CHAPTER I

Guys have played an important role in history, but this role has not been given the attention it deserves, because nobody wrote it down. Guys are not conscientious about writing. Take thank-you notes. When a couple gets married, the bride very quickly - sometimes right after her new husband passes out in their honeymoon-suite hot tub - starts composing personalized notes thanking their wedding guests for all the lovely gifts ( ". . . I didn't know they even made a traveling case for the Salad Shooter").

Prehistoric guys

Prehistory was a very difficult time for humans. Hostile, vicious, person-eating predators roamed the Earth. Disease was rampant. Mortality rates were horrific. The automatic bank teller was still only a dream.

Back then the clan was the basic unit of society, with the roles of males and females clearly defined. The females cared for the young and gathered roots, which they would soak in water, then peel, then painstakingly pound for hours between two heavy rocks, and finally throw away. "We may be primitive, but we're not stupid enough to eat roots," was their feeling.

Thus the basic food-gathering responsibility fell on the shoulders of the males, who would go off for days at a time to hunt the mighty dinosaur. This was hard work. They had to dig an enormous deep hole, then disguise it by covering it with frail branches, then hide in the bushes waiting for a mighty dinosaur to come along and fall into the trap. The hunters often waiting for long periods, because, unbeknownst to them, dinosaurs had become extinct several million years earlier.

So the males sat around a lot. Some of them eventually became fidgety and went on to develop agriculture, invent primitive tools, etc. But some males - these were the original guys - really liked sitting around. Eventually they stopped bothering to dig the hole. They'd just go out into the woods and sit.

"It's not easy, trying to catch dinosaurs," they would tell people, especially their wives. "But if we don't do it, who will?"

They never helped with the roots.

Sitting around for no reason under the guise of being engaged in productive work was the first real guy contribution to human civilization, forming the underlying basis for many modern institutions and activities such as fishing, sales conferences, highway repair, the federal government and "Customer Service."

Ancient Egyptian guys

The most significant achievement of ancient Egyptian guys occurred at the funeral of the great Pharaoh Amentooten III, when some guys invented the famous "Substitute Mummy Filled With Live Weasels" prank. This led to the collapse of the Egyptian empire, but everybody involved agreed it was worth it.

Guys in the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution saw the world's economic landscape radically transformed by technological breakthroughs in mechanization, steam power and mass production, thereby permitting the emergence of capitalistic free markets, the creation of vast wealth, and the rise of the middle class as the dominant social element in an urban-industrial society. During this era guys invented the office betting pool.

Guys in the modern era

As humanity entered the modern era, guys continued to make contributions. Here is just a partial list of the modern benefits that society would probably not enjoy today if it weren't for guys:

1. Mooning

2. Pez

It may seem as though there is nothing more that guys could possibly accomplish, but they continue to make amazing strides forward right up to the present day. I have here a newspaper article from the La Crosse, Wis., Tribune, sent in by an alert reader named Sherryl Gingrich concerning these guys - Trygve Thompson, Richard Stakson and Dan Ellefson - from the town of Westby, Wis. These guys, all in their 40s, had a few beers one winter's night and decided it would be a good idea to hurl themselves off a 30-meter ski jump.

In a canoe.

I am not making this up. According to the article, written by Jeff Brown, the guys had talked about canoe-jumping for several years, and this particular night they just decided to do it. So they hauled a 16-foot canoe up to the top, got in - the article says that Ellefson, sitting in the back, had an oar - and pushed off. The canoe flew down the jump, rocketed off into space, and - you guessed it - smashed head-on into Christopher Columbus.

No, seriously, the canoe landed at the bottom traveling at approximately 14,000 miles per hour and flipped over. Miraculously, the three occupants suffered only cuts and bruises.

The article describes them as "three grown men with jobs and families." This may be. But when they got into that canoe - and I mean this as the highest compliment - they were guys.

CHAPTER II

Contrary to what many women believe, it's fairly easy to develop a long-term, stable, intimate and mutually fulfilling relationship with a guy. Of course, this guy has to be a Labrador retriever. With human guys, it's extremely difficult. This is because guys don't really grasp what women mean by the term relationship.

