There are a few things that I have been quite good at most of my life. Not necessarily due to practice, but due to the exact opposite of that. Being pasty and on the verge of bio-luminescence when the lights go down due to my lack of exposure with the sun on a regular basis is one of those things I have excelled at most my life. It’s true I usually had to put on sunglasses just to take a shower. Ok not really, but I did think about it once or twice.
While growing up in rural Wyoming, which for the record is the only type of Wyoming there is, there were a number of peers of the farming persuasion who, much like the people of San Francisco, would be outside without their shirts on catching some rays at the first sign of any actually sunshine. It’s true. I spend a summer in San Francisco and the second the sun comes out, people start appearing all over outside. They are in swimming suits laying down on any open spot of grass they can find, catching some sunshine and working on their laptops. This usually lasts about 10 to 30 minutes tops and then as the sun ducks behind the local clouds everyone puts their cloths back on and go back inside to their desks. You do get use to this, but the first time you experience this phenomenon, it does give the first time viewer a “what the f…unny randomness just happened” moment of contemplation.
All that being said I’ve never been big of my inclusion of the “run around shirtless” genre of social activities. When the sun is involved my shirtless activity has almost always resulted in me becoming the same hue of a thirteen year old boy on his first date who has just accidentally farted loudly sitting next to his date while sneezing softly into a napkin. That is a very special kind of red that take years to recover from, and I believe requires you to never see that date ever again. The sun has a way of ensuring my skin remains that color for a pain filled week or two.
With that, let’s jump back a few years. In 7th grade, I did what your average 7th grade boy does when the opportunity arises. I tried out for sports. My father had been a basketball hero when he was a lad and at 13 there is a desired emulation that often happens where you think that if you should try doing what your father did then he was your age. The desired outcome consisted of him being proud of you and you being proud that he was proud. So I tried out for the team. It was open to anyone that wanted to give it a go, and a go I gave.
Tryouts consisted of played a few rounds of basketball while the coach watched you play. After watching you play for a total of maybe 10 minutes, the coach would tell you to get off the court so someone else could give trying out a go. At the end of the day, before you would rush to catch the bus home, you would check the roster to see if you had made the team. Yeah, I never made the team, but there were a few reasons for this.
Difficulty concentrating on the game. I think I would have been a little more clearheaded had I not been on the team required to be “skins.” Instead of giving us different colored tops we could put on over your shirts we would play shirts vs. skins, or shirtless, or half nude… awkwardly breezy comes to mind as well. Being on the skin team meant that I was you run up and down a basketball court half naked. The uncomfortable awkwardness came from knowing that the cute girls I fancied were in the bleachers watching all of the boys trying out for the team.
This translated to the cute girls looking at my goofy assed clumsy 13 year old body. I felt like a piece of meat on parade. But I wasn’t a piece of prime rib, or t-bone, or Alaskan Salmon, or even a marinated chicken breast. No, I felt like a slice of that prepackaged bologna with those weird different colored specks of gum drops, or whatever the hell those things were. Ok so it was sliced pickle and pimento loaf, but as a kid, it was gummy bear bologna and it was creepy. I mean sure, it was always fascinating to look at for about 10 seconds. Then it’s eeriness becomes too much and you leave it there in the cooler, scaring small children that wanted regular bologna and ended up grabbing the gummy bologna instead by accident.
This meant that I spent most of the 10 minutes trying to hide my half nakedness behind the other kids. This failed for a few reasons, but mainly because I was the tallest kid on the court and I was about the same color as the florescent lights in the ceiling.
I suppose the main and most obvious reason was that I just wasn’t any good at the game. I mean I wanted to be. But when it take four tries for you to make a basked while standing right next to it and you keep getting your own rebounds because you are taller than the others around you, it’s a little obvious where your skill level lies. I did enjoyed playing the game outside with my friends for the three months out of the year that it was warm enough to play basketball outside. Although this consisted mostly of playing HORSE or PIG, or other games that required us to be polite and take turns and not get in each other’s face. When it came to skill in the game, I was about as useful as mop at a sneezing competition… actually that would be quite useful. No, how about a mop IN a sneezing competition. Yeah, that analogy works much better.
There was something else that happened during those 10 minutes of play. It was the realization that I didn’t want to play basketball. There is something so incredibly dreary about the sportsmanship you experience on the court, field, ice, or whatever. There are some people that are amazing sportsmanshipy kinds of sportsmen. Win or lose they are about the game first and foremost. If they win, grand. If they don’t, at least it was a good game. My experience is that this is a rare breed of sportsmen, women… people. In my tiny experience in playing sports and watching sports, what I noticed about sportsmanship is that is that 9 times out of 10 there isn’t much, if any.
People turn into mean angry frumpy little bitches… and I was no different. I didn’t like getting angry at people for stealing the ball away from me, or for blocking my shot. Nor did I enjoy having people get angry at me when I did the same thing to them. I didn’t agree with the coach congratulating me with a “good foul” cheer when I’d do something to negatively affect another player. At 13 I saw sports responsible for causing more damage than good. So, I banned me from them. I think I tried again in 8th grade just to make sure. Turns out I was sure, and I haven’t looked back since.
I’ve have dabbled a bit here and there over the years. I played soccer for two summers and I played late night volley ball on tennis courts. I also became mildly competent at pool my first year in college and could endure a volley or two of ping pong with someone who actually played ping pong. I even got an A in my bowling class. If you do love sports, well done! I say go with it, enjoy it as much as you can as long and you can. I’ll even politely listen while you talk about it. Just know that I couldn’t care less. As for me, all in all I’m Zen sporting reject. I reject them and they reject me, and ever since we came to that understanding, we’ve gotten along just great.
What are your sporting stories?
Google Images, key words: pasty white guy, youth basketball, pickle and pimento loaf, and poor sportsmanship.