A standout in his shorts

(Mesh Man in his underwear, leading us in many directions, but with plenty of sexual content — not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

From the 12th: Mesh Man returns to the Daily Jocks underverse, flogging their fabulous Varsity Mesh Shorts, flaunting his famous receptive organ — he’s all man and a foot deep — kneeling with feeling in #1 and flashing a finger gun to his fans in #2:

(#1) Party shorts! (see the ad below) — I go down on one knee to go down on my guy

(#2) Always open for business® — and I got a gun cocked for you, too

I used to stand and watch him every day
He was always smooth and cool
I used to love to hear the people say
He’s a regular posing fool
But I’ve noticed in all the reports
When he took his bow
To the crowd and the town
The crowd went crazy
And the house came down
When Daddy wore his

(Hat tip to Billy Green, who had no idea what I was going to do with this.)

Alas, we have no photos of Mesh Man when he was still the laddish Butt Boy, always poised to take care of his bad boy buddies. But here he is back on 2/13, in the posting “Mesh Man: Always Open for Business®”:

(#3) In an especially satisfying sexual liaison, Iron Man’s semen transformed the superhero into Mesh Man, now known as one of the Underverse’s stellar receptives

Earier this month, MM briefly explored hs penetrative side in a ad for Helsinki Athletica, which I recorded in my 4/9 posting “Athletica Sport Dick, how I admire thee”:


Even in his Varsity moments, MM occasionally offers front as well as rear:

(#5) The Varsity Field Mesh jockstrap in white

The ad text:

VARSITY MESH RESTOCK! Our top seller of 2019 has been restocked, both sexy and preppy, Varsity prides itself on a great range of basics and statement pieces designed for every guy’s wardrobe. Jockstrap, Jock-Thong, Mesh Shorts, Mesh Singlet. All available now in Black & White.

… Mesh Shorts: Introducing the all new Varsity Mesh Collection!  These party shorts are made from a high quality Nylon mesh that is form-fitting to accentuate your curves. They are perfect to wear over the Varsity Field Underwear, or if you’re daring enough, nothing at all!

Where this will go now: to a personal note on MM’s body; to the source of the snatch of song above (“Very Soft Shoes” from the Broadway show Once Upon a Mattress), with notes on the formulaic expression dancing fool ‘fool for dancing’ and on Daddy/Boy relationships; to the squatting-kneeling postion or posture in #1 (with a wide range of uses, at least six, most (but not all) having to do with submission); and to the metaphorical chain “my finger is my gun is my cock”, as in the finger gun gesture in #2 (which leads to a Mexican standoff scene from US tv’s The Office and to Robert Mapplethorpe’s penis photography).

Got it? Hang on to your program, ’cause it’s time for the show.

A personal intro. I find the photos of MM, especially #2 and #4, moving and hypnotic; I keep coming back to gaze at them with great aching pleasure — because MM has the thin lean muscular body with long torso — the swimmer’s body — of my man Jacques, the male body I’ve been most familiar with in my life (even more than my own), in every detail, from the 26 years we were linked, so my ideal of a desirable male body. Essence of Jacques, with a version of J’s smile in #2, and even an updated edition of J’s 1970s hair in this classroom photo:


I love this photo because it conveys his physical presence in the context of the man passionately engaged in his calling. This earlier beach photo strips things down to his body, but still conveys a persona in his half-smile:


MM is not only an incarnation of this body type, but he also projects an amiable playful persona, so of course I’m crazy about his image.

The body type is well represented in the underverse, in men’s premium underwear ads –many in my earlier postings, though the genre tends towards bodybuilder types. And of course, in actual swimmers, like this one:


And in the occasional pornstar, like this one cropped from the Lucas Studio ad for the Fourth of July in 2017:


The Varsity Mesh Shorts song. This is an only slighty altered version of “Very Soft Shoes”, sung by the Jester in Once Upon a Mattress in loving memory of his father, who was a dancer. From Wikipedia:

(#10) Theatrical poster for the 1959 Broadway original, with Carol Burnett as Princess Winnifred, Jack Gilford as King Sextimus the Silent — and jazz and ballet dancer Matt Mattox as the Jester

Once Upon a Mattress is a musical comedy with music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer, and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Marshall Barer. It opened off-Broadway in May 1959, and then moved to Broadway. The play was written as an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Princess and the Pea.

… Initial reviews of the play were mixed, but critics and actors alike were surprised by the show’s enduring popularity. Once Upon a Mattress is a popular choice for high school drama programs and community theatre groups.