Let's say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: "Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?"

And then there is silence in the car. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Geez, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want or isn't sure of.

And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Elaine is thinking; But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward . . . I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Roger is thinking . . . so that means it was . . . let's see . . . February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer's, which means . . . lemme check the odometer . . . Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

And Elaine is thinking: He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed - even before I sensed it - that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid of being rejected.

And Roger is thinking: And I'm gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It's 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieving cretins 600 dollars.

And Elaine is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry, too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure.

And Roger is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90-day warranty. That's exactly what they're gonna say, the scumballs.

And Elaine is thinking: Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.

And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I'll give them a warranty. I'll take their warranty and stick it . . .

"Roger," Elaine says aloud.

"What?" says Roger, startled.

"Please don't torture yourself like this," she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. "Maybe I should never have . . . Oh, I feel so . . ." (She breaks down, sobbing.)

"What?" says Roger.

"I'm such a fool," Elaine sobs. "I mean, I know there's no knight. I really know that. It's silly. There's no knight, and there's no horse."

"There's no horse?" says Roger.

"You think I'm a fool, don't you?" Elaine says.

"No!" says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.

"It's just that . . . It's that I . . . I need some time," Elaine say.

(There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.)

"Yes," he says.

(Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.)

"Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?" she says.

"What way?" says Roger.

"That way about time," says Elaine.

"Oh," says Roger. "Yes."

(Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.)

"Thank you, Roger," she says.

"Thank you," says Roger.

Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's better if he doesn't think about it. (This is also Roger's policy regarding world hunger.)

The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.

Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine's, will pause just before serving, frown, and say: "Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?"

We're not talking about different wavelengths here. We're talking about different planets, in completely different solar systems. Elaine cannot communicate meaningfully with Roger about their relationship any more than she can meaningfully play chess with a duck. Because the sum total of Roger's thinking on this particular topic is as follows:

Huh?

But the point I'm trying to make is that, if you're a woman, and you want to have a successful relationship with a guy, the No. 1 Tip to remember is:

1. Never assume that the guy understands that you and he have a relationship.

The guy will not realize this on his own. You have to plant the idea in his brain by constantly making subtle references to it in your everyday conversation, such as:

- "Roger, would you mind passing me a Sweet 'n' Low, inasmuch as we have a relationship?"

- "Wake up, Roger! There's a prowler in the den and we have a relationship! You and I do, I mean."

- "Good news, Roger! The gynecologist says we're going to have our fourth child, which will serve as yet another indication that we have a relationship!"

- "Roger, inasmuch as this plane is crashing and we probably have only about a minute to live, I want you to know that we've had a wonderful 53 years of marriage together, which clearly constitutes a relationship."

Never let up, women. Pound away relentlessly at this concept, and eventually it will start to penetrate the guy's brain. Some day he might even start thinking about it on his own. He'll be talking with some other guys aboutwomen, and, out of the blue, he'll say, "Elaine and I, we have, ummm. . . . We have, ahhh. . . . We . . . we have this thing."

And he will sincerely mean it.

The next relationship-enhancement tip is:

2. Do not expect the guy to make a hasty commitment.

By "hasty," I mean, "within your lifetime." Guys are extremely reluctant to make commitments. This is because they never feel ready.

"I'm sorry," guys are always telling women, "but I'm just not ready to make a commitment." Guys are in a permanent state of nonreadiness. If guys were turkey breasts, you could put them in a 350-degree oven on July Fourth, and they still wouldn't be done in time for Thanksgiving.

CHAPTER III

Probably the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy is the sector that conducts surveys asking women what is wrong with men. About every two days you read yet another newspaper article stating that 92.7 percent of American women find men to be pathetically inadequate in some way.

The woman and the guy have profoundly different concepts of "clean." When a woman "cleans" a bathroom, she will go in there with numerous specialized products and implements for cleansing, scouring, shining and deodorizing the glass, porcelain and tile. She will spend hours just on the "grout." She will eradicate dirt on the molecular level. She will track down and destroy each individual mildew spore. She can actually hear germs, and she can make them scream. She will leave the commode clean enough to be used in a surgical procedure.

