Life With Manboobs
12:57 PM EDT on October 19, 2023
Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday at Defector during the NFL season. Got something you wanna contribute? Email the Roo. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, through here.
I’m standing in front of a mirror. My shirt is off. I’m staring at my reflection as it stares at me. I look myself over. I’m 47 years old, and it shows. My temples are graying. My eyebrows often grow into my line of vision. My ears have stray hairs that curl and twist like old wire. My skin is growing wrinkled, like the surface of a disturbed lake. There’s a faint crease just below my chin that suggests a wattle—or Botox—is in my near future. My waist, stubbornly, remains wider than my chest. My love handles, equally stubborn, spill out over my waistband.
This is the body I’ve always had. I’ve loved this body. Hated it. Cared for it. Neglected it. Caressed it. Harmed it. Shaped it. Fed it. It’s the body that I’ll always have. It has aged, which I was mentally but not emotionally prepared for. The wrinkles. The spots. The surgery scar on my lower back that sits in a valley of its own creation, like someone inside my body is tugging it in. But in other ways, it still resembles the body of my youth. For better and also, oddly, for worse.
Which brings me to my tits.
When I was 12 years old, I had my own bedroom with a four-poster bed. It was in this bed that I learned about my body in all the ways a pubescent boy does. I touched myself. Not just down there, but everywhere. You grow so fast in middle school that your own body surprises you. I tugged at freshly sprouted arm hair. I felt my tween biceps and quads, wondering if maybe I was getting pumped. I dug into my ample flesh to poke around my hipbones. I played around with my nipples, because they were so easy to reach.
Nipples are curious things. All human embryos grow nipples in the womb before their sex chromosomes are defined, which means that men have nipples even if they appear vestigial, which they very much do to the 12-year-old eye. But while human males can’t use their nipples to nurse a baby—at least, not without a great deal of effort—the organs are not entirely functionless. Nipples have nerve bundles that aid in sexual stimulation, and they’re fun to mess around with. I liked watching mine get cold and bumpy. I liked folding my areola in on itself, like it was a tiny blinking eye. I liked flicking them. They’re nipples. They’re inherently funny.
But I was an overweight youth, which means that my nipples were also pronounced. So much so that, one night when I was in bed and feeling all around, I felt a fleshy mound underneath one, about the size of a silver dollar pancake. I felt around the other side of my chest and found another. I had already developed stretch marks on both sides of my waist, and here now appeared to be another visible souvenir of being a fat kid.
Are those boobs? I thought to myself. I jabbed at the new tissue and moved it around under my skin, like I would a kneecap. I couldn’t have boobs. I already hated myself for being overweight. The stretch marks and the boobs would make that obesity permanent. Everyone would see my boobs. I would hide them. I’d face my locker in the locker room. If I played a shirts vs. skins pickup game, I’d make certain I was playing on shirts. If a girl ever had sex with me, I guess I’d have to leave my shirt on for that, too. Maybe I can have them removed, I thought hopefully. Maybe they’re just cancer.
I grew up and lost weight, thinking that might get rid of my tits. It didn’t. I gained the weight back, and then lost it again. The tits stayed all the way through. I’m looking at them right now. They add two faint curves to my silhouette. This is why I quietly freak out whenever I put on a shirt that’s too tight. It’s also why I laughed a little too hard at that one Seinfeld episode where Jerry Stiller needs a bra, or at Meat Loaf’s “bitch tits” in Fight Club, or at combine photos of a shirtless Andre Smith. Yes I had manboobs, but those guys had real funbags. So I was good. I am good, I suppose.
And yet, I can’t say I enjoy seeing these things in my reflection. The irony is that, according to the NIH, an estimated majority of men have "palpable breast tissue." And one out of 833 men will develop breast cancer, the most famous survivor of which is Richard Roundtree, the original Shaft. We are all Frank Costanza in need of a Manssiere, and that only grows more evident as we age. What’s the first thing you notice when you see an old man shirtless? That’s right: his old, hairy, wrinkly titties.
