The ultimate “Guide to Guys”

Humorist Dave Barry is a master at making the most mundane and frustrating human tendencies and experiences seem funny, a talent he employs expertly in his 1995 release, Dave Barry’s Guide to Guys. Within it he attempts to explain, as best he can, the deep emotional reasons guys act the way they do. He eventually reaches the conclusion that there are none.

Unlike many of Barry’s previously published works, Guide to Guys is not a collection of his Pulitzer-prize winning humor columns from the Miami Herald but a full-fledged book that tries its best to explain to its readers (presumably females) why guys do the things they do. As examples, he recalls two men who launched themselves off a ski ramp in a canoe, and another who spends most of his free time building a giant trebuchet designed to hurl Buicks.

Amazingly, he is not making these stories up. He also covers such basic guy behavior as scratching and spitting, and teaches women how to form functional relationships with creatures just barely removed from their Stone Age ancestors.

As in all his works, Barry teases his subjects with a good-natured ridicule designed to expose the funny side of the truth. He depends not on macho excuses to explain male behavior, nor on sentimental and introspective examination into their psyches, but draws on the fact that like dogs or snakes, men are unable to grasp any well-defined moral code.

He reiterates the fact that, contrary to most women’s opinions, guys are mostly helpless at distinguishing the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. He emphasizes the difference between guys and men, and the way they view themselves.

Men, when confronted with a raging river in the wilderness, will build a dam. Guys will have contests to determine who can pee the farthest off the dam. Men are doberman pinschers. Guys are labrador retrievers. A good example of a man would be Geraldo. A good example of a guy would be Katie Couric.

As with any book covering the specifics of a gender, Guide to Guys is filled with stereotypes. Barry acknowledges that not all guys are thick, emotionally clueless, sports-obsessed creatures, just as some women have the ability to get highly competitive about things like racquetball. But his endearing, blatantly stated, generally true observations are what makes the book so funny. Dave Barry’s Guide to Guys is a great read for both women who get a kick out of the male psyche and humor-centric gentlemen who don’t mind being compared, behavior-wise, to tapeworms.