That Heavenly Man Smell

Seize on the image of a metallic, black bird streaking across the sky, before I ask: what’re your concerns, my son? Step right up and tell them to the machine.

I’ve got concerns, man, let me tell you, and when I do, I plunk them right down into this little Google search bar, right here, right on my phone, right when they’re happening.

So, for example, the other night I was being a grinch. Real irritable, closed off, dark, dour. Pretending, maybe, I could be Byronic while really just being bratty. What was it that set me off? I couldn’t remember…What is it ever that sets you off, when suddenly your mood just switches like a flip, and blue skies look dark, jokes seem mean, and you’ve got a chip on your shoulder the size of Gibraltar (and that, let me tell you, is huge)?

But I was trying to change, you see, groping for an answer to explain away my Old Bay crabbiness, and so I pulled out my phone, and typed in, “Sometimes I’m a real moody bastard.”

An impulse, I might add, that is new and exciting: if I’m thinking a thought, I can just type it in without even turning it into a question and, chances are, someone else has had the exact same thought and written about it on the internet! Instant telepathy, depending on how strong your Wi-Fi is. We don’t really have to ask Jeeves anything any more, we just tell him, straight up, and he comes back with a shiny, fun answer on his tray. Why am I being a moody bastard? Because I’ve got IMS. That’s what the internet has told me.

And what, dear reader, is IMS? It’s Irritable Male Syndrome.

Yep. You betcha.

According to this article, dude’s get moody just because they are dudes. Now we have a fun, three letter acronym, too, without the hassle of menstrual bleeding. Men’s movements, rejoice! We get moody because of a “sudden drop in our levels of testosterone.” So there. It’s related to a “loss of male identity,” according to the doctor quoted in the article. So there, times two.

Okay, so I’m not gonna credit or discredit any of this (only to say it has brought me nothing but boat loads of fun). What’s terrific is the way the article ends: with the advice that, if your man is being a real moody bastard, you should just feed the chump and his moodiness will go away, like a ray of sunshine cut through the clouds.

I’m IMSing and hungry (never-mind, also, that IMS apparently doesn’t affect men until they are in their middle ages–I have skimmed over that part for the purposes of my own amusement, so bear with me).

This is excellent advice, and the point the people in the comments section (that modern, mercurial Greek chorus) most gravitate towards.

“My boyfriend gets moody when he doesn’t eat too. It’s really weird, but he’ll suddenly be in the worst mood, snapping away at everyone. the minute i give him a chocolate bar or a sandwich, he’s back to normal again,” says Mimi. She also says, “I don’t think women get moody when they don’t eat, rather maybe when they don’t shop, or their clothes don’t fit!” and I love her for that.

“Its ain’t just men,” says Dean. “My wife gets VERY nasty when she has not eaten.”

“Nah, forget trying to analyse your man, girls,” offers will_r. “You’re better of alone until you find someone perfect.”

Nobody asks the tough question: Ladies? (Uh-huh?) Do you feel crabby when you don’t eat? (Uh-huh!) Well maybe you suffer from irritable male syndrome, too.

It goes on and on for five pages, and it’s pure, sweet, golden nectar. Never-mind that this article was written in 2007–who cares? I’ve found my answer: I’m IMSing and hungry (never-mind, also, that IMS apparently doesn’t affect men until they are in their middle ages–I have skimmed over that part for the purposes of my own amusement, so bear with me). I eat, and I feel better, like that Snickers commercial when a raging Joe Pescie becomes a lovely teenager after eating a chocolate, sugary treat. This is the most round-about, scattershot, Cliff’s Notes version of those self-help books that apparently sell so well, but who needs ’em? This is self-help on the jungle gym of the internet.

This is where madness, curiosity, morbid self attention, and journalism collide. This is pure anarchistic glee, and it goes down like fried ice cream.

Let’s delve a little deeper down this rabbit hole, shall we?

Sometimes, I worry that I smell. We all have that worry, right?

(Right??…guys, come on…) Sometimes, something rotten will drift into your nose, and you know it’s you, only you’re not sure how, or where it’s coming from. You don’t remember letting one rip…but maybe you did! Maybe it ripped against your will, without you knowing it, and pretty soon everyone is going to know it’s you.

Quick! Grab your phone and type in: I smell like… [Fill In The Blank]

You’ll find all sorts of hidden treasures: One article says: This stinks! My boyfriend smells like poop. Oof! Hopefully it’s not Mindi, after shoveling too many chocolate bars down her irritable boyfriend’s throat.

