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 on Feb. 27 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.
MALE RESPONSE: Spit.
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 last year by Paul E. Thompson, acting director, Western Region, Inspection Operations, Food and Safety Inspection Service, United States 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 office, 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 slipping 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.