Testosterone Poisoning

A friend, when describing the affliction whose symptoms are characterized by machismo, also known as extreme masculine hyper-sensitivity, uses the sobriquet “testosterone poisoning.” I think the term describes the infirmity quite nicely. Until I heard the phrase, I did not fully comprehend what causes some men (primarily) to attempt to flaunt their masculinity in ways that make them appear stupid, narcissistic, ego-driven fools. Now I understand. They suffer from testosterone poisoning.

Several days ago, I went to the pharmacy and the grocery store early in the morning to pick up some things we could not get (or I forgot to buy) when making our most recent online order: paper towels, deeply-discounted lightly-salted peanuts (a staple), deodorant, shaving cream, blackberries (on sale), two kinds of potatoes, hummus, fresh thyme, and maybe another item or two. I noticed when entering both places that many people were not wearing face masks (as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control to help stem the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus, now pandemic). Most of the naked-faced creatures were male, though some females flashed toothy smiles or growls.

I am convinced those whose faces were exposed (and whose every breath might have distributed a light, virus-laden aerosol) probably were experiencing symptoms of testosterone poisoning. The men, who would feel embarrassed wearing a mask for fear of looking weak and unmanly, seemed to sport a facial expression reminiscent of the cowboy on old Marlboro commercial. That expression, translated into English, says:

“I am the strong, silent type, a man’s man, the kind of man who could wrestle a bear to the ground, hog-tie her, and snatch her cubs from the jaws of a ravenous wolf.”

Those were the guys in the stores. Deeply insecure, thanks to their innate inadequacies.

The women, on the other hand, never grew out of their tomboy phases. They, too, had a certain facial expression that said, it seemed to me:

“Hey, what are you looking at? You want a piece of me? You think just because I’m a girl I can’t kick your ass? C’mon, give it your best shot, snowflake!”

Needless to say, all of them would look perfectly comfortable in red MAGA caps. In a just world, their shirts would have been embroidered with text (which they, unfortunately, cannot read due to their illiteracy, which they view as a badge of honor) that says:

“I am stupid and proud of it!”

Yes, I’m suggesting testosterone poisoning either stunts intellectual growth or causes intellectual decline or both. Testosterone poisoning triggers dangerous behaviors that can lead to accidental self-inflicted gunshot wounds (also known as testosterone-induced lead poisoning), high-speed automobile accidents, falls from high places where no one should ever go, and a number of other engagements that can result in injury or death.

I’ve had a few brushes with testosterone poisoning myself and still suffer from an occasional flare-up. The best treatment for the malady is immersion in large-scale derision. Ridicule, which initially tends to exacerbate the symptoms, ultimate seems to cause genuine self-reflection. The treatment works, though, only on individuals whose measured or estimated IQ is greater than 70.


I can be nasty, scornful, and mocking. I shouldn’t be, but occasionally it’s great fun. Of course, I have to acknowledge that I can’t legitimately complain when I am the object of such derision. Turnabout is fair play, they say. Whoever “they” are.


Today, I have multiple appointments and obligations. First, I go to see a nurse about an unnerving symptom that developed yesterday: blood in my urine. Several times during the day, when I peed, the stream appeared to have emerged from a severed artery. As the day wore on, a pain developed in the lowest part of my lower gut. This concerned me, as one might imagine, so I called to see if I could get an appointment. I was able to get in this morning at 8:15. As circumstances would have it, the multiple occurrences of spurting blood stopped late in the afternoon and have not returned. I’m still going in, just in case. TMI, perhaps, but that’s just the way I roll.

Once I’m finished, I’m off to Little Rock, again (after medical visits there yesterday for my wife), this time for maintenance on the car. Depending on whether I need new tires (I think I do), I will get a loaner and will wander LR until the work is done. Perhaps I’ll stop by Colonial Liquors. Perhaps I’ll have lunch at the truck parked in the liquor store’s lot. Perhaps I’ll brave Trader Joe’s. Only time will tell.

Now, it’s off to shower, shave, get dressed, and face the day.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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