his right after a fast-moving hit. Against all odds, the ball hit something irregular on the ground and shot up, glancing off the inside of his right thigh and – you guessed it – knocking both his pool balls into his side pocket. He dropped to the ground like he had been shot. Uncontrollable laughter erupted from somewhere deep inside me, but I was able to stifle the sound and turned away so he couldn’t see my face. I looked over my shoulder and saw him on all fours, drooling copiously onto the ground. I thought I was going to lose control of my bladder when I saw this, and turned to see ten other guys standing in the outfield, their backs turned toward our fallen comrade and their shoulders shaking uncontrollably. At that moment, I understood.
We aren’t immature, we are just so damn relieved it isn’t us! I don’t care if it’s an accidental fecal explosion, a trip and fall, or a shot to the gonads – every last one of us have been there and hated every moment of it. Then we had someone we cared about, either a close friend or a romantic partner, make fun of us for doing it – as if we regularly run about with our testicles hanging out looking for something to knock them into our abdomen for shits and giggles.
Men take rejection all their life, from the first school dance they attend, to the first girl they try to speak with post hormonal flux, to the first girl they ask out, to every last damn dance we ever attend and every club we walk into, until we are beaten down by our own (mistaken) belief that we are completely inept. When a friend of ours really does something foolish or embarrassing it’s not that we don’t have compassion. In fact we do. I promise you, we don’t sit around reminding each other of that time we were drooling on all fours. In the moment, though, we are just so damn relieved that it isn’t us this time, we can’t help but laugh.
And you thought we were simple.