I grew up with older brothers and a father who are by definition “dudes”. They’re men. And manly men, too. As a result, I usually get why dudes do what they do. I get why flatulence is hilarious. I get why they need things said straight up. I get that they don’t understand mind games that women like to play. I get why punching is sometimes better than talking. I even get that when a guy is staring off into space and a woman asks him what he’s thinking about and he responds with, “Nothing,” that it is the truth and a completely valid response. Dudes can idle. Like a car. Turn their thinking mechanism off while still sit there and look like they’re running. It’s miraculous.
Last night as a bunch of us 20somethings were playing some “friendly” dodgeball, I realized something about dudes that I don’t understand.
Dudes can’t take it easy when they’re playing sports.
As I watched all of these strapping young men (and one old brown dude*) whip rubber balls at each other (and at me) I noticed their intensity. I noticed their focus. And I noticed that not one of them had a smile on their face.
It was terrifying.
I’ve taught many a gym class and have seen this on a smaller scale. Sweet little boys suddenly turned into competitive monsters as soon as you put an elephant skin ball in their hands. When they’re tiny, it’s still cute, watching them struggle to get the ball to the other side of the gym. But once they grow a couple of feet, add a bunch of muscle and some facial hair and their voices drop an octave or so, it suddenly turns from cute to startling. These men, whom I spend time with on a regular basis, whom I trust, whom I know are gushy little teddy bears inside did not even notice me writhing in pain on the ground. They thought my bruises were kind of funny. They lost any bit of sweetness that I know they have as soon as we put them in the gym with some balls.
I don’t get it.
Gentlemen, please explain this transformation to me. As I ice my bruises today, I’d really love an explanation.
*you’ll hear from him in the next few weeks