Another says: I smell for some reason, and need your help!? It is both a question and an exclamation, because the urgency is so urgent, only outdone by the number one result: I smell bad please help!!?

But scroll a little deeper, and you might find a discussion board devoted to something called Fecal Body Odor (a discussion board I will not link to, because I feel that the earnestness with which the people on the board were posting doesn’t deserve my snide commentary, so I will protect the anonymity of the already anonymous people posting there…ahem!). The bottom line is this: it results in a back and forth argument between the commentators about how much of the original poster’s perceived smell was the result of him actually smelling badly, and how much of it was all in his imagination.

I think to myself: “I wonder what death is like?” And then I think, quite naturally, “Well, I guess I’ll type that into Google,” only then I stop and realize the acuity of this madness: I’m going to ask the internet what death is like, because I figure, someone out there knows.

Turns out, a startling number of people on the board have been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Fecal Body Odor is something that isn’t an official diagnostic at all (IMS at least has a WebMD article, y’all). What a startling discovery! A twist ending: maybe none of these lads smell at all. Why, maybe it’s mostly all in their heads!

This is drama impossible to comprehend without the internet, because no one would ever write about this. There will be no reality television show about people with OCD suffering through their own body’s odors (imaginary or otherwise), no public service announcement admonishing us about the dangers of IMS.

And it’s brilliant because I, too, have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder! This internet inquiry sounds like a resounding victory to me! Maybe I don’t smell, world! I’m gonna drop the one hundred million obsessive compulsive showers I take in a day to maybe, say, one a year, because the internet has given me a body wash altogether rougher and more cleansing than even the sandiest bar of Irish Springs.

Feeling good, feeling fine, feeling mopey and manly and decidedly unsmelly, I arrive at my final resting place, the point of no return, when I’m riding shotgun in a friend’s car down I-66. They have to slam on their brakes and swerve to avoid hitting any of the millions of people who tempt fate by traveling down that nightmarish road every day, and I think to myself: “I wonder what death is like?”

And then I think, quite naturally, “Well, I guess I’ll type that into Google,” only then I stop and realize the acuity of this madness: I’m going to ask the internet what death is like, because I figure, someone out there knows.

Joel Osteen, perhaps? That kid who looks eerily like Jonathan Lipnicki (you know, the little tyke from the 1999 Stuart Little movie?) and keeps trying to convince everyone that Heaven Is For Real?       Problem is, I have to pay to get a glimpse of their wisdom, and I guess I don’t really trust any of the people on these comment sections and message boards. After all, Mindi thinks women only get irritable when they don’t shop, and the FBO boys have OCD, and are just as neurotic and as untrustworthy as myself. Greek choruses lie and mislead, as they do, and have the uncanny impulse to bash each other with homophobic slurs constantly, all the time. Comment sections are a masochist maze that you should tred, but tred lightly.

The internet cannot help me with death, it seems (although Reddit has an interesting thread where people who have been clinically dead are asked what it feels like to die, and it’s a lively read, all it’s own). Maybe someday the tubes of the internet will even be able to cross the pesky Styx (Google Glass for the Recently Deceased, perhaps?).

Of course, I won’t hold my breath (and neither should you! This doesn’t smell that bad, come on…). Of course, sometimes even religion seems to have a slippery grasp on the Big Question: What Comes Next? The most devout nations sometimes seem embroiled in a violence without end, while those pesky Satanists work quietly and peacefully to lobby against stricter access to contraceptives (the Devil’s in Miss Jones, but they’d both like to be safe about it, you see). In times like these, when the world seems to be falling to pieces around our ears, we need new myths and new gods.
Gods like Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber, pasting each other a couple of good ones for the benefit of a cynical world (IMSing, but how!).

You didn’t hear? (Yes you did, you’re as obsessed as I am, and now you can’t really hang your Legolas poster beside your Bieber one, can you? Tough times keep getting tougher.)
Word ’round the campfire is Orlando Bloom clocked Justin Bieber in the face (but good) while in the presence of those other gods, Leonardo DiCaprio (our Dionysus of Apollonian theatre who apparently cheered Bloom on) and Lindsay Lohan (our other Dionysus, of wine and reality television). The thirty-seven year old Hobbit star gave the twenty year old Baby performer (a great idol of the late Ann Frank, it turns out) the ‘ol one-two. Er, that’s what the rumor mill will have you think. Apparently, there’s a video floating around, showing Orlando Bloom indeed swinging at Bieber, but missing.

