At CVS today Ben got spazzy and manhandled me, grabbing my shoulders and bussing me into the plastic house shoes. I was shocked. I watched my reflection in his Ray-Bans be shocked. I could tell he was also shocked, but he was still pumped from his spazzy testosterone burst and a smile nicked the corners of his mouth.
Before that we had lunch at Jimmy John's.
It's a strange place. It tries very hard to maintain its college sub-shop theme, right down to the the-only-way-to-explain-this-band's-success-is-to-do-a-lengthy-study-of-the-frat-mindset-somewhat-similar-to-method-acting-wherein-one-dons-cargo-shorts-and-smelly-flipflops-and-sweats-beer-and-turns-the-volume-up-when-Collective-Soul-comes-on-and-slowly-realizes-that-Kid-Rock-was-right-about-everything soundtrack. The music was loud and the signage was depressing, similar to how the poster section at Wal-Mart is depressing. (Across from me today was a sign printed with that e-mail forward everyone gets about how amazing the human brain is because it can read words without vowels and still get the gist. I just know whoever had that sign printed wished to God it was possible to install a tiny camera just above it to catch the looks of awe and wonderment on people's faces as their brain understood words comprised of only consonants and/or as they realized that this sign was all too familiar; in fact, this exact sign sat forgotten in their virtual wastebasket in Outlook, nestled between the one about John Lennon pissing God off and the one about the lone hunter wrasslin a giant grizzly to its death.)
Anyway, the signs and the music, coupled with the all-too-tah-tah sandwich names (the Vito, Totally Tuna) and the red, black and white color scheme, made me feel a bit like I'd just walked in on my dad cleaning his guns in his undies while watching NASCAR. A little creepy, a little nostalgic, a little, well, manly.
When I got back to the office a co-worker told me how she'd noticed that there was an inordinate amount of male customers there. In her JJ's study she'd noticed that there were often lines out the door, but that they were lines of men rarely interspersed with women. So men feel comfortable, perhaps even awesome, ordering a Turkey Tom or a Bootlegger and nodding along to the likes of Ugly Kid Joe and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
And then it hit me: JJ's is a filling station for testosterone. Men, hungry not just for something roast beef-y, but hungry also for something beefy, queue out the door for their daily intake of man. They walk in broken, emasculated by office conversations about Grey's Anatomy and The View, considering pedicures and chair massages at Whole Foods just to be able to forget it all for a while, and they walk out with chests wide, fists balled, nostrils flared, sandwich/chips/drink combo swinging at their sides to the beat of Three Doors Down, delighted at the fact that they read "Yr brn ndrstnds wrds wtht vwls" on the first try.
And then they stomp into CVS, grease-finger the magazines, ponder the Slim Jims, and manhandle their girlfriends in the "Summer Fun!" aisle.
At least it doesn't last long. Behind his Ray-Bans Ben knew what he'd done even before that size 7 house shoe stopped swinging. He apologized and bought me the toothbrush holders I ordered him to buy me, and then I knew things were back to normal.