That’s what I’m looking at right now. I’m in good shape for my age. I bike every day. I count calories. I keep a healthy weight. I not only eat my vegetables, but enjoy them. You’d never mistake me for Chris Christie. But I still get targeted ads for bras whenever I play phone Yahtzee, and I know the guy I see in the mirror. I know these boobs. I’ve had them my whole life now. Maybe I’ll finally get used to them down the line, but somehow I doubt it. No matter how old you get, loving yourself is easier said than done.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Dolphins at Eagles: Every year, the NFL blames player injuries on a new, external culprit. This year it’s the hip drop tackle, which the league claims is 25 times more injurious than other tackles. If you’re not familiar with what this tackle looks like, here’s a loose compilation I found with a cursory Youtube search:
I’d like to argue that these tackles should remain legal, because they’re super fucking cool. Look at all those on-field suplexes and tell me that you don’t wanna go out there and fire a machine gun. The league acts like if they ban this tackle or that one, they can make the game safer. You and I both know that’s bullshit. They only want to make football look safer, which is why the hip drop is poised to be outlawed, along with the tush push, this coming offseason. So not only will I be deprived of all these kick-ass tackles, but I’ll also be treated to a 5,000th round of “This isn’t football anymore!” takes from both fans and defenders. Who’s REALLY getting injured here? Me, that’s who.
Lions at Ravens: While I’m on the subject of aging, I finally pulled one of the signature old-man moves the other day. I had my reading glasses on to look at my phone while a game was on the TV. Something happened during the game that I wanted to see, so instead of taking off my reading glasses to look up, I perched them on the tip of my nose so that I could peer over them. Right when I did it, I was like Oh my god, I’m a teacher at Hogwarts now. I immediately took the glasses all the way off to preserve what scant amount of youth I still had left.
Also, having a pair of glasses rest on the tip of your nose is deeply uncomfortable. I don’t know how you old fogies do it.
Chargers at Chiefs
Jaguars at Saints: This is tonight’s game, so take those three ‘gasms with a grain of salt. I’ll be watching this game while on corporate retreat with the rest of the Defector staff. I made everyone chili last night, and they housed the entire pot save for one last serving on the bottom. We have no Tupperware in this cabin, so I was forced to store the remaining chili in a paper cup, which now sits in our cabin fridge. Have a look:
A true bachelor fridge. We play “would you eat” over in the Funbag pretty much every week, and now you get to play. Would YOU eat the chili cup if you didn’t know its provenance?
Steelers at Rams
Falcons at Bucs
Bills at Patriots: Last week I was doubtful that another team would be willing to hire a 71-year-old Bill Belichick fresh off his absolute worst season. But David Tepper is still an owner, now isn’t he? I need to stop being so naïve.
Browns at Colts: The Browns’ defense is so good that it almost hides the fact that the Deshaun Watson trade is growing more and more lopsided by the day. Watson has played nine games for the Browns, and has averaged over two full yards less per attempt through those nine games than he did in his final season in Houston. And now he’s sidelined with the kind of nagging shoulder injury that seems destined to hamper him until the offseason. Maybe Watson can’t find a decent freelance massage therapist to work out the kinks. Or maybe—just maybe—he sucks now and the Browns got themselves a lemon. Karma is rarely dished out properly in this league; it’s fitting that Cleveland would be the team that helps even the scales.
Commanders at Giants
Cardinals at Seahawks
49ers at Vikings: You know that analytics have won because Monday Night Football now has an ESPN Analytics graphic that pops up on critical downs, and neither Joe Buck nor Troy Aikman complain about it.
By the way, I am already at the stage of my team’s season where I watch college games mostly to scout out all of the QB prospects. I’m liking that J.J. McCarthy more than I ought to.
Packers at Broncos
Raiders at Bears
Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Wenceslas,” by Gnome! Straight outta Belgium! From Byron:
It's pretty much all riffs without many lyrics. But the riffs, they're good. Plus the singer/guitarist looks like Barry. The hats do it for me too for some reason. Something about guys slaying stoner rock riffs in stupid outfits is good to me.
Hey wait, I like the lyrics, too!
I can't believe my eyes
They're trying to exterminate my kind
Even in our final hour
This fucking king is still trying to hide
I see the anger when I look into their eyes
The king's betrayal doesn't come as a surprise
Another chance at life comes at the highest price
If I can stay alive today, I'll kill 'em all and scream we are alive!
