Boys, stop being boys

Boys, stop being boys

I was a boy being a boy. I mean I had a lot of fun. I played a lot. All the sports and riding bikes and little kid parties and building model cars with glue and smashing them against walls and eating candy and rolling pumpkins down steep streets and school dances. Riding the ski bus, 19-cent burgers, Pez, piano lessons, road trips to national parks, camping, scouts, boogie boarding.

While a boy I often encountered boys who were (I felt) pointlessly petty and just plain mean. Loud and needlessly aggressive, their getting up close to other boys and all intimidating for some ridiculous reason or other, like maybe they thought you said something or made some gesture or had some expression on your face they took exception to. Bullies, then, but there was a broad range of bullying behavior widespread among the boys that wasn't perceived as bullying but was still that ridiculous I-have-to-dominate-you-somehow behavior that manifested in so many different ways as these boys blindly followed their unconscious directives, their undeveloped, fledgling ego helpless to intervene, constantly posing and re-adjusting their pose and looking around for acknowledgment of their bigness, their powerfulness, their occupying-of- space.

While I enjoyed boyhood immensely and took full advantage of all it had to offer, the behavior of these boys was annoying and tiresome because at that time in my life I just wanted to play. Play for these boys, though, was serious somehow, so it was not play but something else, like some kind of justification or recognition, and when they felt unjustified or unrecognized, they would get upset and mean and petty, sometimes push and shove, sometimes slink away or stomp off. Playing was not for fun, it was an event solely about them, an arena in which they must take center stage and be validated. There was a lot of this acting and acting out by the boys, and it was irritating and frustrating. These boys spoiled all the fun, and they did so too often. There was a lot of fun left on the table because of their nascent, ill-formed egos, overwhelmed by unconscious urges and cultural programming to "be a man."

And a lot of fun that could be had, that should be had, a lot of what we might even call joy, the joy we might enjoy in all our lives, is still scuttled by these same boys, now grown men, these old white men on TV, still being boys with their undeveloped and overwhelmed egos, broadcasting their ridiculous paranoid attitudes and spouting hateful, divisive speech. Standing there behind the podium or strutting on the stage with their puffed upness and I’m-so-serious look, with their lapel pins and ties and starch, so intent on making everything about them and not us, so that everything becomes the story of them vs. us and us vs. them, spoiling all the fun that could be had by all and the joyfulness that would ensue.

It was maddening when I was a boy and maddening to the point of physical distress now observing all the desperately self-important boys posing as men still acting out unconscious urges, imposing their psychological maladies and developmental stasis on all of us, these same boys who used to spoil our childhood play now poisoning the air and water, manipulating and exploiting in order, still, to gain that justification, that recognition, that feeling of power, their little boys egos crave.

And it's like there's no end to it as long as they are stuck with their boyhood egos. And now as then I want to ask them "What do you want, anyway?" when they get up close, trying to be all intimidating with their expensive suits, their cowboy hats, with their oh-so-serious tone and their private jets, with their sheaf of papers, with their guns. What do you want? What do you want to see in my eyes as you stare me down with your fishy dead eyes and your thin lips? Do you want to see an acknowledgement of your dominance? Do you want to see recognition? Do you want to see fear?

I want to say to them please stop, you're spoiling everything, but they can't stop. They are stuck, and we are stuck with them, until they die, unhappy and unfulfilled little boys.