Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sports tawk

I don't write about sports here because, frankly, I think there's way too much sports talk as it is. A couple months ago Richard Ford wrote in the New York Times about how the sports media is killing sports and I couldn't have agreed with him more (even after my horrible experience with Independence Day). When did what used to be a short pre-game show get stretched out into a two hour snoozefest featuring former football players stuffed into designer suits (followed by another post-game snoozefest making the amount of snooze and actual sports practically equivalent)? Does anyone find this endless blather interesting or are people just happy that some politician isn't on talking about Iraq? I definitely think there's a correlation. Ever listen to sports radio? All it takes is about 15 minutes of Mike and the Mad Dog to realize that being "a fan" (or a "sports analyst," for that matter) is quickly becoming some new form of mental illness (I'm not a psychiatrist, but there's also something about Mike Francesa's fluttering hands that I find quite disturbing). As a man, it's embarrassing to hear other grown men going on endlessly about the most trivial minutia of a sporting event as if it was the most important thing in the world. Listen, I like sports. It's a fun distraction. But once a game is over can we just let it be over? Am I the only one who senses an underlying desperation to this never ending chitchat (to paraphrase Thoreau: Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with a game still on the TV)? I realize men need sports so that they can talk to each other (why talk to each other about something meaningful when you can talk to each other about something trivial, right?). And I'm certainly grateful for it (if I didn't have sports to talk about with my father, I don't know if we would have much else to say to each other). So, guys, can we just dial it down a notch with the behind-the-scenes sports gossip crap? It's making us look like idiots. How about we talk about a big game up until the next big game and then forget about it completely? That's essentially what I do. This is how I put sports in its proper perspective. And to people like Bob Costas who works so hard to romanticize sports into some great shared memory, I say, try building memories as an active participant in your own life rather than as a passive spectator at a sporting event.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Christmas Story

While The Rambler was uptown somewhere having an Augustinian debate with himself whether to fuck or not to fuck, I was downtown getting thrown up on by a drunken co-worker in the stairwell to the Christopher Street PATH station. I did not foresee this as the conclusion to an otherwise pleasant holiday party thrown by my department at work. I did foresee this co-worker getting drunk because he's gotten ridiculously drunk just about every time I've ever had drinks with him. Next to my friend The Human Y0-Yo (currently in the middle of her second week in rehab, Praise Jesus!), this guy has got to be the worst drinker I've ever encountered. To look at him you would never think this: he's an imposing 6' 1", 260 pound black man. But I've seen him get tipsy on two drinks. Which isn't always so terrible because he can be kind of funny when he's in this state as he was last night for the duration of the party thrown at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. It wasn't until we proceeded to The White Horse for the after party that things began to deteriorate. He was no longer the jovial drunk. He was becoming the inanimate drunk (I had only seen him achieve this level of drunkenness once before when he passed out on the floor of another co-worker's apartment during a party). To make matters worse, his boss was also becoming sloppy drunk. This did not go unnoticed by the waiters serving our group. When my co-worker's supervisor began bumping into people (sending an order of onion rings flying when she collided with our waitress), the waitress made it clear to us that these two had to go. So, me and another co-worker volunteered to try to get my friend back to Hoboken. In retrospect, this was an insane endeavor. The guy could barely walk while being supported by me and the other volunteer. It was amazing that we were even able to get him as far as the PATH station (I think I'm experiencing a bit of whiplash today from his heavy arm pulling down on my neck as we staggered down Hudson Street in some sort of bizarre approximation of the three-legged race). When we reached the PATH station, our drunken friend had had enough. He sat down on the third step into the station and would not be moved (very easy considering his size). Now the other volunteer and I realized we had a real dilemma on our hands. It was then that phase two of this insane endeavor was devised: the other volunteer would return to Hoboken via the PATH to pick up his car and then return to pick us up and drive back to Hoboken. Sober, I now realize I got the short end of the stick in this deal (especially when the puking commenced shortly after the other volunteer departed). So, there I stood, one lone drunk (I had consumed several beers myself), standing sentinel over his fallen, even drunker comrade. Not only did I have to fend off the offended stares of the PATH riders (both of our jackets were now speckled with vomit), but soon we were attracting the attention of the transvestites and gay black men who hang out in front of the gay bar right next to the station entrance. This, of course, made for some interesting banter, but most of it is lost to me today. I do remember one of them losing a twenty dollar bill into the wind tunnel created at the station entrance and then blaming my poor friend for having caused this to happen (later, a commuter found this twenty dollar bill further down the stairway and asked me if I had lost it. Of course I said "Yes," and accepted the twenty dollars as payment for my services). What seemed like hours passed. Then the police showed up (if I was a writer from The Wire, I would have wrote, "Then a police showed up"--more Wire bashing after I finish Season 4, stay tuned). I told the police the details to the insane plan we had enacted, but they seemed skeptical to say the least. They said we had to move him out of the stairway and somehow we managed to do this. We propped him up against the building next to the entrance and the police even managed to get my friend to respond to some of their questions. They said I could wait there a little longer, but if we were still there when they came back, that they would have to call an ambulance. At this point, to keep my spirits up, I began a game of "Keep the Drunk on his Feet against the Wall." I was pretty good at it for a while, but with one sudden lunge to the left, my friend overpowered me and toppled in a heap to the sidewalk (this got quite a reaction from the gay dudes, as it should since it's not every day that you get to see such a large man go down like the proverbial ton of bricks) . Thankfully, he didn't hit his head and since he seemed more comfortable in this semi-prone position, I let him be. It wasn't long before I had a new dilemma on my hands: I had to piss. I enlisted my new gay and transvestite friends to watch over him while I ran into the gay bar to relieve myself. Was this a wise move? Probably not. But I had no other recourse at the time. Anyway, nothing seemed to be amiss when I got back. My friend was now snoring quite audibly. I decided then that I had waited long enough for the return of the other volunteer (I learned today that he did make it back to Christopher Street, but that it had taken him a very long time--well, at least he didn't just blow me off as I was beginning to suspect). I used the emergency phone to call an ambulance. I figured my friend would be much more comfortable sleeping it off in a bed in a hospital instead of balled up on the sidewalk. An ambulance arrived and with the help of a police (damn you, The Wire!) and the attendants we got him up and in it. On our way to St. Vincent's, I tried to fill the ambulance attendant in on what had happened since my friend was being unresponsive again. At the hospital, we did a little more drunken tango dancing with my friend while moving him into a wheelchair and then a bed. After calling the phone number that the police had extracted from my friend during his brief lucid moment (I was trying to contact his wife--I suspect the number I called was his cell phone, not his home phone), I felt like I had done all that I could do and that it was time to wrap this nightmare up. But, it wasn't over! Now I realized I no longer had the black bag I carry back and forth to work. When it wasn't discovered in the back of the ambulance, I began to think (not very clearly) that I may have left it behind on Christopher St. when I was loading my friend into the ambulance. Maybe my new friends would be holding it for me. Frantically, I hailed a cab and returned to the scene of the crime (no luck). Disgusted with myself, I decided to just go home. It wasn't until I got home that I remembered that I had put my friend's digital camera in my bag for safekeeping at the hospital, so chances were that I had become detached from it somewhere inside the hospital. I called the hospital and, sure enough, they had it! I picked it up this morning, ending one of the longest nights of my life.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

