Sh*t Guys Do

Men reveal their favorite “guy rituals,” not all of which (reading a newspaper on the can, for one) are fully appreciated by the women in our lives.

We asked men from across the country—including Sebastian Junger, Robert Pinsky, Andrew Sullivan, and James Franco—to name their favorite “guy ritual.”

Franco may have hit upon the most consummate male ritual—reading a newspaper on the toilet. When I dared bring this up to friends at a recent social gathering, I had no idea it would cause such an uproar.

A woman who works in the personal wealth division of a multinational bank had some choice words about male coworkers who disappeared with the office’s communal Wall Street Journal. “The guys grab it, disappear, and then bring the damn thing back twenty minutes later!” she said. “It’s supposed to be for clients. Why don’t you just scream at the top of your lungs, ‘Hey everybody, I’m going to take a crap now!'”

The women were of one mind: this behavior is disgusting and highly unethical, made worse by occasionally leaving the toilet seat up. The guys at the party stood behind our man James Franco and the bankers looking for a few moments of peace and quiet.

Fortunately, most of the “guy rituals” below are not poop-related.

What is your most cherished guy ritual? I hope you’ll let us know in the comments.

“Drinking beers in the garage with my buddies.”
Glenn Lyman, personal chef to LeBron James. (Sadly, Lyman will have to find himself a new garage and some new buddies, because he’s headed to Miami.)

“Being summoned to deal with a spider, a mouse, or some other critter that frightens my wife or grown daughter. Critters like these don’t really scare me at all, and I’m not sure I understand why they scare so many women. I think mice in particular are cute, actually. I trap them live to set them free outside.”
Arthur Golden, author

Taking a piss standing up with my arm leaning against the wall. Smoking a cigar. Growing my beard. Scratching my ass.”
Andrew Sullivan, blogger and author

“Since I was on the wrestling team in high school, I have had the same set of push-up bars. Every morning since I was, say, 15 or 16, I have done fifty pushups using those push-up bars, which I have carried with me on my travels around the world.”
David Abel, journalist

“A manicure or pedicure, like the girls do. Don’t let them have all the fun!”
Dave Winfield, Hall of Fame baseball player

“Reading on the toilet.”
James Franco, actor

“Standing in a circle among men and checking in, from the base of my balls through the channels of my heart!”
Michael Pierce, actor

“Playing pick-up basketball. I have two sons. I’ll play with both of them or one of them at a time. I used to play with my dad, so it means a lot to me. I’m the type of dad who will not let my kids beat me at anything. I trash talk to the kids, and they don’t like it, and that gets them frustrated. But it’s sort of my way of trying to get them used to the real world.”
Brady Udall, author

“Slice and dice.”
Stephen Siegal, urologist

“Every day, Monday through Friday, at some point in the day, I call my friend, Eddy, or he calls me. Sometimes we talk for five minutes, sometimes an hour. We’ve done this for five or six years. We’ve kept it up through health and sickness, crisis and calm, births and deaths. There’s something really magical about keeping up with this little commitment. We talk about what’s going on, our plans for the day, tell stories, discuss music and culture and stuff that we think is stupid or pisses us off. This ritual keeps us strong and keeps us connected. It reminds me that I’m stronger walking through life with a good man as a friend than I would be if I tried to be a good man without one. I highly recommend it.”
Todd Mauldin, bluesman

“Watching very tough soldiers say ‘I love you’ to one another before rolling outside the wire in Iraq.”
Michael Kamber, photojournalist

“Making fun of my dad for being so old.”
Jason Craig, high school student

“Peeing in the toilet with my son, Darius. Been doing it for years. He was into pirates last year, so we would say, ‘X marks the pee spot’ as we crossed streams. I can’t wait until he see Ghostbusters. Then we can warn each other, “Don’t cross the streams!”
Ben Anagnos, tutor

“Every March, I get together with three college buddies and go to the Big East Conference basketball finals. We go out to dinner beforehand, then relax and turn into sports fans with no agenda and nothing to prove to each other. There’s nothing like drinking a couple of beers and yelling with friends.”
Tom Jolly, journalist

“One of my favorite man rituals is when the priest or Rabbi says the words “You May Kiss The Bride,” and the good guys pause and a bubble appears over their head like in a cartoon and it says, “Holly Molly! She’s mine and there are 300 people staring at me right now so I better not blow this kiss!” Where’s Al Gore when you need him?

