Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bonus #2: The Bro Code

I'm quite sure Barney Stinson didn't actually write The Bro Code. For one, any time a book's authorship is attributed to someone with someone else -- in this case, "Barney Stinson with Matt Kuhn" -- generally the name following the "with" did the actual writing for the ostensibly overly busy and self-absorbed person whose name comes first.

Also, Barney Stinson isn't a real person. Or I suppose that depends on how one defines "real." As a regular character on the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, Barney (played to ironic perfection by Neil Patrick Harris) has one thing on his mind. OK, two. The second is laser tag. The first, though, is sex. With women. (I make this distinction only because Harris is openly gay. Sometimes I think this fact alone makes the process of watching him portray a womanizing bachelor whose sexual exploits number in the three digits at least twice as funny.)

Anyway, because the business of female-catching is a complex one, a set of rules was deemed necessary. By whom, you ask? Well, by the geniuses in the marketing department of CBS, obviously. Fortunately, The Bro Code -- which the author modestly describes as a "compendium of knowledge" -- lives up to its billing. The code itself resembles the Ten Commandments in form, but in fact contains one hundred and fifty articles and ten amendments. These amendments, despite recalling Founding Fathers and their ilk, bear no resemblance whatsoever to that Bill of Rights; the only quartering of soldiers allowed in The Bro Code would likely involve a booty call and an entirely ill-fitting Army uniform.

Fortunately, Barney allows his readers some breathing room before delving straight into the code itself. In the introduction, he lays the foundation for his profound ruminations: "It is my hope that, with a better understanding of the Bro Code, Bros the world over can put aside their differences and strengthen the bonds of brotherhood. It is then, and only then, that we might work together as one to accomplish perhaps the most important challenge society faces -- getting laid." Next is "What is a Bro?" This section consists of a brief Q&A (Q: "What is a Bro? A: "A Bro is a person who would give you the shirt off his back when he doesn't want to wear it anymore..."); apparently three questions was the limit. The other two were "Who is your Bro?" (who is my neighbor, anyone?) and "Can only dudes be Bros?" (The answers: many people, and no.) Finally, the "Brocabulary" and "Origin" ("lacking an agreed-upon set of social principles, Cain killed Abel and committed history's first Broicide") round out the opening salvo in a tour de force of masculinity.

The articles themselves are quite straightforward. From Article 1, "Bros before ho's," to Article 150, "No sex with your Bro's ex," Barney Stinson (with Matt Kuhn) means business. Article 47: "A Bro never wears pink. Not even in Europe." Article 96: "Bros shall go camping once a year, or at least attempt to start a fire." Article 118: "When a Bro is with his Bros, he is not a vegetarian." These and many others make it clear that being a man is clearly not sufficient (nor even necessary) to being a Bro. Membership in the club of Bros requires a special kind of commitment (no, not that kind of commitment), a healthy dosage of machismo, and a general aversion to expressions of feeling that don't involve a new HD TV or high-end sports car. But don't let these traits fool you. Altruism is still at the core of The Bro Code. Case in point: Article 80, which states, "A Bro shall make every effort to aid another Bro in riding the tricycle, short of completing the tricycle himself." Then again, I don't think he's referring to the childhood pedaling device.