(#11) “Very Soft Shoes”, from the original 1959 Broadway cast recording

The song comes in two parts, the first establishing the context:

I am far from sentimental or romantic
And I like to think I’m strictly up to date
But at times the dancing gets a bit too frantic
In these hectic days of 1428
So indulge me as I pause to raise my chalice
To a quaint and charming dance they used to do
In the days when my dear father played the palace
Back in 1392
My dad was debonair and quite as light as air
In his
How he could dip and glide
And skip and slip and slide
In his

Then the main story (the part I’ve riffed on):

I used to stand and watch him every day
He was always smooth and cool
I used to love to hear the people say
He’s a regular dancing fool
He barely touched the ground
And never made a sound
But I’ve noticed in all his reviews
That when he took his bow to the crowd and the crown
The crowd went crazy and the house came down
When Daddy wore his

The boldface material is stuff I’ve altered: I removed one couplet completely; made other changes to take the song out of a court context where a man dances for an audience and move it to a context where he poses for an audience, eliciting pleasure in the desirability of his body; and further sexualized things by replacing the soft shoes by mesh shorts, thereby shifting Daddy towards a gay Daddy/Boy interpretation, rather than a literal father/son interpretation.

Daddy/Boy relationships come up on this blog regularly, especially around Fathers Day. See, for example, my 6/21/15 posting “My hard-on belongs to Daddy”, and note this explanation from the GameLink gay porn emporium:

Gay daddies are older men with big hard cocks. Older men with the authority to be the boss and the equipment to make you like it. (link)

MM is an instance of an apparently paradoxical variant, the Amiable Bottom Daddy, but the species is fairly well attested, in real life as well as in gay porn (in an earlier life, I played this role on occasion). Daddiness is a matter of who’s in charge, not (necessarily) who does the fucking — a psychological arrangement, not an anatomical one.

Then, in the midst of “Very Soft Shoes”, there’s what I took to be a formulaic expression dancing fool ‘fool for dancing, someone who is devoted to dancing’ (playing on two senses of fool), which I altered to posing fool.

As I say, I took dancing fool to be some kind of fixed expression; posing fool was interpretable to me, but it sounded to me like a novel, creative extension of a fixed pattern. And, indeed, when I took the expression to the American Dialect Society mailing list, Ben Zimmer searched up some notable examples of dancing / dancin’ fool:

“The Dancin’ Fool”, 1920 silent comedy film (link); “The Dancing Fool”, 1932 animated cartoon with Betty Boop (link); “Dancin’ Fool”, 1974 song by The Guess Who (link); “Dancin’ Fool”, 1979 song by Frank Zappa (link)

What I had not thought about was the role of the head noun fool in all of this. On ADS-L, Garson O’Toole summarized some results from the slang dictionaries: HDAS with:

fool n. a person who is excessively dedicated to a given activity. — usu. constr. with prec. ppl. [1875 in DAE: A Fool for Luck.] 1913-1915 Van Loan Taking the Count 176: He’s the fightin’est little fool ‘at ever pulled on a glove. . . . 1953 I Love Lucy (CBS-TV): I’m a dancing fool!

And GDoS with:

fool n. 3. anyone excessively enthusiastic about a given activity or topic; thus dancing fool, singing fool; often found as a fool for … 1887 [US]  in Overland Monthly (CA) July 66: That air that fiddlin’ fool, Pete Dobine.

Some of this is boiled down in NOAD‘s entry:

noun fool: [a] a person who acts unwisely or imprudently; a silly person: what a fool I was to do this. [b] historical a jester or clown, especially one retained in a noble household. [c] informal a person [AZ: excessively] devoted to a particular activity: he is a running fool. [d] archaic a person who is duped.

Sense b is highly salient in the Mattress context, since the character who sings “Very Soft Shoes” is a jester, that is, a fool-b. Meanwhile, the subject of the song is a fool-c, as I noted above.

In modern usage, fool-c seems to occur in two patterns:

PRP (compound) pattern: V-prp fool — dancing fool, singing fool, running fool above (a compound, but with afterstress  (a dancing FOOL) rather than the forestress of ordinary N + N compounds, like a DANCING lesson, DANCING shoes)

FOR (prepositional) pattern: a fool for N — which the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary takes to be an idiom:

— a fool for idiom — used to say that a person likes or loves something or someone. He’s a fool for candy. I’m a fool for you. [The N can of course be a gerundive nominal: a fool for dancing.]

