Hmmm.  you know, now that I think of it, tbrn *is* mostly made up of
guys.  And the girls hardly ever seem to throw stuff.

This classic Dave Barry column was originally published May 12, 1996.

Today we present another part of our ongoing series, ''Stuff That Guys Do.''

Our first example of guys doing stuff comes from the University of
Washington Daily, which recently published a report written by Jeremy
Simer and sent
in by alert reader Donna Bellinger, headlined, ''Fraternity Game Turns
Into Arrest.'' What happened, according to this report, was that some
guys were
up on the roof of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity house, and, as guys
will do when they spend any time together in an elevated location, they
began sharing
their innermost feelings.

I am, of course, kidding. These guys, being guys, began dropping things
off the roof, starting with smaller items, and eventually escalating --
this is
when the police were summoned -- to a chair and a rowing machine.

A fraternity member is quoted as follows: ''We're frat guys. What can
you say?''

Far be it from me to indulge in sex stereotyping here, but I am willing
to bet that the reaction of you readers to this story is divided along
gender lines,
as follows:

FEMALE REACTION: ''Why would anybody do anything so stupid?''

MALE REACTION: ''A rowing machine! Cool!''

The simple truth is that guys have this overpowering urge to watch stuff
fall and crash. If you ever see an inappropriate object, such as a
piano, hurtling
toward the Earth from a great height, you can be virtually certain that
guys are responsible.

Ask yourself this question: If you were standing in the middle of a
bridge spanning a magnificent wilderness gorge, at the bottom of which
was a spectacular
whitewater river, what would you do?

FEMALE RESPONSE: Admire the view.


Yes, the truth is that there are few things that a guy enjoys more than
proudly watching a gob of spit -- his spit; spit that he produced --
falling a tremendous
distance. This is a male impulse that females frankly cannot relate to,
just as males cannot relate to the female impulse to go into
greeting-card stores
and spend hours shopping for greeting cards even when there is no
particular occasion or person you need to send a greeting card to, which
is what women
frequently do when guys are out spitting.

I am not suggesting here that all guys ever do is drop stuff. Sometimes
they also throw stuff, and sometimes this can lead to trouble. I have in
my possession
an official U.S. government memorandum, sent to me by an alert but
anonymous reader, that was written by Paul E. Thompson, acting director,
Western Region,
Inspection Operations, Food and Safety Inspection Service, U.S.
Department of Agriculture.

Here is the first paragraph of this memorandum, which I absolutely swear
I am not making up:

'This is to remind all personnel of the danger and inadvisability of
engaging in activities commonly referred to as 'Horseplay.' A few
examples of horseplay
include, but are not limited to: throwing spleens, squirting water and
flipping lymph nodes.''

In professional journalism, we have an old saying that we frequently
say, which goes like this: ''You do not print a story about federal
employees engaging
in horseplay involving spleens or lymph nodes without making a sincere
effort to get the other side.'' So I contacted the USDA's Western Region
which is located -- and let this be a lesson to those who claim that the
federal government is poorly managed -- in the West.

I spoke with Dr. Bruce Kaplan, a public affairs specialist, who
explained that, ''on rare occasions,'' poultry and meat inspectors, as
well as plant employees,
will become bored and flip meat and poultry organs at each other.

(He did not specifically state that these were guys doing this, but some
things go without saying.)

''In the poultry plants, they will flip spleens,'' explained Dr. Kaplan.
''In the red-meat plants, they will flip lymph nodes.''

Dr. Kaplan stressed that ''there is absolutely no danger in terms of
food safety.'' The problem, he said, is the safety of plant workers:
''When they walk
on the floor where these organs fall, they could slip.''

In hopes of making the public more aware of the potential danger, I
asked Dr. Kaplan to describe a poultry spleen.

''These are little small spleens,'' he explained. ''They're tiny little
slippery spleens.''

I think we can draw several conclusions from this story:

1. First and foremost, ''Slippery Spleens'' would be an excellent name
for a rock band.

2. Although it has become fashionable to knock ''big government,'' we
must not forget that, without the quick and decisive action by the USDA
in the form
of acting director Thompson's memorandum, the ordinary public, in the
form of food-plant workers, would have no protection from the threat of
on organs flipped by USDA inspectors.

3. If the USDA ever has a shortage of inspectors, it should definitely
consider recruiting members of Theta Delta Chi.

Samuel Proulx
cell phone: 1-416-520-4383
laptop phone: 1-425-606-3231
A man's library is a sort of harem. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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