Whereas the guy, if instructed to clean the bathroom, will go in there with a single paper towel and the first spray bottle he finds. It might be Windex, or it might be Raid. The guy will spend about three minutes in the bathroom, squirting stuff randomly out of his spray bottle and then wiping it up with his towel. He will pay no attention to whether or not he is actually getting the bathroom cleaner. There could be a dead human body lying in the bathtub, and the guy would spray and wipe it.

And I will admit that most guys here on Earth do not do any more laundry than they absolutely have to. A single-sock load would not be out of the question, for a guy. A guy might well choose to wash only the really dirty part of the sock.

Why is this? Are guys simply worthless, irresponsible scum? Yes, but that is not the cause of laundry impairment. The cause of their impairment is that guys, even when they have learned that they should do laundry, are afraid to do it, especially laundry belonging to people of other genders, because they know they will probably get into, once more, Big Trouble. The problem is that women usually own a lot of sensitive garments with laundering-instruction tags full of strict instructions like:

DO NOT MACHINE-WASH. DO NOT USE BLEACH. DO NOT USE HOT WATER. DO NOT USE WARM WATER. DO NOT USE ANY WATER. DO NOT TOUCH THIS GARMENT UNLESS YOU ARE WEARING STERILIZED SURGICAL GLOVES. PUT THIS GARMENT DOWN IMMEDIATELY, YOU CLUMSY OAF.

I'm deeply intimidated by such instructions. I developed my laundering skills in college. When I lived with Randall, we fed our laundry to large carnivorous coin-operated machines in the basement and threw away whatever clothes didn't fit when we were done.

I know that women follow a complex procedure involving sorting and presoaking and 20-something combinations of water temperatures and chemical compounds such a fabric softener, stain remover, fabric hardener, cream rinse, ointments, suppositories, enriched plutonium, etc.

This is why women are reluctant to let men near the laundry, as was shown by a nationwide survey of several women I know. A typical reaction came from my research department, Judi Smith, who gave the following statement regarding her husband Tim, a Ph.D. college professor: "I don't trust him to do my laundry at all, unless I've sorted it first and given him strict instructions before each and every load, because otherwise everything we own would be mauve or gray."

CHAPTER IV

Over the years, guys have taken a lot of vicious abuse. Guys have been blamed for just about every terrible thing that has ever happened, including war, genocide and bass-fishing tournaments.

Granted, we deserve it. But there is another side to the guy coin. It just happens that there are also countless guys who have really Made a Difference; guys who have performed feats of unsung heroism; guys who - when Old Man Trouble reared his head and somebody needed to take action; when it was the bottom of the ninth with two out and men on first and second and the home team trailing by two and somebody had to step to the plate and stroke the long ball; when it was fourth and eight with two minutes to go and there was no tomorrow for either team and it was a question of who really had the Desire and the Will to Win; when push had come to shove and it was time to separate the sheep from the goats by either cutting bait or getting off the pot; when there were two atheists in the foxhole and a penny saved was a penny earned and you had to walk eight miles to school barefoot in the snow and a loaf of bread cost a nickel, but nobody had a nickel and the most you could expect in your Christmas stocking was some used chewing gum, but you didn't complain, no, sir, because there was a Depression going on and times were tough for everybody, not like today, when kids have Nintendo games and trust funds and they walk around in the $157 sneakers with their baseball caps on backward, which makes about as much sense as (they probably do this, too, and I don't want to know about it) wearing a jockstrap backward, and don't get me started on all this body-piercing going on among young people today, some of them putting rings in their noses, for heaven's sake, which does not seem sanitary at all, which is why, although I ordinarily do not favor government intervention into the lives of individual citizens, I feel there ought to be a federal law stating that before you get your nose pierced, you should have to take an IQ test, which would consist of one question ("Do you want to get your nose pierced?"), and if you gave the wrong answer ("Yes"), you would be legally prohibited from getting your nose pierced, and before I get a letter from some liberal Communist bleeding-heart vegetarian American Civil Liberties Union lawyer claiming that such a law would violate people's constitutional rights, let me point out that the U.S. Constitution, in Article 6, Section 4, Verse 2, specifically states "By the way, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to mean that people have the right to wear jewelry in their noses," and to ignore the clear intent of these words by our Founding Fathers would be an insult to this nation and to its many law-abiding citizens, especially the countless unsung guys who, when Old Man Trouble reared his head,

WARNING WARNING WARNING

WE ARE NOW APPROACHING THE END OF THIS SENTENCE

took action.