Another favorite and very telling moment is when the groom gets fixated on his tie. It’s a funny moment because it’s a sign he has definitely gotten the Wedding Bug and is desperate to be able to control at least one thing about his wedding.”
Bryan Rafanelli, luxury event planner. (He’s planning Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.)

“Rolling around in the grass like a dog with my dog.”
Tom Jones, waiter

“Sunday night, I sit down and write down everything I have to do during the upcoming week on a steno pad, with little check-mark boxes for each. It keeps life orderly and fends off the chaos. Checking those boxes is the most satisfying thing I do every day. In fact, when I finish this sentence, I will check another one. Ahhhh.
Will Leitch, author and journalist.

“My iPhone (the iPhone 4, of course, which I stood online at 5 a.m. to buy on launch day) never leaves my hand, pocket, or reach. I have a 24″ iMac with dual monitors, Macbook Pro, PS3, GPS, 60″ HD TV, Skype, and somewhere down the line a 3D TV may make it into my life—not to mention facebook, youtube, twitter, my blog, vimeo, etc. I’m pretty ‘connected’ or never ‘disconnected’ from technology as my wife freely points out. With all of the radiation seeping into my brain there is one ritual I refuse to update. I read the actual paper version of the Wall Street Journal religiously every morning cover to cover while I drink my coffee. I always start with the ‘quirky’ story on the bottom of page 1, then on to the marketplace section searching for the inevitable daily love fest over Apple, and then make my way back through the other sections and usually finish up on the toilet, since that cup of coffee makes me poop in ten minutes flat.

My friends want to know why I don’t just read it on an iPad or on my phone or computer. I don’t know, really. I was never a newspaper reader growing up, my parents were divorced, and other than the Sunday Times my dad never really read the paper. On the weekends, when my news print fix doesn’t present itself a bit too far from my doorstep, I miss that ritual and try to substitute it with the label of a ketchup bottle label or any random printed article within reach at the breakfast table, yet I’m never quite satisfied.”
Darin Hager, designer and entrepreneur

“Washing my piece of shit car.”
Michael Carter, landscaper

“Washing under my foreskin.”
Duncan Roy, filmmaker

“I read a chapter of the Bible early every morning.”
Mark Stevens, criminal defense attorney

“I size up the situation, devise a strategy to address this seemingly insurmountable challenge, and then execute that plan to perfection. Thus do I perform my daily ritual of loading the dishwasher with every damn dirty glass, plate, knife, fork, spoon, pot, and pan. I suspect this feat doesn’t impress my wife quite as much as she leads me to believe it does.”
Larry Bean, journalist

“It’s really about the baby right now. In the last two years, I’ve seen basically every sunrise, which has been sort of amazing. At a certain point you’re not sure how many more sunrises you’re going to see. And then I’ve seen every one since she’s been born. We get up together, and we have this sort of meditation thing in the morning for two or three hours—until her mom gets up—where we’re just together, just in this really quiet time that I really cherish.”
Nick Flynn, author

“Not sure if this fits, but I like the little, comically exaggerated, luxurious, almost self-parodying gestures when athletes emphasize the follow-through or wind-up: the pleasure as you jog to your position of indulging in a small, droll mime of jogging: I’m doing this, and kind of kidding the act of doing this.

I associate it with my father, a noted local athlete, a great hitting catcher in baseball. He was a shameless expert at patter and chatter: in his forties, he came to see me pitching in a sandlot game. My team was losing. When the petulant catcher for our team quit on us, my father put on the equipment and with vocal force of personality (and hitting prowess) he turned the game around.

