MEN GROW UP TO BE BOYSBy Allan C. StoverMen are boys until you bury 'em. . . . Rowena, in the movie Decoration Day.Men take a long time to grow up. When they finally do, life gets infinitely more complicated and a lot less fun . . . . Uncle Sammy (mumbled to Tanya Tata in Hummer's Topless Bar).Men Grow Up to Be Boys is a novel of both comedy and tragedy in the life of Roger Murphy, who just may grow up and find out what is important in life. Imagine Holden Caulfield's tragicomic life in Catcher in the Rye spread across a messy childhood, messier teens, and even messier adulthood. Add scheming Sammy Glick as his best friend and an untamed shrew as his first love and wife. End it with a slim--a very slim--chance at happiness, success, and true love with an angel. Roger Murphy begins life with everything against him. His parents divorce when he is a child. His embittered mother accuses his father of molesting him, which makes his life a living hell when everyone in the neighborhood finds out about it. His mother never admits to anyone that she'd made up the molestation story after prodding from her divorce lawyer. Roger pleads with her to tell his friends' parents that nothing had happened, but she refuses. "I want everyone to know how rotten he is," she told him. "I'm glad everyone thinks that bastard is a monster.""Mom, it's making things so hard for me," he pleads. "No one can play with me without getting into trouble. Please tell them nothing happened. Please."She doesn't listen. She looks out the window and smiles. "Do you know he can't come into the neighborhood? The men here would beat him to a pulp. That's why he has to meet you in the park. Serves the bastard right." She told everyone she'd dropped the charges only to spare Roger the trauma of testifying. She even begins to believe her story. It would all complicate Roger's life for a long, long time. Roger's best friend, Bob, might dominate him, but Roger has no one else who cares. His secret love, Madge, loves Bob and acts as though Roger doesn't even exist on this planet. From there, Roger's life goes downhill over a lot of rough road.The book gets funny even when life gets serious. In Chapter 1, Bob, Madge, and Roger play "show me yours and I'll show you mine." When it's Bob's turn, he says, "I've seen yours, so why show mine?" and runs from the park. In Chapter 3, Bob and Roger play the Urinal Game to extort money from students. They drop a dime into the urinal then hide. When they hear water run, they know the student is washing off the dime because boys never wash their hands after they pee.
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December 15, 2004
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