When men gather in social groups, you can often sense the collective IQ falling. Add intoxicating beverages to the mix, and the precipitous drop in atmospheric intelligence could be tracked by the National Hurricane Center.
Meteorologist 1: “My God! We’ve got a major cyclonic system developing in the Northeast!”
Meteorologist 2: “Relax. That’s just ManTalkNow and his friends drinking at a bar in New York.”
The point is, we frequently talk about very stupid things. This is extremely enjoyable. The objective is not to solve the world’s problems. It’s not to fix our relationships, or engage in professional networking. It’s simply about dumb jokes, cruel attacks on each other (that won’t leave permanent marks), and as much laughter as we can squeeze into a few hours.
I once poured myself out of a taxi, chuckled all the way up in the elevator to my condo, stumbled through the door, and sat down (smiling idiotically) on the sofa beside a late-night TV addict girlfriend.
“Did you have a good time with the guys?”
“Awesome,” I said, happily.
“What did you talk about?” she asked.
“No idea. Can’t remember. But it was great.”
Not long ago, the Bonehead Club met at my place. Guitar rock on my stereo, wine, beer, pizza with every meat available on the menu, and the balcony door open to encourage the Cuban cigar smoke (and other kinds of legally unauthorized smoke) to escape into the night.
We agreed that we wouldn’t want President Obama’s job right now. We decided that if the Republicans win next year, Romney would be better than Perry, because at least Mitt is a lying hypocrite who only pretends to be crazy. We talked about that comedian Whitney Cummings. I thought she was pretty funny. Someone else thought she wasn’t. Another guy said she has really long legs, you know? We all looked into the distance and thought about that for a couple seconds, then we all nodded sagely in consensus.
Then my friend Robert put the cat among the pigeons. Robert is a brilliant attorney, a compact, charming fellow, and a consistent and effective provocateur.
Into a brief lull in the conversation, he inserted: “You know… gay men check you out in the locker room.”
The lull stretched, as eight dull brains processed what he’d said. Then eight loud mouths responded.
“They’d better not!”
“No, they don’t!”
Robert, grinning, raised his hand for silence. Magically, he received it. The little man possesses a certain authority that makes such things possible, even when he’s drunk.
“I’m not making any value judgments, gentlemen. I’m simply stating a fact,” he said. “You shoot some hoops, or you work out at the gym, then you hit the showers. There are gay men there, and they’re looking you over. Naked.”
Some squirming ensued. A couple of guys said they didn’t think that really happened. A shower room or locker room is a kind of neutral place. Nobody looks at the private bits. A couple of other guys said that the whole idea made them very uncomfortable.
My giant friend Rodney simply shook his massive head and gazed ruefully at Robert. “You are just a damn shit-disturber, you know that?”
As Robert had intended, a great debate ensued about whether this really happened, and if so how we straight men should feel about it. The discussion was foolish, pointless and loud. We traded insults about each other’s physiques and packages, and accused each other of being secretly gay and/or homophobic. This was turning into an excellent evening!
“We need expert input here, guys,” I said. “So shut up and let me call Pat.” Pat is a tech company executive, has a very dangerous jump shot, and is a proud Gay American. He would’ve been with us, but he and his partner Hugh were in Los Angeles. I dialed his iPhone, and got him on four rings. He was in his hotel room.
“Pat, we’re at my place,” I said, and named those present. “We need your particular expertise to settle an argument.”
“So it’s about mobile platforms or basketball, I guess,” he said, dryly.
“No, the other thing,” I replied.
“Go ahead,” he sighed. “Let me put you on speaker. Hugh’s here.”
I put the question to him: “Do gay guys check out straight guys in the locker room or the showers?”
Hugh spoke up immediately. “That’s a stupid question. Are you guys drunk already?”
“Talk about stupid questions,” said Pat to Hugh. Then to us: “No. The answer is no. I keep my eyes to myself in the shower room.”
“Well, you’re a fucking liar,” said Hugh. “You do too look. I know you do. He does, guys.”
“Why would you say that?” asked Pat. “Do you look at other men in the locker room?”
“Not as much as you do,” Hugh replied.
“Guys, you can have a big fight and make-up sex later,” I said. “So the answer is yes, right?”
“Well, you could say ‘sometimes’, maybe,” allowed Pat. “I mean, look, let’s say there was somebody outrageously good-looking in there. Then, maybe you might sneak a quick, discreet peek. But it doesn’t mean anything.” I wasn’t sure if Pat’s last remark was aimed at the drunken crowd in my living room, or at the man sitting next to him in LA.
“So a guy like me,” I continued. “I’d be getting ogled in the shower by gay guys all the time.”
There was a pause. “Sure… sure. Is that the answer you wanted?”
“Well, it only makes sense. Who could blame them? I’m pretty gorgeous,” I said, matter-of-factly. “Okay, thanks, Pat. Enjoy LA. Bye, Hugh.” I clicked off.
“Shit, I never thought about this before,” said one of my buddies. “That’s really weird.”
“Well, what would you do if you showered with women?” asked Robert.
“I couldn’t shower with women,” said Rodney. “I couldn’t not look. I’d have to look! And then I’d get a hard-on and scare everyone. And then Celia would kill me in my sleep.” He looked slightly alarmed.
Later, as I shooed everyone out of my place to the waiting cabs, I elbowed Robert in the shoulder. “Gay panic in the shower room. That was a classic, bud.”
“I’d been saving it up all week,” he said with a grin. “And for the record, if I were gay, I’d definitely check you out in the showers. It’s that square jaw of yours.”
“You’re a good friend, Rob,” I said, kicking his ass out the door. “And we definitely need to find you a girlfriend really soon.”
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