3 Women

A drunk Indian woman from Trinidad, who may also have been mentally-challenged (it was hard to tell considering the advanced stage of her intoxication), fell in love with me in my uncle's bar on Saturday night. She told me that I looked "sad" and "worried" and that she wanted me to buy her another drink. I told her that she probably had enough and that it would be better if she just went home and slept it off. She wanted a hug before leaving and I obliged, but as I returned to my beer she pounced from behind and slobbered me with two wet kisses, one on each cheek, to the general amusement of all the bar regulars.

A little later, waiting for the PATH train into Manhattan, I noticed an attractive young woman on the platform. We boarded the same passenger car at opposite ends, but looking for a seat, she found one directly in front of where I was standing. "Did she do that on purpose?" I thought (of course, as you may have already guessed, I was slightly intoxicated by this time). As the train proceeded into the city, I found my eyes returning to gaze upon this woman (I was too drunk to dip into the copy of Conrad's The Secret Agent that I had brought along). I couldn't help myself. After a bit of this surreptitious staring, I noticed something odd. Occasionally the young woman would cover her mouth with her hand, but from the angle where I was standing I could see that what she was really doing was sneakily sucking her thumb. As a former thumb sucker myself, I was not only taken aback by the fact that she was still sucking her thumb into her late twenties/early thirties, but that she would do this in such an openly public place (I would never have had such nerve back in my thumb sucking days). Now I was fixated. I couldn't turn my eyes away. And none of this seemed to have any effect on the young woman. I might as well have been invisible. Before I got off of the train, I felt like I had to say something to her. Leaning in to speak as the train pulled into my stop, I said without thinking, "Just remember that you're beautiful." I guess I caught her off guard because her thumb was still in her mouth as I departed the train.

Later, at the Marah concert I went into the city to see, Xmastime introduced me to two young women I had given a ride to some seven years ago or so for a previous show at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park. One of the women seemed much more beautiful than I had remembered. In fact, she was quite stunning. Imagine my utter deflation when the first thing she said to me was, "You've gotten fat and old." Ah, now that's more like it!

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