Both patterns deserve further study. The compound pattern does seem to very strongly prefer gerundive nominals as first elements; things like He’s a candy FOOL ‘he’s excessively fond of candy’ would appear to be very rare. That’s an empirical question, but one hard to investigate, since text searches can’t pick out the expressions with both the right prosody and the right interpretations.

The prepositional pattern is a bit easier to investigate, though you have to winnow out other senses, as in He’s a fool for several reasons and He’s a fool for profit (meaning that he works as a fool to earn money). As a start, I looked at all the relevant fool for examples on this blog (before this posting). As it happens, the topic of excessive enthusiasm for something is likely to come up on this blog specifically in connection with affection and sex, as here:

Long-time readers of this blog will know that I am a fool for kisses (link)

originally a genuine country boy, clever and sweet, but largely unschooled, also a fool for mansex (link)

Often as he offered his dick for sucking, Locke was a fool for cock, an ubercocksucker who loved to take loads in his mouth (link)

Though there is one musical example (referring to shapenote songs):

I’m a fool for trumpets, and angels. (link)

And, in my files of material for future postings, at least one sexual example with a gerundive nominal:

[gay pornstar and landscape architect] Marcus Iron is a fool for sucking cock, especially at glory holes

But to return to my original concern: it’s now clear to me that the PRP pattern occurs with a considerable range of Vs, but still dancing fool seems to be a very frequent collocation, something more like a cliché than an actual idiom.

Squatting-kneeling in #1. On to postures / positions and their social meanings. The overarching observation is about kneeling of all sorts; from Wikipedia:

Socially, kneeling, similar to bowing, is associated with reverence, respect, submission and obeisance, particularly if one kneels before a person who is standing or sitting: the kneeling position renders a person defenseless and unable to flee. For this reason, in some religions, in particular by Christians and Muslims, kneeling is used as a position for prayer, as a position of submission to God

(Such a posture might of course be chosen for utilitarian reasons, having to do with its suitability for particular actions.)

What we see in #1 is one variant of a posture combining kneeling (with one leg) and squatting or crouching (with the other). A posture noted on this blog in my 4/21/19 posting “Let’s have a kiki … in me”:

(#12) Kiko in a squat/kneel — squeel, I’ll call it — position in a Barcode Berlin ad, differing from MM’s position on several dimensions [added 4/30: on some of these dimensions, see Note 1 in the comments]

Squeeling is the position for, at least:

(a) genuflection, as part of Christian religious practice

(b) kneeling in honor of a fallen comrade on the battlefield

(c) getting knighted

(d) “taking a/the knee” in protest of injustice

(e)  shooting a rifle, as one of the standard positions

(f) fellating a standing man, as an alternative to a two-knee kneel

[added 4/30: one further squeeling activity: (g) proposing marriage; see Note 2 in the comments]

Squeeling: genuflection. From Wikipedia:

Genuflection or genuflexion … [from early times] has been a gesture of deep respect for a superior. Today, the gesture is common in the Christian religious practices of the Anglican Church, Lutheran Church, Roman Catholic Church, and Western Rite Orthodox Church. The Latin word genuflectio, from which the English word is derived, originally meant kneeling rather than the rapid dropping to one knee and immediately rising that became customary in Western Europe in the Middle Ages. It is often referred to as “going down on one knee” [the caption for #1 exploits the ambiguity of going down] or “bowing the knee”.

Nice cartoon by Bill Abbott, showing an employee genuflecting before his employer in an office, with the boss saying,“Rise. Genuflecting was only required during internship.” (Using the cartoon requires a fee, so I’m describing it to you.)

Squeeling: honoring the fallen dead. On the website of the All Classics, Ltd. company, which supplies (among other things) custom bronze statues:

(#12) “Life-Size Kneeling Soldier Memorial Statue” (4 ft. tall) — on sale for $13,000

Squeeling: getting knighted. From an unidentified print-maker, this scene to stir the imperialist British heart:

(#13) Queen Elizabeth I knighting Sir Francis Drake on board the Golden Hind at Deptford in London on 4 April 1581; from Illustrations of English and Scottish History (1882) (Getty Images)

Squeeling: taking a knee in protest. Not so much a gesture of submission, but an unmistakable rejection of the gesture of standing for the playing of the national anthem before sports events.