I want to talk about some of those unsung guys. We go to Grant's Pass, Oregon, where some guys had what newspaper accounts described as a "rafting and outdoor group" called Mountain Men Anonymous. In May of 1993, this group was holding an initiation ritual for a potential member. Perhaps you would like to guess what the ritual consisted of. If you guessed that it was a sensitive and meaningful ceremony, wherein the guys hugged each other and played drums and shared their deepest masculine feelings, you have not been paying close attention to this book.

No, the ritual consisted of having a few beers, putting a beer can on the potential member's head, then shooting it off with an arrow. This is a real guy ritual. None of the wussy New Age stuff for Mountain Men Anonymous. No, they have a ritual that means something, a ritual that will really stick in the potential member's mind, which is also what happened to the arrow in this case. It entered the potential member's head through his right eye, passed through his brain and lodged in the back of his skull.

This did not kill him. You cannot kill a real guy merely by shooting an arrow through his brain. He did lose the one eye, but after the doctors got the arrow out, they were amazed to discover that he had suffered no brain damage. He even held a press conference at the hospital.

"I feel really stupid," he told the press.

I think he was way too hard on himself. What he did took great courage. Too many of us, in this day and age, are content to sit back and let "the other guy" put a can on his head and let his friends try to shoot it off with an arrow after they have been drinking. If we required people to go through this type of initiation before they were allowed to participate in, for example, the New Hampshire primary, this would be a much better nation in which to live.

Speaking of guys and doctors, our next example of Guys in Action concerns two guy doctors - a surgeon and an anesthesiologist - who responded courageously to a medical situation that, without their bold and decisive action, could easily have turned out to be routine.

This occurred at the Medical Center of Central Massachusetts. According to the Boston Globe, an elderly woman was on the operating table, sedated, in need of emergency gall-bladder surgery. The surgeon was all ready to go. In fact, he had been all ready to go for an hour and a half when the anesthesiologist arrived, so he was none too happy when the anesthesiologist began boldly and decisively making coffee.

At this point, the surgeon had several options. He could:

1. Proceed with the operation as soon as possible, then hash out his disagreement with the anesthesiologist later.

2. Proceed with the operation as soon as possible, then bring the matter to the attention of the hospital authorities.

3. Proceed with the operation as soon as possible, and try to put the incident out of his mind.

The surgeon, after weighing these options, elected to:

4. Throw a medical sponge at the anesthesiologist.

This is SGP, Standard Guy Procedure, for handling anger. We know that if we bottle our petty hostilities up inside, there is a very real danger that we will, over time, forget them. So we prefer to get our anger right out into the open, where it can do some damage.

When the anesthesiologist got hit by the sponge, he realized immediately that it would be idiotic to escalate this petty incident by responding to such a childish act, so he ignored it.

Ha ha! That was of course a joke.

The anesthesiologist, as a guy, had no choice but to retaliate. There is an old saying among guys that goes: "A guy who gets hit by a sponge and does not strike back is the kind of weenie who probably also would refuse to jeopardize his life and the lives of innocent people in a confrontation over a parking space."

And so the anesthesiologist and the surgeon, in the words of the Boston Globe, "began punching each other and fell to the floor." Right there in the operating room. With the patient (Remember the patient?) still on the operating table.

Of course it could have been worse. The two doctors could - anything is possible, with guys defending their manhoods - have gotten into a fight while the operation was actually going on. This would have been really serious, because a guy in the heat of battle will strike out with whatever is at hand, and you could get a newspaper story with a headline like:

SURGEON HELD IN ORGAN ASSAULT

BLUDGEONS ANESTHESIOLOGIST

WITH ELDERLY WOMAN'S GALLBLADDER

Fortunately, this did not happen. All that happened was that both guys were admonished and fined by the state medical board, as well as being placed on five years probation by the hospital. In other words, these guys permanently marred their professional reputations and seriously jeopardized medical careers that they had undoubtedly spent years building. But so what? The important thing is: They did not back down.