I will not watch that video. I have no interest in this modern myth being reduced to ugly facts and inconvenient truths. I’m not going to thump my chest and rah! rah! Bieber’s humiliation: I don’t know Bieber, have nothing against him, and don’t even belieb he was just in a wheelchair at Disney World to cut lines. (If you’re Justin Bieber, you’re already cutting lines, legs or no legs.)
I care because it’s a heart throb getting thrashed by another heart throb (as Mara Wilson so eloquently tweeted), and this is that hyper space where our gods (love ’em or hate ’em) meet up and cross over. Batman vs Superman, Freddy vs Jason, Zeus vs Hades, Orlando vs Justin…This. Is. Awesome.

And it would be over Miranda Kerr, wouldn’t it? Or Selena Gomez? It’s the Iliad, all over again. Selena of Troy: the Disney Star that launched a thousand ships and started the war. Who gets to be Achilles, is the real question? And who, prey, gets to be Hecter, that poor bastard who ends up nailed to the back of a chariot and hauled out in front of the crowds, humiliated and defeated?
It looks right now like ‘ol Bieber is Hecter, but wasn’t he the wiser and elder in the original story? It’s ancient mythology with a twist! And all of us internet commentators and gossip mongers get to rise up from the part of Greek chorus to that of Homer, blind poet, perpetuating myth and spitting right in the eye of reality. Who cares? It’s celebrity death match, and those little clay fighters were normally more ecstatic and exciting than any mere mortal could wish to be.

No, let’s pray the internet never gets regulated. Please? Leave our pornographic myth machine alone, because it’s going to be impossible to explain all of this (ANY OF THIS) to the future generations.

I want to end this by poking briefly into international politics: there is a petition going straight to the White House about declaring July 29th, the day Orlando Bloom forced Justin Bieber to eat the knuckle sandwich that heard ’round the world, into an official holiday. Orlando Bloom Day! This is, of course, floated by the same guys who petitioned to have ‘ol J. Biebs kicked right out of the country after his latest DUI. I wish I were Obama when these things floated across my desk. I’d pull the tape off of my laptop’s video camera, and make one of my trusty Youtube videos, and I’d scrape together more hits than one million Orlando Blooms could possibly hope to rain down on Justin Bieber (god or no god). This is, also, why I’ll never be President, because I’d ask for more donations at the end of this historic video, and lobby to run for a third term off the popularity the video would no doubt give me. I’d also do it while falling out of a plane, and I’d film it with a Go-Pro.
A Go-Pro attached to a drone, and THIS brings me to my final point: Justin Bieber and Orlando Bloom fighting (and the myths they propel) are great for our country. They’re great, because they’re the kind of conflicts people can wrap their heads around and actually feel excited about. The terrifying nonsense that occurs daily around the globe so we can shovel the world right back into the Cold War, and so a couple of arthritic fingers can seize ownership of a few more states, while Nuclear Detente festers in the background, simultaneously making everything mind bogglingly terrifying WHILE ALSO holding fast against too dramatic of a change?

Huff, huff, huff…

Nah, all of that is horrible. Rotten. Ugh.

Of course, there are always shadowy figures who want to restrict this mad, joyful rush of information known as the internet (check out Russia at the beginning of this month, voting to enhance online restrictions…the work, probably, of several gray men suffering from a mean case of IMS and jonesing for a candy bar. Also, maybe Bloom and Bieber should settle in for a snack, too). No, let’s pray the internet never gets regulated. Please? Leave our pornographic myth machine alone, because it’s going to be impossible to explain all of this (ANY OF THIS) to the future generations.

At least if we someday lose the instant gratification the internet provides, we’ll still know a world where the skies are stocked full of Amazon drones. Instead of these sleazy, back alley self-help centers known as Forums, we’ll have to go back to ordering self-help books in actual book form, and pray some jockstrap sitting on his front porch doesn’t shoot the drone out of the sky that’s going to deliver the book to you.

That’s the future: a sky dark with drones carrying internet goods from Amazon.com, and a national landscape scattered with the metal beasts a couple of good old boys have managed to shoot down. Doesn’t that sound like terrific fun? Not that I’m advocating it, mind you, but what better way to take your mind off the anxieties of the international scene than squeezing off at a metallic black bird crawling through the sky, that may or may not drop a couple of exciting books down on your front lawn?

One of ’em could even be little Jonathan Lipnicki’s Heaven Is For Real. After you’ve shot the drone, and that sucker lands on your head, maybe you’ll find out the truth for yourself.

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