(This Dave Barry column was originally published November 12, 2000.)
Today we present: Masculine Medical News For Men. Our first item concerns what could be the most significant medical discovery for men since the invention of the electric nose-hair trimmer. According to an Associated Press article sent in by alert reader Shirley Damiano, researchers at the University of Chicago have discovered that -- and here, to indicate the importance of this breakthrough, we will activate our keyboard's ''Caps Lock'' feature -- MEN NEED SLEEP.
The reason for this is hormones, which are chemicals that our bodies produce so they can take control away from our brains. For example, men produce a hormone that compels them to watch instant replays on TV. If a man is watching a football game, a moose could walk into the room wearing a tutu, and the man will not notice, because his hormones are forcing him to watch, possibly for the sixth time, a football player fall down in slow motion. Women do not produce this hormone but they do produce one that compels them to rearrange furniture, and another one that causes them to believe they can improve their appearance by using a tiny pencil to draw dark lines around their eyeballs.
So anyway, according to the University of Chicago researchers, men produce a hormone that causes them to develop muscle mass, which they need to perform masculine tasks that are biologically necessary for human survival, such as operating the remote control. The thing is, men produce this particular hormone ONLY DURING DEEP SLEEP. If they don't get enough sleep, they become flabby.
In other words, men, the reason that you do not have the chiseled physique of a male underwear model is NOT that you have the same exercise habits as a cheese log: It's that you're not getting enough deep sleep! For your medical health, you must change your lifestyle immediately. I'm sure your spouse will be supportive.
YOUR SPOUSE: Dear, could you take out the garbage, mow the lawn and help me move a 350-pound sofa around the living room until I finally decide that I like it best in its original location?
YOU: Gosh, honey, I sure wish I could! But I need to get some deep sleep so I can build muscle mass.
YOUR SPOUSE: Gee, I guess that IS medically more important!
YOU: Thanks, honey! And by the way, those eyeball lines are very attractive!
I think there should be a TV exercise show call ''Muscle Mass for Men.'' It would be similar to other exercise shows, except that instead of annoyingly perky women prancing around to annoying music, ''Muscle Mass for Men'' would consist of eight to 10 uninterrupted hours of a man sleeping in a Barca-Lounger. I can envision a nationwide chain of Men's Muscle Mass Fitness Centers, equipped with state-of-the-art beds. Fitness-conscious men could spend entire weekends at these centers, watching golf on TV and secreting vital hormones. (Anybody who thinks you can't watch golf and sleep at the same time has never watched golf.)
OK, men! We've got you on a medically sound masculine fitness program, scientifically based on an actual newspaper clipping. Before you know it, your muscles are going to be so massive that you may have to move up to a larger potato-chip-bag size (''Small Village'') to provide your new physique with adequate nutrition.
But even the manliest man can become sick or injured. The question is: What should you do if you need medical treatment? The masculine answer is: Try to fix the problem yourself. Real men know that many so-called ''serious'' health problems, such as a sucking chest wound, that the so-called ''medical profession'' will charge you an arm and a leg to correct, can be easily treated via simple home remedies such as duct tape.
For a good example of a man treating himself in a manly medical manner, let us consider a newspaper clipping sent in by alert reader Joel Prange from the Redding (Calif.) Record Searchlight, concerning a man in Tehama County who had a painful corn on his toe. Now, if this man had gone to see a doctor, who knows what he would have been charged? So, according to the article, which I am not making up, the man ``decided to shoot it with his 22-caliber rifle.''
And guess what? It worked out FINE, except that he injured his foot and had to be taken to the hospital for treatment and may face legal charges. This is why the American Medical Association states: ''For foot problems, it's a lot easier to aim a pistol.'' Although. of course. nobody is suggesting that you should attempt this without ANY preparation. First, you should sleep.
(c) Dave Barry
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