CHAPTER V

The guy body is unlike the female body. And I am not talking here about the obvious peaks and valleys. I am talking about a unique guy physical problem, a severe genetic handicap that poses a grave risk to the health of the guy body; namely, it is under the control of the guy mind.

The guy mind does not believe in medical care. Guys will generally not seek medical treatment, for themselves or for others, except in certain clear-cut situations, such as decapitation. And even then, guys are not going to be 100 percent certain. "Let's put his head back on with duct tape and see if he can play a couple more innings," is the prevailing guy attitude.

Guys are suspicious of medical care. I will illustrate this attitude with a true anecdote involving a guy I know named Ted Shields. I met Ted through an outfit that he co-founded, along with a co-guy named Pat Monahan:

The World Famous Lawn Rangers Precision Lawn Mower Drill Team of Arcola, Ill.

Arcola (slogan: "Amazing Arcola") is a small town in central Illinois (slogan: "You Bet It's Flat"). At one time Arcola was a major producer of broom corn, which is a type of corn used to make brooms. The town is still an important player in the broom-manufacturing industry and boasts one of the world's largest collections of antique brooms and brushes. It also has one of the world's largest rocking chairs, as well as an establishment called the French Embassy, which is the world's only combination gourmet French restaurant and bowling alley. I am not making this up.

Every year in September, Arcola holds a Broom Corn Festival featuring a parade, and one of the most popular units in this parade is the world-famous Lawn Rangers, who march down the street pushing customized lawn mowers, carrying brooms, and performing precision broom-and-lawn mower marching maneuvers. The members are mostly pillars of the community who believe that it is possible to have a good time and yet do absolutely nothing useful for society.

But my immediate anecdote concerns Ranger co-founder Ted Shields, who was with some other Rangers on a fishing trip off the coast of Louisiana when he came down wrong on his ankle and broke it. Naturally he told everybody it was just a sprain. Guys always say it's "just a sprain," because this way they can avoid falling into the clutches of medical care. A guy could have one major limb lying on the ground a full 10 feet from the rest of his body, and he'd claim it was "just a sprain."

So although Ted's ankle was painful and swelling rapidly and turning some nonstandard colors, Ted chose to remain on the boat and treat the injury himself.

Following standard Red Cross procedure, Ted removed a number of cans from the cooler to make room in the ice for his foot.

The Rangers fished for the remainder of the day - Ted fished with his foot in the cooler - then returned to land, where, that evening, knowing that they had an injured man and not wanting to take any chances, they all went dancing.

"My foot was hurting pretty bad," Ted recalls, "but I was one of the few Rangers who did not fall down that night."

The next day they returned to Arcola, where Ted's wife, Joyce, a keen observer, observed that he could barely walk, and one of his legs had become much larger than the other; in fact, larger than some entire people.

"It was a Pillsbury Doughboy leg," is how Joyce describes it.

"It's just a sprain," is what Ted told her.

Nevertheless Joyce insisted on taking him to the hospital, where she had to fill out all the medical forms, because Ted was busy explaining to the hospital personnel that he didn't really need treatment.

"His ankle was grotesque," Joyce recalls. "People were staring at it, and I was trying to get these papers filled out, and Ted was leaning over my shoulder and saying, `It's just a sprain.' "

A number of weeks later, Ted got out of his cast, in time to march in the Broom Corn Parade. So all's well that ends well. But my point is that, if there is a guy in your life, and you want him to get decent medical care, you cannot rely on him or Hillary Clinton to be responsible for it. You have to use a technique that was perfected by wildlife officials for use with bears and rhinoceroses, namely: tranquilizer darts. This is the only way you can be sure of getting a guy to a medical-care facility in a timely manner if he has, for example, injured himself during a touch-football game, and you have pointed out that there are bones sticking from his body, plus some aortal bleeding, but he is claiming that this condition will probably go away on its own. In this case you should fire a dart or two into his body, let him stagger around for a few more plays until he collapses, then strap him to the trunk of the car and take him to the hospital.