There’s a sense of ridiculous in the sports I like, and they have a ritual quality that I associate with men finding being a man, in certain ways, something to laugh about.”
Robert Pinsky, poet

Hangin’ with my homies.”
Austin Frank, middle school student

“Getting clipped at my barber up in East Harlem. Frankie—who is always giving me advice on how to visit Santo Domingo without going broke.”
Junot Díaz, author

“Watching Northwestern beat Iowa at football four of the last five years (three straight times in Iowa City), and then watching Iowa fans lose their shit each time and act like it’s some kind of HUGE SURPRISE. ‘Did we just lose TO NORTHWESTERN?’ they’ll wail, usually drunkenly. Yes, you did. Four of the last five years. Get used to it. We’re just better than you.”
Benoit Denizet-Lewis, editor of The Good Men Project Magazine and insufferable Northwestern sports fan

Continued on page 2

Pages: 1 2

About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.


  1. The wet shave, with a single-bladed safety razor and proper shaving soap, before work in the morning, immediately after the morning shower and before getting dressed.

    “Talking shop” with my old man, it drives the female members of the household around the bend.

    But the absolute favourite is putting “Gumtree Canoe” on the stereo when going off on a fishing trip with the old man, the pair of us singing along.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this.

    I come from a family that has more males then females in it. And whenever we get together, I love how my male cousins, brother, dad and uncles all razz each other on any number of subjects. From things that happened as we were kids (or when my uncles where kids) to just being the poor guy that was the last one to arrive late with his family. It’s an awesome thing to see. The heartfelt male bonding, the hearty laughs that inevitably follow and the playfull comebacks that get batted around throughout the day. My one Uncle use always go tell all the boys in the family to “go take a nap” in a kidding way. Even today as adults, the guys will banter with each other to “go take a nap”. Among some other fun catch phrases that stuck with our family.

  3. Funny. I was just thinking of writing an article about my “dude moment” every Sunday.

    It involves ripping down the hill from Santa Teresa on my bike and barreling out to Ipanema and back, as fast as I can go, listening to ’70s crap pop and ’80s punk rock on my MP3. No helmet.

    This really scares all the women in my life to no end, but it makes me feel terribly free.

  4. I must be a terrible person. I read on the toilet too. I don’t understand the big deal, I don’t use the paper/book “for anything else” and I wash my hands.

    These girls sound like they never got over kooties.

  5. the top first image is very funny i think that should be winner.

  6. I guess a guy thing I do and it bothers my wife is that I still tuck a paper napkin in my shirt collar during most meals. I am a good looking, athletic 32 year old guy and I am not a nerd. I grew up in a household where our strict military dad required us kids (4 boys) to protect our clothing during meal times by tucking a paper napkin around our necks. This was not optional and I guess I don’t trust myself eating spaghetti or other messy stuff without wearing a napkin bib. I don’t see what the big deal is. I would rather have any sauce or stains landing on the paper and not my shirt or my tie as I tend to buy expensive clothing.

  7. Mowing the grass and then drinking a beer when its done.

  8. I’d have to say that my fav. guy ritual is definately masturbation. No matter if you’re gay, str8, bi or anything in between, we all know that every dude does it and only dudes do it the way dudes do, so I feel a connection and bong with all other guys, knowing its what we all do, even if some of us don’t talk about it or want to admit it. And, what the hell, it’s a pretty fun thing to do…so go rub one out and enjoy yourself! Peace out, bros…

  9. I really enjoy the visceral , the sensual and the cerebral in equal measure. Riding my bike hard enough to crash but not hard enought to keep me off it. Fixing or building something with tools powerful enought to maim you. Spending a few sweaty naked hours with an enthusiastic and beloved woman. The smell of my children and the strength of their hugs. A David Lynch or Christopher Nolan film or a Neil Stephenson book. I also really love being doted on by women in very small ways by women who are not my wife making me a plate of dinner or making me a drink. Crying because I don’t have a father. It’s all part of being a man.

