Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Strange male rituals precede human nuptials

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I was sitting at the home computer the other day, looking at Internet photos of LOL cats, when suddenly there was a loud pounding at the front door.

It was The Boy, which is what we have always called our 26-year-old son, and some of his buddies. They'd come to pick up his golf clubs, which he keeps at our house because his apartment is the size of a two-slice toaster. He needed his clubs because they were going to spend the entire day engaging in manly activities in honour of a close friend who is about to get married.

I listened with awe and a certain amount of envy as these chirpy young men with their flexible limbs, full heads of hair and undiminished short-term memories explained their jam-packed agenda, which included:

1) Going to a local greasy spoon for chili-cheeseburgers because if you are going to pay tribute to a man about to embark on the uncharted sea of matrimony, it is essential to kick things off with a nutritious breakfast;

2) Hitting a municipal golf course to play 18 holes of a beautiful game made popular in recent years by such stellar husbands as Tiger Woods and John Daly;

3) Rolling to the local bowling alley for a few frames of a leisure activity in which a dedicated player, if he puts his mind to it, can consume even more beer than during a typical round of golf;

4) Making their way to a local watering hole for some karaoke, a questionable form of entertainment wherein normally sane humans, armed with microphones and a public address system and pre-recorded music, sing sloppy, beer-fuelled versions of classic tunes, such as Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond, until audience members begin bleeding from the ears;

5) Capping the day with a round of poker, a game traditionally played on cable TV shows by fat men wearing gaudy Hawaiian shirts so bright they can be seen from the International Space Station.

If you read that list closely, you will notice the one thing The Boy and his pals did not plan to do was sit around and share their inner-most feelings about the pending nuptials.

It's not that guys do not possess inner-most feelings. Guys have feelings up the wazoo, but we are not trained how to express them in a public manner. The deep-seated feelings we are willing to express typically leak out when we gather to watch sports, such as the other night, when a buddy and I watched the NHL playoffs and openly shared our emotions.

"I feel that Sidney Crosby is a wimp, and the Pittsburgh Penguins are a bunch of chokers," my friend shared.

"I think you're an idiot," I shared right back. "It's just how I feel."

Anyway, when I called my son the next morning to see how their event -- A man shower? A bro bath? -- had gone, he made some unintelligible grunting sounds, which I assume meant things went pretty well.

The truth is guys do not have a clue what to do with a friend who is about to leave the single life in his rear-view mirror.

It is a different story with women, who are able to plan every second of a high-anxiety, stress-filled modern wedding, while guys feel they deserve a community-service medal if they remember to show up at the correct time with matching socks.

Tradition also demands women hold a fun-filled event called a "bridal shower," wherein they engage in fun-filled activities designed to reduce the lucky bride-to-be to a weeping puddle of lavender-scented goo.

I am, of course, joking. I have no personal knowledge of what goes on at bridal showers. So I bravely visited a few wedding-planning websites, of which there are currently 300 million, to find out. It was a terrifying experience.

For instance, at TLC.com, they listed "10 Fun Bridal Shower Games," including No. 10, "Toilet Paper Dress and Veil," wherein guests are divided into teams that decorate one member in a bridal gown and veil made entirely (here's the fun part) from toilet paper. Smoking is frowned on during this game.

My favourite game was No. 5, "Name that Herb," in which random aromatic herbs are placed in paper cups, then passed around for guests to sniff and then try to identify. "Be sure to keep an extra herb or two handy in case of a tiebreaker," the website happily advises.

I'll bet bridal showers also include a part where the women share their inner-most feelings, but if they've been passing herbs around all night, they'd better have a large supply of chili-cheeseburgers on hand, too.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 12, 2013 A2

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