Monday, January 24, 2011

The Guys

This could be construed as a confession, but I don't think I should be ashamed: I think the Three Stooges are funny.

It took me a while to come around to them, and I think that is mostly because my mother thinks they are completely stupid, so I grew up not really knowing much about them and, for the most part, thinking that was the best course of action.

Mom is to be forgiven: she exposed me to things like musicals and Star Wars, which are also important.

About six or eight months ago, though, when DH and I discovered Svengoolie's brand of fantastically bad puns to go with equally bad movies on Saturday evenings, we found that there was a Three Stooges show that was on just before Sven. I would usually be puttering around, but DH loves slapstick, so he started watching the tail end of the show. Then he figured out that the host of the Stooges show was the same guy as Svengoolie, which piqued my interest because, well, I kind of love Svengoolie, the man.

Confidential to Rich Koz: You're quite possibly my favorite person on TV. I want to buy you a beer. But please lose some weight, man... you're worrying us.

Anyway, back to the Stooges. Mom was almost right, thinking they're stupid. But we like to call them "stoopid": they're so dumb they are - sometimes - ingenious. The joke about the tapeworm cracks me up every time. The gag where two guys get caught in the same suit jacket so one guy accidentally starts punching his partner is perfect Vaudeville choreography. Throw in the occasional interesting trivia from Mr. Koz, and stoopid is skipping along, hand in hand with educational.

Rich Koz emphasizes that he reads all the letters he receives, so he features a few letters in the middle of each show. A while ago, some poor guy wrote in saying he loves the show, but his wife can't stand the Stooges, so he gets to watch them only if she's not around. Some comment was made about how women just don't like the Three Stooges. Then he moved on with the show.

This past weekend, Rich read a letter from a middle-aged woman who took offense at this sweeping generalization regarding the fairer sex. She'd been a Stooge fan since she was a kid, she wrote, and she had plenty of female friends who felt the same way. Women who hate the Stooges need to "get in touch with their inner guy."

This letter writer, I thought, just summed up something foundational about who I am.

Time for some back story. Please envision some vision-waving rays here:

Back in my home town, my closest friends growing up were all guys. There were three in particular with whom I spent most of my time, and whom I creatively referred to as The Guys. We were the drama club nerds for the most part, though our school was so small that the cliques weren't that well defined, so "Schmei and The Guys" was not an exclusive club or anything, it was just the way things often shook out.

My parents bought a beat-up Oldsmobile for my use in high school, and I was shocked to learn that it was a manual transmission. I hated my parents for approximately fifteen minutes, until one of The Guys expressed some level of admiration that a chick would drive a stickshift. I honestly hadn't paid attention to the fact that The Guys? Drove stick shifts. This is very manly, in part because it aids in driving recklessly fast on country roads. We will pass over without mention the other reason a stick shift can be construed as manly.

The Guys exposed me to good music and good books, to junky snacks and ginger beer. I was never entirely certain if I was "one of The Guys" or just the annoying girl they allowed to tag along. I do know that there were times they would have rather I had stayed home, because... well, I was still a teenage girl. They're terrible creatures sometimes.

There is also the awkward truth that in junior high and high school, there were attempts to date each of The Guys along the way. The first, in eighth grade, resulted in one of the best breakups of my life. We sort of held hands and stuff for a week, and then he tried to kiss me, and then that was weird and he admitted, "that was like kissing my sister." And I agreed. So it ended.

That was sort of how they all were: non-starters, really. The other two didn't even progress to the point that there was a formal break-up: They were more like a series of gaffes. But when you're fifteen or seventeen, who knows? Everything about our small town told us that we'd marry someone in our high school class, and I think we felt obligated to consider that. It's not like there were many options, anyway. And the concept of marriage was roughly as appealing as kissing your sister, i.e., not at all.

We're all married now. None of us the core group of Schmei and The Guys married anyone from high school, thankfully.

When I left town for college I fell out of contact with the guys, for the most part, and I found myself at a school with an overwhelmingly female population. Most of my college friends were women. Some of them created the kind of drama that only women can create for each other.

Oh, how I missed The Guys.

I would still see Bro (yes, he was one of The Guys) over breaks from school, and when I was studying abroad we wrote letters back and forth, but we were each living our own lives and doing some growing up. We'd go months without communicating.

I don't know if it was missing that testonerone-y sense of things that made me get in to the college newspaper, where I met my best college friends, but it could be.

I do think it was quite possibly the influence of The Guys that made my friendship with DH so natural when we first met at the start of my junior year. I was really happy to meet such a great dude. He was the kind of guy one could wander around with or tell fart jokes or talk philosophy. We became such good friends so fast that I wasn't really willing to consider something romantic. Besides, those are always non-starters, right?

Not always, as it turns out. Which is nice.

So here I find myself, more than ten years after I last hung out with The Guys: A married woman, living in a big city, writing a blog.

Through a series of recent conversations, I learned that three men I know and like, and whose writing I enjoy, read my blog. All three of them have mentioned it to me, with the occasional needling that I should write a little more. It's needling I've appreciated greatly.

I think this might be The Guys 2.0, which is fantastic. I prefer to remain in touch with my inner guy.

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