We recently added Jackbox Games to our game nights and it’s so inappropriately hilarious. It’s essentially a collection of mini games most of which rely on your ability to be funny and inappropriate as quick as you can. You need plenty of wits, a flexible funny bone and a bit of black in your grey matter and I took to this game like fish to water. Surprisingly enough most members of the game-night party has too. Intelligence, Humor and a filthy mind seem to often appear together, going hand in hand, each reinforcing one another and this is my story of how it came to be.
I can only speak for myself, and perhaps I’m merely attempting to ‘therapist’ my way out of what I perceive to be my deepest flaws but it is still why I think things turned out to be the way they are.
The story begins in my school playground back in seventh grade. Picture a fast paced football game. Since its the seventh grade, there’s no decided form. Except for the two goalies, literally everyone else is running behind the ball from one end to the other. Well almost everyone. I’m the kid standing next to the goalie leaning on the post having a chat with him on ‘defense’ hoping the ball doesn’t come my way. I just wanted to fit in. Sports isn’t my strong suit. It doesn’t excite me as it did my peers. I don’t follow cricket, something my country is obsessed with or football, something everyone who likes to think they are too cool for cricket is obsessed with. I play for fun, but the competitive sort isn’t quite my thing. Not that I’m not a competitive person at all, just not with sports. Seeing my friend fret over the math teacher taking over the P.E classes to complete the syllabus on time, my brother weeping over his favorite team losing the world cup didn’t quite speak to me. My indifference to sports was never a problem before puberty came knocking though. Because you see the perception of what’s cool and what’s not gets all twisted around the time we start sprouting hair in funky places. I was the smart kid, until then my identity revolved around the kid who did good at school, and that was fulfilling enough. Teenage though, shrugs the smart ones into the geeky loser category and the ones easy on the eyes or those who could jump the longest steal the limelight. Smartness and good grades seemed to make only my parents happy, which of course was all that seemed important until puberty shifted my sense of validation and approval to my peers. That’s when humor made its entrance. Mostly self depreceating, with a hint of sarcasm, at times aimed at authoritative figures seemed to work.
However, humor gets the looks but it still won’t get you the respect. The feeling that I didn’t fit well into the edges of all things manly would constantly weigh down on me. I couldn’t play well, I didn’t know the names of cars and bikes and I mostly stuck to books and video games and quizzes and debates. Not for a lack of trying either, I tried sitting with my dad and brother during cricket matches, I tried learning more about the cars on Need for Speed but it didn’t quite have the desired effect. Can’t really force yourself to like something, can you? The thing is I could ask my friends to teach me FIFA on the PS3 and go at it losing repeatedly till I got the hang of it but asking them to teach me for real, standing in the field fumbling with the ball made me way too conscious. A mic on stage before an audience of hundred felt lighter than a bat in the playground surrounded by 10 of my own friends. The underlying fear of not being masculine enough would soon pave way for the perversion to come. Boiling down to the basics, the whole point of alpha males being the strongest or most aggressive is to get the most fertile of the mates. Perhaps civilization would allow me to skip a step? Nobody would beat you up if they thought their girlfriend might end up tending to your wounds.
I guess it began with an innocent slightly off color joke. Something very juvenile but still genius wordplay for a bunch of 14 year olds. I distinctly remember noticing that the laughs were different. The looks were different. I logged onto the internet that day and went through 1001 risque jokes on a website. That’s what the website was called – 1001 Naughty jokes or something along those lines. It was like research. I didn’t understand much and one joke led to a bit of googling, which gave me more questions than answers, which led to more googling and so on. You know how you go on Youtube to watch a movie trailer and end up on a video of a tap dancing Giraffe within 6 clicks on the ‘related videos’ section? Thanks to a pretty cool memory, all I needed to remember was the first joke of each page and the rest would flow on its own. And the next day, I made four of my friends laugh non-stop for two complete hours. Of course sex ed is still pretty much non existent in India and my friends had the same questions that I had but luckily I was prepared and explained everything to the best of my knowledge. And boy were they dumbstruck! I’m not really proud of it, being the textbook ‘bad influence’ of sorts. But it’s what happened. I didn’t know back then why I was doing these things, all I knew was it felt good. The fact that it did because I felt that I was starting to be accepted as a ‘guy’ amongst my peers is a revelation that didn’t occur until years later during a late night conversation with a close friend.
So fast forward to a couple of years and I was holding sessions in the last couple of rows in my class during free hours clearing the various doubts my friends had in matters of girls and sex. I had absolutely no experience either, just as much as them. It was all from the internet. And no, not from porn, not just from porn, but more like health forums, reddit queries and sometimes even these marriage counseling websites. Again, the ways of my country helped. It’s still not the norm here for people to be losing their virginities before they are 18, school kids have barely begun making out in the past half a decade or so. Premarital sex is a huge taboo, and adults frown upon high school kids in movies getting into relationships. ‘Love’ was reserved for when we got into college, and its almost always love at first sight. Kids don’t really get their own rooms until maybe high school unless your family is too well off, with usually one computer per household situated right in the living room. Of course the scene has vastly changed now. I’m talking from the upper ends of the millennial generation, born in the 90s. So you put it all together, until high school began, having a go-to guy for all your questions about the opposite gender and sometimes your own, helped. God it sounds awkward typing it out now, but at that time it was a strange sense of respect that I felt. Guys are vulnerable when it comes to doubts, the locker room talk is a myth, we don’t explicitly discuss much, especially not in the early days of teenage years. So during that brief discussion when they come to me with a question, they were me with the bat in a playground, and I was the confident alpha male running up to throw the ball.
Like I said in the beginning, the three traits always go hand in hand. The smartness helped me sniff out bullshit from the abundance of ‘knowledge’ on the internet, and added a extra layer of credibility to whatever I said in the eyes of my friends. The humor helped ease out the situation and make all things comfortable for everybody. It just stuck. ‘The dude who turns everything dirty’ pretty much became my identity and I have been extensively living up to it since. In spite of growing out of the teenage angst phase and knowing better that there is no fixed definition for something as abstract as someone’s masculinity and finding so many like- minded people, I barely remember how to make clean jokes anymore. Or how to answer a question like a normal person. Anything that pops out of my mouth is smooth or dirty or a witty quip or a sarcastic comment and there is no way of knowing what it is I do mean and what I don’t. This shit costs me relationships. There’s nothing left to be done anymore but to sit and wait. Someone will come along who can see through the layers and call me out on my bullshit and attempt to know what lies underneath. And for that, we wait.