Look at me
Set us free
What more do I require out of a rock song than this, I ask you? And yes, the riffs are mean.
Eric Adams’s Lock Of The Week: Jaguars (+2) over Saints
“Now I’ve lived in Jacksonville my whole life, and lemme tell you: The climate doesn’t change down here. Maybe it changes where you live, but here it’s nothing but sunny days ahead! GET THAT HOT DOG CART OFF OF MY STREET.”
2023 Record: 4-2
Fire This Asshole!
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we’ll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year’s end or sooner. And now, your potential 2023 chopping block:
(*potential midseason firing)
I don’t actually think that Mike Vrabel will be fired this offseason, but I do have to point out this detail that longtime Titans beat reporter Paul Kuharsky tossed out there after the team’s desultory loss to Jacksonville in London a week ago:
A couple of long signs running atop a string of lockers read: “Our Edge: Effort, Finish, Details, Technique, Fundamentals.”
Are you telling me that you couldn’t even make your corny slogan into an acronym, Mike Vrabel? EFDTF? What’s that even stand for? Every Friday we are Down To Fuck? Get better slogans. And stop drafting terrible quarterbacks.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Ed sends in this story I call STAND AND DELIVER (A POOP):
My wife and I are teachers, and we started a school year with her pregnant. The due date was in December. With twins on the way, my wife insisted we preserve as many sick and personal days as possible, to prolong how much time we had together at home with the newborns.
One Monday morning, I woke up queasy and mentioned my distress, but my wife pressured me to go: Think of the children! I drove to work, managing my stomach but figuring she was right, the coffee and toast would eventually sop up everything and ease the discomfort. I parked, gathered my stuff, and was halfway to the building when I felt a fart lodged in my colon. This was the relief I was searching for! I paused, gave a little push, and instead of gas, sprayed shit all over my boxers. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't be the teacher that crapped his pants, that would be professional suicide. Retreating to the car seemed like a dead giveaway to anyone else that I had pooped myself, so I headed to the single bathroom to clean up. Inside I faced a few dilemmas: where do I discard my underwear? How do I get a sub on short notice? Will my wife let me take a day off?
I called her up, got permission to come home, wrapped my underwear in toilet paper and stuffed it in my bag, so the next user wouldn't find them in the trash, then walked gingerly to the office. I mumbled something to our clerk about getting sick on the way in, spun on my heels and headed home as students streamed in.
When my wife and I are arguing and I need some leverage, I can always pull out the 'remember when you made me poop my pants at work?' card to get a little sympathy.
As well you should.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Top Budget! I know that sounds like an oxymoron, because it is one. BUT WHO GIVES A SHIT LET’S DRINK UP! From Jake:
From Cotonou Benin (where I live), here is your next Gametime Cheap Beer of the Week: Top Budget Bière.
Despite looking like a prop from a low-budget French sitcom, I assure you this beer is very real, and very terrible. I wasn't expecting greatness when I saw it at the Lebanese-run grocery store here (80 cents for a half liter; we get all the French castoffs). How could I when it has a freaking shopping cart on the label? But what I got was so, so much worse than I imagined. Tastes like the French post-war imperial legacy: sadness, disappointment and regret. I didn't finish the can.
Didn’t finish it? Sir, you lack gumption.
Gameday Movie Of The Week For Panthers Fans
The Seven-Ups, which can be seen in its entirety above. I love any dirty '70s crime movie: Serpico, The Hit, The French Connection, etc. So when Bluesky user Habeas Porpoise told me to watch this nasty little fucker, I didn’t hesitate.
For the record, The Seven-Ups is NOT about the soda. It’s about Roy Scheider—who alongside John Cazale is the patron saint of quality '70s cinema—heading a secret group of NYPD officers who get mixed up in a kidnapping scheme involving New York’s biggest crime families. You’ve seen this story 5,000 times, but never with a car chase this good. I mean it. It’s the best goddamn car chase ever. Three and a half stars.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“Guys, I'm not very political. I usually think people who vote are a bit "fruity,” but for some reason this Birch Barlow really speaks to me!”
Enjoy the games, everyone.