This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
Who among us has not carefully orchestrated a house party during the exact hours our parents were due to be out, only for them to return home early to find a hole burned through their patio furniture and a crust punk sitting on the roof? Who among us has not downloaded a complex virus to the family computer while watching porn, vehemently denied it, and then sat innocuously in front their dad—who's turning increasingly purple—as a tech guy reels off a very specific list of recently visited addresses to him over the phone? Who among us has not had their mom walk in on them having sex, asking to borrow their copy of Pirates of the Caribbean?
I'm not saying any of those things happened to me, but if they did, they would have happened when I was a teenager living under the thumbs of my parents, who really, desperately, just wanted me to grow up so they could go to the pub. Nothing similar has happened, so far, in adulthood. And yet, it is the same dynamic we see before us here, in this video of a man preparing to grind on a dancer before getting slapped down by his wife:
We recognize this, don't we? Fear, excitement, fear again, and then an unidentified emotion somewhere between shame and the concept of "legend." We understand it deeply, for it has, one way or another, happened to us all many, many times. This is pubescent disobedience in action, a specific cycle of transgression and punishment that only happens to under-16s and resignedly married men who refer to their wives exclusively as "the Mrs."
In short: it is a subordinate getting a lashing, which is the highest order of comedy next to pointing at things and saying "you," or someone dropping a pint glass. In the grand lineage of wives disciplining their husbands, this is one of the greatest and most pure examples. It is the super-boss of the genre—just one level short of its final form.
I can't explain from whence or where this video came because British baby boomers have looked the same since the 80s, so realistically this could have happened on a cruise ship on Tuesday or in 1998. I don’t even know if they’re British, to be honest with you, but I’m going to assume they are because look at their jeans:
The only thing I can say with certainty is that the husband is full of joy and the wife has glittery eyeshadow on, which must mean they are on vacation. Some further points of inquiry, though:
What is he doing?
Not, like, in a general sense. I wouldn’t ask that question of anybody. Do you know what you’re doing? Because I fucking don’t. What I mean is: his body. What is he doing with his body? He's plodding forward, left foot right foot, like he’s trying to balance a beach ball between his knees, but at the same time, bobbing up and down and getting progressively lower? He is also, regrettably, thrusting, which I think he could pull off if he was also doing a "come on" motion with his arms, but he seems uncertain about the situation. "Do you… can you touch the—no, I guess not." So instead, he lets his arms dangle down by his sides, flapping back and forth like two pant legs in the wind. This is a form of dad dancing that I have never seen before. It’s like watching a slowly deflating bouncy castle learn how to walk. You know how middle-aged British people find sex really amusing because they're half-scared of it, and that’s why they all like watching Mrs. Brown's Boys and making crass jokes about their boobs on Come Dine with Me? This is the dancing version of that.
What was he thinking?
This woman, the wife, is quite terrifying. I have great respect for it. Like many before her, she carries herself with the fortitude of someone who has cursed out more than one bouncer for asking her to finish her drunk because the pub is closing. The fact that she merely smacks him repeatedly with the full force of her entire palm, like he's a near-empty ketchup bottle, is actually an act of kindness. She clearly could have strangled him in seconds.
All things considered, would you really go in for a public striptease at a function you are attending with your wife—just assuming you can get away with a quick thrust or two while she’s gone to the bathroom? Come on, pal. You know better than that. Remember all of those times you joked to your friends about how you "can’t fart in the shower without her knowing about it," but also fearfully meant it? She knows your every move. She is inside your head—familiar with your hopes, dreams, and thoughts about what you like to eat for lunch more intimately than you could ever know. She figured out that you lied about having meat for lunch so you'd be allowed to have it again for dinner from the smell of a fart. The temerity of you, to think you could pull this one off. Which leads me to:
How Horny is this man?
On the scale of general horniness, most of us operate somewhere around "mildly" at all times. Occasionally, an irresponsible photo of Cate Blanchett in a power suit will elevate us to "moderately," and "severely" is reserved for very long dry patches or that video of Antoni from Queer Eye speaking French. What we are seeing here, I think, is a "moderately" of the teenage boy variety. It is stumbling upon an episode of Sex and the City on TV and getting aroused by an unexpected boob. It is seeing a photoshoot of Cheryl Cole in The Mirror and going "phwoar." It's not out of control horny, but allowing yourself to be drawn magnetically into the orbit of a dancer just because she's wearing a bra and some sort of sexy chicken pants is garden variety stuff, I'm afraid. A classic schoolboy error.
What happened beforehand?
Equally, nobody gets this angry without a laundry list of grievances already weighing upon their last nerve. If dad rage is defined by yelling obscenities at a piece of technology that has wronged him, mom rage is defined by stalking around the house actively looking for things that are different to when she left the house, delivering a 14-minute lecture detailing exactly why it was wrong of your dad to use the dishwasher to wash the frying pan, and filing it away in a brain folder full of domestic micro-frustrations and forgotten anniversaries. What I'm saying is: This man is a man, and therefore a nightmare to live with. I'd wager he had it coming.
What is the other guy doing?
There is a man dressed in "wedding casual" hovering near Man #1 and the dancer, whose relationship to the situation I do not understand. He is doing a strange, snaky sort of dance of his own, which suggests the two of them approached the dance floor together—but do they know each other? Are they friends? They’re not dressed like they’re from the same party of people, but he does make an effort to intervene when he spots Man #1’s wife hurtling through the crowd to hit him. For a while, though, he just stands there pushing his hair back and… observing. What's that about?
What about the part where she grabs him like he's a bag or garbage in need of being taken out?
Nothing much to add here. I just think it’s a nice touch.
What am I doing? Am I seriously going to have to follow a Twitter account called @Cockjokes now because it has provided me with the most joy I've felt in weeks? Is this who I am? Is this what the hellfire political climate and stressful lack of nuance online has reduced me to? Hacks to the left of me, memelords to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle, pissing myself over a viral video of a man in a cross-body bag getting smacked by his wife on a Twitter account that otherwise mostly posts disparaging dad jokes about feminism.
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