"What? Who are you?"
"You know who we are."
"Uhh...no, I'm afraid I don't, and I am not going anywhere with you."
The four muscular men in dark suits and aviator sunglasses looked at each other, sighed in unison, and shook their heads.
The man who had spoken to me paused a few seconds and replied, "We really would prefer not to discuss this in public, sir, as it could prove quite embarrassing to you."
I repeated my denial and began to edge past them. The leader gently but firmly placed his hand around my upper arm and said, "Mr. North of 50, we are with the Emergency Response Unit of The MAN Institute, and you really do need to come with us."
I stopped dead in my tracks. The MAN Institute! After years and years of whispered rumors and partially-overheard conversations, apparently it was true! I was not exactly certain just what The MAN Institute was, but I had a feeling it would not be good for me to refuse.
The four men (in my mind I dubbed them Agents 1-4) led me to a black SUV with requisite tinted windows, opened the sliding door and ushered me inside. I found myself sitting in a chair facing a computer screen with my picture on it.
"What is this all about?" I inquired nervously.
Agent 1 clicked the mouse and began to speak: "Mr. North of 50, you have been detained by the Emergency Response Unit of The MAN Institute because you are in possession of a faulty, possibly broken MAN gene."
"Please, sir, just listen and watch the monitor."
"Wait, before you go any further, please...what exactly is The MAN Institute?"
At a nod from the other three, Agent 1 then proceeded to tell me.
"There are agents in place at every hospital, trusted men, mostly doctors, who have made it their mission to improve and ensure the survival of the male human species. Shortly after birth every male child is implanted with a secret monitoring chip that records and tracks everything he says and does, and transmits this information on a weekly basis to our array of powerful Cray Supercomputers. All information is analyzed and anomalies are marked and monitored."
"What do you mean, 'anomalies'?"
Seeming to ignore my question, he explained further: "For nearly the first 16 years of your life you were a perfect candidate for the ultimate classification, Unmonitored Adulthood, wherein you are deemed to be a Perfect Male, and eligible to join the ranks of those fully initiated into the TMI Brotherhood, and help us fulfill our mission. The first chink in your armor occurred in the spring of 1971. You volunteered to usher and hand out programs at your sophomore class musical 'Hello, Dolly'."
"This was not as egregious an offense as actually singing and dancing in the musical, fortunately, but you managed to compound your error by purchasing the soundtrack to the movie, and repeatedly playing it to the extent that you memorized the words to all the songs. These actions appeared to be an isolated case, one that could be passed off as a youthful indiscretion, until you began to listen to Barry Manilow songs a few years later. Our notes indicate that you have purchased three Barry Manilow cds, and have added both his songs and the "Hello, Dolly" soundtrack to your ipod."
"But it is good music that you can sing along to!"
"Moving along, we placed you on Special Monitoring Status for a period of time, and it seemed you were going to go to Halfway House Status, in which you would still be monitored, but on a less stringent basis. You did, by the way, receive full credit for marrying a very attractive woman and siring three children, one of them male, but the most recent developments brought you to the attention of the ERU."
"What is so bad about Barry Manilow? Anyway, I love country music, too, and you can't get more manly than that! Why don't I get credit for that!"
"Partial credit, sir. As I mentioned, it all came to a head last night and prompted this Intervention."
"Last night? What happened last night?"
"Sir, we know that you had previously added five ABBA songs to your ipod, but last night, while you were working on your computer, you spent an entire hour listening to videos of their songs, not just the ones you know, but also songs of theirs that you had not known about before, and marked them down to add to your collection. Further, you know the names of the group members as well, something you never knew before."
"Sir, the evidence is overwhelming and damning. Do you not see how ridiculous it is for you to sing along in English to a song by four Swedes about a failed Spanish revolutionary? And then to play that song again in Spanish? You even know the words to "Memory", for goodness sake!
It is obvious that one of your MAN genes is damaged and needs to be repaired before it is too late, and becomes impossible to fix. If left unchecked, you could slide way down the scale and become, I shudder to even think of it, a ...Metrosexual."
I hung my head in shame, and whispered, "I'll go quietly with you, Agent."