by Cassondra Murray
No, this is not about politics. In fact, I’m trying desperately to escape that.
It is about something much stranger. The mind of a writer.
Have y’all seen that movie, How to Lose A Guy In Ten Days? It’s a great chick flick. Humor, drama, Matthew McConaughey (I’m not a big fan, but he ain’t hard to look at.) and Kate Hudson, a cute, smart girl who—and this is SO rare these days-- gets the guy without benefit of surgical enhancement.
For you who have NOT seen it, the movie opens with Kate as Andie Anderson, serious journalist who wants to write about world peace, forced to write fluff for Composure Magazine, a materialistic rag for women. Andie is in the office with her friend.
Friend: “Andie, there’s an envelope here for you.” (waves mysterious white envelope in Andie’s face) “You know that editor at Sports Illustrated—the one you’ve been shamelessly flirting with?” (Andie gasps and snatches at the envelope) “Looks like it paid off.” (Friend hands over envelope and Andie tears it open like a mad woman.)
Andie: (dances in a circle) “Wooooohoooooooo, I just got tickets. In. The. Tenth. Row!”
Friend: “For what?”
Andie: “Only THE most awesome display of athletic grace on the planet!”
Friend: “The Ice Capades are in town?”
Andie: (dances madly in a circle, waving tickets) “No, the NBA FINALS ARE IN TOWN!!!!!”
Andie has just received a coveted pair of Nicks tickets—for the first game of the finals.
I am a girl. I freely admit this.
I can put on the goo and fluff when I need to, and I like pretty clothes. I even did the pageant circuit when I was young, hot and in shape. I like sparkly stuff, candles, bubble bath and good wine.
But I’m kind of an odd girl. I like the outdoors. I like shooting and archery. I like canoeing, rock climbing and rappelling. I don’t hunt but I can field dress a deer.
I own a big chainsaw. When I took the ASVAB to get into the military and scored high enough to do anything I wanted, my first choice was some job where I’d get to blow stuff up. (No lie. That’s what I asked for—“got anything where I can blow stuff up?”) I can mix mortar and I can build things. I can plumb a house properly. I like to fish. On my do-before-I-die list is “Learn to operate a bulldozer and a track hoe.”
I don’t get it.
At my local Mexican restaurant, when they have football on the tube (not AMERICAN football—it's soccer) I actually enjoy it. But let’s face it. Some of those Central American sweaty hunks are dang HOT.
The fact that I like looking at hot men in great physical condition is NOT the same as appreciating the sport. There’s a country song I hear now and then called “I’m A Lucky Man” and one line goes… “Last Sunday when the Bengels lost, Lord it put me in a bad mood…..” This has never happened to me.
Because I studied photojournalism as an undergrad I had to shoot every sport available in the northern hemisphere. I liked soccer best. And yet I’ve never gotten interested enough to follow it. Something is apparantly wrong with me.
I. Don’t. Get. It. It’s a ball made of leather and filled with air. Where it ends up is irrelevant in the larger scheme of things. I just don’t care. I would guess some of you feel the same.
But there’s trouble, you see. Big Trouble that’s not going away.
This trouble started about mid-October. We get season tickets to the symphony orchestra. If you’ve never been to a symphony concert you haven’t lived. You can FEEL the music. It’s powerful. I leave on a slightly different dimension than the one on which I arrived. A higher dimension.
Sixty to Seventy people—each of whom is one of the best performers on the planet, and has spent nearly his or her entire life devoted to the intensive study of an instrument—all up there just for me, working together to bring something static to life—to make it breathe and soar—for those few minutes in time to act as one and create something that will never happen exactly like that, ever again anywhere any time. And I GET TO SEE IT! To feel it. To be forever changed by it.
So I was sitting at the symphony the other night and a distressing thought occurred to me. A horrible thought. A thought that could cause a shift in my entire system of values.
In my weird writer’s mind, the understanding of the gift happening in front of me smashed headlong into that first scene in the movie with Kate Hudson and the footage they showed of the Nicks games and I had an Oh Sh*t moment.
That professional ball team—that’s a group of individuals, each of whom has devoted his or her entire life to his sport—though his instrument is his physical body and the way it handles a ball, and his skill is, among other things, brilliant teamwork—to perfecting its use and the performance, just as a dancer would—and they’re all together at that game, working like crazy to make something happen—in a clash against another group, perhaps as talented as THEY are, and this clash of wills, of physical prowess, of skill, of talent, of PASSION even—gets played out in front of me and I get to see it. To perhaps be elevated by it. To even, perchance, be CHANGED by it?