  10. You should check out Excellent reading material for trips to the can.

  11. During the Jewish high holidays, before the person playing the Shofar blows each note, the congregation calls out the name of the sound (it’s not a jazzy call-and-response; the requested sounds are in a specific sequence). Throughout the year, when I’m alone and let out a truly excellent burp, I honor it by calling out the name of a nearly corresponding Shofar sound.

  12. Mowing the lawn.
    And when it’s done, take a deep breath of air that smells of grass clippings, survey the results, mop my brow and enjoy a large glass of iced tea.

    Shaving, too. Hate beards.

  13. James Franco goes to the bathroom?

  14. As a female to male transsexual, I think about stuff like this all the time: I’m literally going through my teenage years as an adult (acne and squeaky voice at the age of 25!), and I have to figure out things more on my own than a biological male. I have two favorite rituals that come to mind.

    1. I love practicing my Maury-style ‘You’re Not the Father’ victory dance.
    2. Using the excuse ‘I’m gay’ to my female friends’ significant others to prevent them from getting jealous when my friends hang out with me. Though I’m not technically what they think of when they hear this, it’s not a lie, either. (I’m primarily attracted to men, with some exceptions, but I’m still not after my friends.)

  15. Shalom Y’all,

    Fixing anything.

    My grandfather could fix anything he could touch, even though his formal education stopped around the 8th grade.

    He and my father are amazing men.



  16. Picking my nose, farting, traveling to ghost towns, and arguing with the Ohio state fans who I casually meet on my cross country travels. The manly man IMO is dying in this country. More men are acting “limp writsted” because of shitty music trends, skilled trades dying and what media projects men as being nowdays. Don’t believe the hype. You’re a man. You need to know how to change a tire if the problem arises, or your wife or girl will think you’re a bitch. Your farts will always be louder and stinkier, your pits will always reek and your balls will always hang low. Embrace it.

  17. David Josiah Harris says:

    figuring out ways to climb up to the roofs of buildings and peeing off the top. with my buds…

  18. masturbate, trim my beard and read the Times on the tiolet on Sunday mornings. And for some reason, I like smelling my balls.

  19. Watching sports with a few cold beers. It could be either Cardinals baseball or Razorback football.

  20. Rob Villegas says:

    Many years ago, the early morning crew at my YMCA was a regular group of guys. After working out we would sit in the steam room and shoot the shit while shaving. It was a great way to start the day.

  21. i have a lot of rituals – pulling the al bundy as Dwayne mentions, farting whenever i want in the house (women are just jealous that they “can’t”), and going to the man cave in the basement to watch tv or play guitar

  22. DWayne M. Levine, M.A., founder and director of in Agoura Hills, California says:

    Scratching my balls at will.

  23. Marie Tillman, widow of Pat Tillman says:

    I would say for me, a sort of a guy ritual is college football.

  24. David Atchison, writer, producer, and journalist says:

    Manual labor stuff: yard work and home repair.

  25. Victoria Medgyesi, Author of “The Bad-Man Hype” says:

    I love it when a guy playfully tosses a little kid up in the air (Wheeeeee,”
    the guy almost always says) and then the kid squeals and laughs and says
    “more, daddy, more!” or “more, uncle john, more!”

    Usually the man/teenager calls it quits before the kid, and–almost
    always–the kid wraps his arms tight around the guy’s neck and snuggles in.

  26. Andrew Sugg
Executive Producer
FOX 25 Morning News says:

    Playing soccer with my buddies every spring and fall weekend in the over-40 league.

  27. Konstantin Selivanov, Russian KickBoxer says:

    I like work counters, especially if someone throws jab. I block it turning the opponent and counter with a low kick (roundhouse) to the front leg. Also I like to fake to make my opponent get a little off balance and then explode with a combination breaking his defense and overpowering him.


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