Friday, October 28, 2011

My relay isn't jammed, it never existed.

I am, and have always been, a reasonably decent athlete. I've played almost every sport an average guy could play. I know how rules work.

This may come as a surprise to many, especially since I am not into any sport. And doubly as a surprise to students at either high school attended since I pulled the nifty feat of getting two football teams half a nation apart both want my head on a pike in front of the school.* But I grew up in the '70s and '80s and collected baseball cards and played football and did everything I could do to fit in because that's what a guy growing up in the '70s and '80s did. I wet to the library to watch video tapes on monstrous old video tape players rehashing both the NFL's greatest moments and hilarious bloopers. I attended baseball games and waited outside the park to get players' autographs, back in the day when you could still get a players' autograph by waiting by the exit. I played motherfucking lacrosse (though this was the one sport I encountered I had no natural acumen for).

So you can't blame me for not trying to like sports.

Honestly I wish I did. I feel incredibly left out since sports is the connective thread that allows so many folks to socialize using a common language that's driven by passion. I can talk the talk but it's obvious within a few seconds that I absolutely don't care and I become ostracized. When I'm in a bar and a room grows electric with tension just before an amazing play I feel that electricity, but it's kind of as if I'm holding a live wire within a heavily insulated glove. The buzz is not immediate and doesn't penetrate into me like it does everything else.

But last night, through a conduit, I got a taste of what you all must experience. GalPal offered me a window to see into the interior world of a true sports fan, and the only reason I could even make sense of it is because I love her and what makes her happy makes me happy, and what makes her sad makes me sad, and what she wants I want for her. And she wants the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series. And last night the team gave such an amazing performance at the last second it sort of blew open my own fuse box long enough for me to feel an iota of what GalPal was feeling. And it was pretty amazing.

So I get why you all like sports. I still can't rationalize it, and it will never have the effect on me that it does on 99.99% of the population and, admittedly, I'm a little sad about that since it seems like such an easy and immediate rush that' available to so many people day after day. I'll try and hold onto and remember this experience in a real way, and by writing it down I hope it will trigger that memory in the future, but the electricity is already dimming and what I thought was so crystalline last night ha already faded into a blur. And I'm even more certain that I just wasn't wired to get into sports. And I feel a little cheated by that. Even more so now.

*Freshman year, in Maryland, I don't even remember what set it off but I spent the good portion of the semester running from the football team to avoid getting the crap beat out of me. It's hazy but it might have been one of those Dazed And Confused situations where, had i just let them catch me at the outset, I would've passed the hazing phase and been accepted. But at the time I just didn't want to get my head stuck in a toilet. Also, I was the weirdest kid in school so I have a hard time believing the hazing would've ended. The second instance, when I was a senior in Illinois, was triggered by what I thought was a satirical take on football but was received as if I had burned a flag while beating a baby seal to death. The day the paper came out classes literally began with teachers talking about how fucking evil I was. To this day I don't totally get it but in hindsight I realized the editorial staff of the paper knew exactly what was going to happen and were willing to put my neck on the line to get students "talkin' about the school paper!"

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