(#14) Eric Greed and Colin Kaepernick of the NFL’s 49ers taking a knee in 2016 to call attention to systematic racism and injustice in the historical treatment of people of color in the US [added 4/30: see note 3 in the comments]

Squeeling: the kneeling position in rifelry. Entirely utilitarian, this one: the kneeling position steadies the arm holding the stock of the rifle. From the Peterson’s Hunting site:

(#15) One of the three basic positions: prone, kneeling, standing

Squeeling: giving a standing blow job. An alternative to two-knee kneeling when fellating a standing man. The standing blow job is usually understood as submissive for the cocksucker — it’s configured as a kind of worship — but it also has its utilitarian side, since the act requires no furniture and can easily be performed almost anywhere.

Usually, the cocksucker does a two-knee kneel, but the position is somewhat unsteady (a cocksucker will often steady themselves by holding onto their man’s hipbones) and can be tiring on the cocksucker’s thigh muscles. A squeel can alleviate both problems, as in this scene of automotive fellatio in the great outdoors (dick suppressed to satisfy the modesty of WordPress and social media):



So much for MM squeeling in #1.

I’m a desperate man … send fingers, guns, and penises! (with apologies to the late Warren Zevon). In #2, still displaying his muscular buttocks, MM is standing, and flashing the (raised) finger gun gesture, in which an index finger symbolizes the cock-and-gun gun complex, sometimes the gun, sometimes the cock; and sometimes the gun symbolizes the cock, but sometimes the cock symbolizes the gun. (I owe the idea of the complex to Robert Mapplethorpe’s 1982 photograph Cock and Gun — which I cannot of course show you here, though you can view it cordoned off in a carnal ghetto with the similarly themed Jack walls, #833 (also from 1982) in “The Mapplethorpe gun file” on AZBlogX.)

On the finger gun, from Wikipedia:

The finger gun is a hand gesture in which the subject uses their hand to mimic a handgun, raising their thumb above their fist to act as a hammer, and one finger extended perpendicular to it acting as a barrel. The middle finger can also act as the trigger finger or part of the barrel itself.

It is also sometimes used by placing the “gun” to the side of one’s own head in, in one’s mouth, or under the chin, as if committing suicide, to indicate a strong desire to be put out of one’s misery, either from boredom or exasperation, or to express one’s dislike for a situation. In addition, it can also be used as a way to say “hey” or “what’s up” to friends or acquaintances. It can be used as an insulting gesture, as to suggest your brain should be blown out of the back of your head.

(#18) Rowan Atkinson’s tv character Mr. Bean performing the upraised variant of the finger gun (as in #2), preparatory to lowering the weapon and firing it

Children, teenagers, and teacher’s assistants have occasionally been punished or removed from school for making the gesture. In some cases, this was because authority figures interpreted it as a signal for threatening real violence, while in others they interpreted it as unacceptably supportive of gun violence in general.

MM’s finger-gun performance in #2 can be seen as an offer to use his gun-cock on you, or as an appreciation of gun-cocks, modeling how you might use this one on him. Either way, he’s amiable.

Finger guns can easily be put to playful purposes. They can, for example, be used to create make-believe Mexican standoffs, as in this finger-gun “Standoff” scene from tv’s The Office (US):

(#19) S6 E10 (11/12/09), “Murder”

On the Mexican standoff, from Wikipedia:

A Mexican standoff is a confrontation in which no strategy exists that allows any party to achieve victory. As a result, all participants need to maintain the strategic tension, which remains unresolved until some outside event makes it possible to resolve it.

The term Mexican standoff was originally used in the context of using firearms and today still commonly implies a situation in which the parties face some form of threat from the other parties [OED3 (Dec. 2001) has its first cite from 1876]. The Mexican standoff is a recurring trope in cinema, in which several armed characters hold each other at gunpoint.

… A Mexican standoff where each party is pointing a gun at another is now considered a movie cliché, stemming from its frequent use as a plot device in cinema. A famous example of the trope is in Sergio Leone’s 1966 Western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, where the titular characters played by Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach face each other at gunpoint.

Mapplethorpe on the cock-gun complex. Mapplethorpe’s preoccupation with penises, especially erect ones, resulted in a huge assortment of photographs, some now quite famous. The two cock-gun photographs in my AZBlogX posting of yesterday (#2 and #3 there) are from the same 1982 shoot: #2 is a close-up, with the subject naked; #3 is a mid shot, with the same subject clothed, his erect penis protruding from his open fly. My comment there:

Symbolism, sure. But is the gun a symbol of a penis, or is the penis a symbol of a gun? (The dangerous dick. It can kill.)

The gun in both is a very small revolver (considerably smaller than the cock in the photos) of odd appearance (but then I’m an idiot about handguns):

(#20) The gun in Mapplethorpe’s cock-gun photos; I suspect it of being a toy gun

Also on AZBlogX is a Mapplethorpe cock-gun photo I can display here:

(#21) Patrice, N.Y.C. (1977): The penis as gun, but sheathed in its holster.

