Burping, farting, scratching, drinking beer, watching the game on television.
Sex, unreasonable girlfriends, sex, getting nagged, sex, interfering parents, sex.
We talked about it all.
At the Missouri People First conference this weekend I was asked to lead a 'men's group' discussion. I was told that it was to be a free for all, free from staff, free to talk session for men with intellectual disabilities. I was to facilitate, not lead, the discussion. I was, simply put, panic struck. I am not easy in these kinds of situtations. I may look casual when I present or do a session but I'm not. Everything is scripted. I know what happens when and how to get from start to finish.
So, to keep myself calm, I put together a "Chant For Men" and then a "Man Show" question and answer game. Thus, I felt prepared. But I wasn't. They streamed in. There must have been near a hundred of them. My mouth was dry. My insecurities mounted. I had an hour and a quarter, 75 minutes to fill. That's a long time. An eternity.
So we did the Man Chant.
I called out things that men like and the group called back, in unison, "Who-Rah". After the first line they shouted down the ceiling. This was a group of men who were ready to talk. To have fun. So I opened it up. Hands shot up. Everyone had something to say.
They talked about being seen as 'boys' not 'men' by society, by agencies, by parents.
They talked about parents interfering in their relationships - with threats and tantrums.
They talked about girlfriends who were too clingy or not clingy enough.
Sometimes we laughed so hard as a group that tears were flowing down. Sometimes, "Who-Rah" was shouted spontaneously by the group as a way of affirming a speaker. Sometimes we talked about the pain of being seen as asexual because of disability.
We never played the Man Game I made up.
75 minutes later, we were done.
We had just talked. Guy to guy. Man to man.
We had laughed. At the absurdity of prejudice and the silliness of society.
We had shared. Like men. Like guys. Like slightly irregular people.