A Strong Gag Reflex · 29 May 2021

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook, “Good thing I have a strong ‘gag’ reflex on this one.”

I recently wrote about running gags that I use in my blog. I should have known that my friend and faithful reader, Marc, would post something appropriate on my Facebook page. He actually told me about it before I read it. Apparently, he wanted me to laugh twice at the same joke. And I did. In fact, I smile when I think of some of the comments he has made over the years.

(I could probably write a whole blog post about comments Marc has made about my writing over the years, but I never did like those throw away reminiscing episodes on TV shows. You know the ones. The writers could not come up with anything witty and original, so they settled for having a flashback episode where people remember stuff. Then, as the characters remember, the show cuts to clips from older episodes. Talk about needing a strong gag reflex. So since I never really liked those episodes much, I figured going back and rehashing funny things that Marc has said to me through the years would be like that. Not very original even though going down memory lane is always fun and, of course, nostalgic. So I will not do that. At least not in this post.)

Even though I do not want to do a reminiscing piece on old comments, I will comment on one comment Marc has consistently made throughout my whole blogging experience. He has always told me to “keep striving to become mediocre.” I love it. I love it because it is one of those strange things that boys and men do to each other. They just cannot help it. They, rather we, cannot help but slugging our friends on the arms to show them that we care. That we love them. It is what we did as kids and it is what we continue to do as men. It is just that we tend to slug each other with words instead of fists as we grow older. (Notice I did not say grow up.) Good thing too because it seemed that as kids we were always going around with one sore shoulder muscle all the time. And you could always tell who was getting the most affection from his friends because his arm, usually his dominant arm (the one he used for slugging), was dragging. That shoulder was three inches lower than the other because it was falling out of its socket from being hit so often. I was always glad my friends did not love me that much.

At any rate.

That boy love just translates to men slugging each other with their words to show each other affection because boys never grow up. Not really anyway. Sure, we take on grown up responsibilities. We raise families. We help our own boys become men. And yes, we even help them understand that it is okay to show affection. It is okay to wrestle with your buddies to see who is toughest. And it is okay to slug each other on the shoulder to show you care. And of course, it is okay to show it with our actions and our words. Usually those jibes we take at each other.

Actually, I think it is all instinctual. Boys and men just know that they need to behave like that from birth. That is why boys come out of the womb with their hands rolled up into fists. They just want to smack somebody to show they care.

Okay. I made that last bit up. But it does make sense when you think about it. Yes, there are those of us who hug each other and even cry with each other. But even those enlightened men still punch each other on the shoulder and give each other grief about whatever it is that they are proud of in their friends. Yes, they can give each other compliments, but if you really listen to men talk, most of them do not want to hear the direct compliments from each other. They want to hear how they can improve. They want to hear how they can become better. They want to know how they can get closer to mediocre. They want to know the truth. Indeed, they want iron to sharpen iron. And so they seemingly rip each other to shreds in order to lift each other up. I know. It is a strange way to have relationships. But it works. Mostly.

By the way, I know that not every man slugs his friends to show he cares. There are surely men who know how to communicate their thoughts and feelings in sincere ways. And to be honest, I think most men can do so from time to time. Usually one on one. Even though they will usually deny that it happened when others ask. Still, they can and do communicate sincerely.

I doubt that Marc will use the same comment again for a different post, but it is appropriate for this post too. After all, men talking about men’s feelings is something that we all need to have a strong gag reflex for.

(And yes, I end sentences with prepositions. Sometimes, just for Marc. But that is a completely different story.)

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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