CHAPTER VI

What happens when guys get older? Do they finally realize that there's more to life than clicking the remote control and talking about sports? Do they get in touch with their inner feelings? Do they become mature and wise?

Don't be an idiot. Real guys do not mature, except in the sense of developing longer nose hair. Emotionally, they remain guys. They still do guy stuff; the main difference is that, as they get older and earn more money and find themselves in positions of authority, they can do bigger guy stuff. They don't have to settle for merely dropping the occasional commode off of the occasional rooftop to see what happens; they can have working Air Force bombers.

True guys continue to be guys, no matter how old or allegedly responsible they get. If you doubt this, go to any sporting event. I am writing these words the morning after attending a National Basketball Association playoff game in Miami between the Miami Heat and the Atlanta Toad Excrements (not that I am biased). The crowd around me was mostly guys in their 40s and older - husbands and fathers with responsible, demanding south Florida jobs such as stockbroker, doctor, lawyer, narcotics kingperson, etc. I am certain that these guys think of themselves as mature and rational individuals. I'm also certain that they believe they are, as males, more logical than females, and less likely to be governed by their feelings. They would tell you that, quite frankly, they are a little embarrassed by the way their wives tend to cry during the sad part of a romantic movie. Because after all, it's just a movie; there's no reason to get all emotional about it.

That's what these guys would tell you, if you asked them. But you should not ask them during a playoff basketball game, because they are very busy reacting rationally and logically to events on the court.

"YOU STINK, SEIKALY!" they are informing Miami Heat center Rony Seikaly. "YOU STINK!" they add, by way of clarification. Seikaly has just missed two free throws with less than two minutes to go, and the middle-aged guys all hate him. They are on their feet, their bodies vibrating with fury, their faces dark red and contorted with rage, the muscle cords standing out in their necks. They have never, ever, hated anybody, including Hitler, as much as they hate Rony Seikaly at this particular moment. Hitler was a bad person, yes, but he did not miss important free throws in the playoffs.

These men want to kill Rony Seikaly. They want to see him dismembered and have his eyeballs eaten by rats right there on the basketball court. They want him to . . . .

Wait a minute! Rony has grabbed an offensive rebound! He's putting the ball back up! It's going to go . . . YES! SCORE! WAY TO GO, RONY! YES! HIGH FIVE! MY MAN RONY!! The middle-aged guys love Rony Seikaly. They want to kiss him on the lips. They want to fly to a medical clinic in Sweden and undergo major elective surgery so they can have Rony's children. They cannot believe they are so fortunate as to be on the same planet as such a magnificent human being as Rony Seikaly. He is a giant. He is a god. He is . . . .

He is not guarding his man! His man is blowing right past him for an easy layup! YOU STINK, SEIKALY! YOU STINK!! YOU . . . .

You see my point. Guys, even as they get older, remain deeply concerned about the basic guy issues. These are the core values that have been preserved by guys throughout the millennia. But what about the future? What will happen when the current generation of guys passes away, possibly as a result of trebuchet-related injuries? Is the next generation ready to step up and carry on the guy tradition, with all the responsibilities it entails? This is the question that prompted me to initiate a probing, heart-to-heart conversation with my son.

"Robert," I said. "I need to talk to you about a matter of some importance to the future of humanity."

"Not now," he said. "Me and Trey are setting golf balls on fire."

So the future of guyness looks bright.

Because let's face it, the human race needs guys. I realize that sometimes we can be annoying to you non-guys, but just try to imagine what the world would be like without us. OK, granted, it would smell better. Also there would be a dramatic reduction in violence, intolerance and public nosepicking. But these negatives are far outweighed by the numerous contributions that guys make to society - positive contributions, vital contributions, contributions that are in no way diminished by the fact that I can't, off-hand, think of what they are.

No matter. Guys, and guyness, are here to stay. And although the tone of this has been somewhat flippant, I want to close by saying, in all sincerity, that I hope the effort I have made in these pages will in some small way improve the level of understanding between guys and persons of other genders, so that some day this fragile and troubled world in which we all must exist together will truly be a better and more caring place in which to blah blah blah.