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Dear Norman: Shenanigans vs. Rough-Housing

0 Comments 21 July 2015

Dear Norm,

I recently had my ears boxed by an old pal. It was the first time for me and, boy, did it hurt! Now, I’m a fun-loving guy. I like to ‘mix it up’ with my pals. But, to me, this seemed to cross the line and THAT got me thinking. What’s the difference between potentially dangerous rough-housing and good-natured shenanigans?

Bruised and not at all amused in Amherst


Dear Bruised,

The answer to your question can be summed up in one word – intent. But since I’ve already written 20 words (including contractions) allow me to go on.

It’s not always the case, but typically when shenanigans include hand-to-hand contact it’s mostly open fists. Obvious exceptions to this rule (to name a few) include a simple bop on the head and, of course, a rib rub. Some people would argue a noogie, but I wouldn’t. Noogies are no joke and should be handled as such.

Conversely, hand-to-hand contact when rough-housing almost always includes closed fists. And most definitely includes a sneer when one thinks no one is watching. Again, a base layer of malevolence is evident.

If you find yourself questioning if something is either rough-housing or shenanigans chances are it’s rough-housing.

Not at all worried about your safety,


- who has written 512 posts on The Shade.

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