10 Responses to “A standout in his shorts”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    I wonder if there’s also a connection between phrases like “a fool for” and the idea of a fool as madman (folly from French folie, “madness”), especially given the more-or-less equivalent “mad for”.

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    Ben Yagoda on ADS-L, on “Dancin’ (and other kinds of) Fools” on 4/28:

    The phrase was current enough that Will Rogers (a veteran of vaudeville) was surely playing off it when he called his 1921 film “The Ropin’ Fool.” Incidentally, in showing rope tricks, it was one of the first movies to use slow motion, if not the first.
    You can see the complete 20-minute film on YouTube. I recommend it.


  3. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Peter Reitan on ADS-L on 4/26 about “Dancing Fool”:

    Newspapers.com has examples of a Vaudeville act in the 1900-1910s called the “Dancing Fools” and later called “The Girl and the Dancing Fool.”

    In 1920 there was a film called “The Dancing Fool.”

    And in 1922 there was a hit song called “Dancing Fool” (A song
    called “Hot Lips” was out at the same time).

    Then on 4/28 he provided a YouTube link to “Dancing Fool – Fox Trot” by the (Ted Snyder) Broadway Dance Orchestra, a 7/11/1922 instrumental on the Edison label:

  4. arnold zwicky Says:

    The main text of this posting notes the distinction between forestressed V-prp N compounds (like DANCING lesson and DANCING shoes) and afterstressed compounds of the form V-prp fool with the meaning ‘fool for V-prp’ (dancing FOOL). But we also need to distinguish this dancing FOOL from afterstressed nominals of the form V-prp N with the meaning ‘N that Vs’ (like singing COWBOY); this is important because dancing FOOL is in fact ambiguous between the sense of interest in this posting and the sense ‘fool that/who dances’ (with NOAD‘s sense a or b of fool, rather than sense c (conveying (excessive) devotion to some activity).

  5. arnold zwicky Says:

    Peter Reitan now takes us back to a July 1917 Variety, announcing Tom Patricola and Ruby Myer in “The Girl and the Dancing Fool”:


  6. arnold zwicky Says:

    Note 1, on #12: the dimensions of difference include at least: angle of the body from the hips (vertical, leaning forward, leaning back); degree to which the legs are open (fully open in a V, partially open, parallel); and, for each foot, its stance on the ground (flat vs. raised, with the foot supported on its ball).

  7. arnold zwicky Says:

    Note 2, on the uses of the squeeling position: add (g) position for proposing marriage. Lady Bracknell, observing Jack proposing to Gwendolen: “Rise, sir, from this semi-recumbent posture!”

  8. arnold zwicky Says:

    Note 3, on #14: note that Greed is down on his left knee, Kaepernick on his right, so that they look like bookends. The difference might (or might not) have to do with handedness. For the record: I go down on my right knee (the left just feels wrong); I am ambidextrous, but right-dominant for many things).

  9. arnold zwicky Says:

    More dancing fool uses (in ADS-L on 4/29) that give rise to the question of which of three patterns / constructions was intended; to complicate things further, titles are sometimes chosen to deliberately convey ambiguities.

    From Victor Steinbok, about:

    a more recent “V-ing fool” use. One of the “alternative” shaving equipment companies had a radio ad over the past 3 years that included the phrase “Men are exfoliating fools”. The first time I heard it, it made me wonder if this was the “dancing fool” sense or the regular one. The spot has tapered off this year so I’m not likely to find the specific citation. But I also want to put in a word for analyzing the language of radio advertising. Sometimes it makes you think well beyond the marketer’s intent.

    I know very few straight guys who are (excessively) fond of exfoliating their faces, so my guess is that the intention was to convey that (in general) men are idiots about exfoliation; they don’t know about it and they don’t care about it.

    Then from Andy Bach, with a more specific usage,

    a modern-er version with a modified “dancing” – the Uptones have a song “Skanking Fool” (or “Skankin’ Fool”) – skanking being a Ska-related dance: “Nobody bounces back like a skankin’ fool”:

    These to be added to Ben Zimmer’s examples in the text above, and to those from Ben Yagoda (the 2nd comment) and Peter Reitan (the 3rd and 5th comments).

  10. arnold zwicky Says:

    Another note on ADS-L, from Wilson Gray, whose understanding is that dancing fool as in “Very Soft Shoes” conveys not so much interest in some activity (here, dancing) as excellence at that activity.

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