But I don’t. Cuz I never watch. Cuz I don’t care.
But maybe I should? Maybe now I MUST!
There are vast numbers of people who care. They gather around tvs and in arenas and behind coffee tables loaded with snacks and beer and put incredible amounts of energy into caring.
Why? There must be a reason.
And if I decide to care (and I believe I might be on the verge of caring whether I want to or not) how do I learn about this? The rules of any given sport are like quicksand. It’s a quagmire of complex “if this then that, but if THAT, then this other thing…” ..and they change from little league to high school to college to pro. The athletic conferences alone are confusing.
It’s like firearms and weapons calibers.
Why is a certain caliber called what it is? For example, the rifle caliber .45-70 gov’t (you say this as Forty-five, seventy, government) Why is it called that? It’s a .45 caliber round with 70 grains of black powder. (A grain is a measurement of weight).
Are you zoning out yet, the way I do with sports regulations? No?
Try this one. .30-06. (Pronounced thirty-ought-six). Thirty caliber with six grains of black powder? NO! Thirty caliber, invented in 1906. Let’s consider the .380 (Three-eighty). It’s actually a 9mm short. The cartridge is 9mm in diameter. But a pistol chambered for .380 will not shoot 9mm ammunition. A 9mm MIGHT shoot .380, or it might not. HA!
The .38 Special (Thirty Eight Special) is actually .357 inches in diameter. Is it a three fifty seven? NO! They’re different. And is a .38 Special a “Saturday Night Special?” NO! It could be, but it’s not necessarily.
NOW are you confused?
Heck, even I’m confused, and I know about guns.
So back to sports. A foul in football is not the same as a foul in basketball, is definitely not the same as a foul in baseball. I think a foul in football isn’t even called a foul. A penalty maybe? I know sometimes they throw some flag on the ground, but that’s not the same as flag football, right? And then they stand around for like half an hour deciding what to do then they play for thirty more seconds then stand around again.
In basketball, you have only so long to shoot, right? Well, not necessarily as far as I can tell. There’s something about a shot clock. And depending on the league you’re allowed to touch the net or not, and the shot line is in a different spot. I’m reeling here.
Then there’s the goal line in football. I went to cheer my friend’s senior running back (why are they called that? Nobody can explain this to me. Everybody runs, after all. Half back—I see nothing missing on this man. Why is he called a half back?) on for his final game. They were behind, then after half time they took off like crazy. I started cheering. OH, NO! How was I supposed to know that at half time THEY SWITCHED GOALS!????? I was cheering for the wrong team!
Knowing men the way I know men, and their general aversion to touching each other in any kind of affectionate way that does not puncture a lung or knock loose a kidney, what’s up with that bottom patting on the football field? As far as I can tell the ball is not in play when the bottom patting is going on. Does the “no touching” rule for manly men get thrown out if you’re in a football uniform? Does it have something to do with the tight ends?
Now that I’ve gotten sorta interested, or at least seen the potential value in being interested, how am I supposed to figure out what is going on?
I know that some Banditas are sports fans. Jeanne ( La Duchesse) actually flies to Chicago to watch the Cubs play. And not just cuz she lives with sports fans. SHE LIKES IT! Anna Sugden is a hockey fanatic. Even at writing events, her phone pings her with hockey scores. Donna, Jeanne, Posh and Nancy have been, at one point or another, involved in rivalry based on Buckeyes, Lions and some other strange stuffed creation from North Carolina.
I’m in an awful state. My very way of being is in flux. My core life values are teetering on the edge of...perhaps not collapse, but at minimum, significant deflation.
Do I just pick a team and start to care? How do I choose?
Is it possible to catch up and actually understand? Am I doomed to be eternally confused, cheering even though the team is running the wrong way?
Do you care about sports?
Which ones and why?
How did you start? Do you have to be “born into it?”
What is your favorite team?
Do you have a favorite sports hunk or hunkette?
If you had to pick a sport to learn about, what would it be?
Third base in baseball has nothing to do with third base in romance and is CERTAINLY not related to a three-pointer, but they are ALL related to SCORING. And getting to any one of the above seems really complicated.
Third base in romance is the only one I actually understand.
Help a Bandita out. Throw me a line here!
Oh, and how the blazes do those soccer/football players keep their socks up?