Guys embrace cheeky humor

My family was dining in a swank restaurant when the waiter, in his best Inspector Clouseau accent, recited "today's especiales."

My sons and I listened politely, minding our manners, until the waiter said the seafood special was "halibut cheeks." We didn't hear the rest -- how the halibut cheeks were prepared or what accompanied them. We were too busy snorting, trying not to laugh.

The waiter looked puzzled. My sons and I exploded into laughter. The waiter looked more puzzled. I explained, in my best Beavis-and-Butthead snicker, "You said 'hali-BUTT CHEEKS.'"

My wife blushed and rolled her eyes and said, "Oh, my God." My sons fell out laughing. So did I. The waiter -- and this is the key thing here -- violated all swank-restaurant rules of conduct and erupted in laughter, too.

Why? Because he's a guy, that's why. Say "halibut cheeks" to any guy in America, up to and including Vice President Dick Cheney, and he'll at least smile. Say it in a swank restaurant with a stuffy foreign accent, and he'll laugh so hard that a recent beverage will shoot from his nostrils.

It's different for women. Say "halibut cheeks" to a woman in a fancy restaurant, smirkingly await a response, and here's what you'll get: "I can't take you anywhere." Which is, of course, the truth.

The scientific name for this basic difference between men and women is "The Three Stooges Standard." If you enjoy the slapstick comedy of The Three Stooges, this theorem goes, then you are male.

(Yes, yes, social scientists recognize that this is a blatant generality. Somewhere there is a woman who loves the Stooges, who runs around her house going "whoop-whoop-whoop" and throwing cream pies. And somewhere there is a snooty male intellectual who looks down his nose at the antics of Moe, Curly and Larry. Our only hope is that that woman and that man find each other and get married. Then they'll see what the rest of us are up against.)

My wife, who is not male, has a great sense of humor, but she doesn't care for the low-brow stuff. She is, in fact, often embarrassed by the behavior of her husband and sons, particularly in swank restaurants. As the only woman in the household, she's constantly surrounded by three testosterone-fueled goofballs who find hilarious any mention of, say, the planet Uranus.

The boys and I try to rein ourselves in when my wife's around, but we often fail. Someone will mention the hirsute actor "Harry Pitts" and we're off to the races.

When she's not around, we guys completely devolve into lower primates. We tease and curse and belch and make crude anatomical references, all in an attempt to make the other guys laugh. We behave much worse than The Three Stooges ever did. We're Beavis and Butthead and Butthead Jr.

I know I should set a better example for my sons, but I'm as goofy as they are, and can't seem to stop. I secretly take great pride in their comedic talents, no matter how unseemly. For instance, Butthead Jr. can burp the entire alphabet, but don't tell Mom.

Our locker-room behavior is, of course, inexcusable. My wife is correct when she says she can't take us anywhere. In particular, she's learned she can't take us to swank seafood restaurants.

Because the Appetizer of the Day was "crab balls."

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