The other day, my girlfriend swung by my place unannounced. She walked in, plopped on the couch, asked after my children, then began a brief assessment of my current state of being.
“What ya listening to?” she asked.
“Um, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam–I was in a grunge sort of mood,” I answered. I had just loaded up my CD player.
She nodded appreciatively, then cocked her head. “You sure you know what year it is, Chief?”
I just stared at her.
“Fine. So, whatcha wearing?”
I glanced down at my Eddie Bauer slacks and fleece pull over. “Just stuff. Why?”
“Un-hun.” She didn’t seem impressed. “And you’re drinking Starbucks, naturally.”
“Naturally,” I confirmed.
“I gotta tell ya, it’s a little too Seattle for me.”
“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding!” I started to laugh. I lifted up my fleece to reveal a navy and orange tee I’d just picked up at Target the day before. The head of a Bronco with flaming mane embossed the front.
“Oh, much better!” she smiled.
“All that just to confirm this?” I asked, pointing to my shirt.
“Okay, okay,” she relented. “I just wanted to see if you’re coming over for the Super Bowl, or not.”
It’s everywhere, this hype and hoopla. It’s the Rocky Mountain Routine. I have a friend adding up his annual leave to determine if he can work half day on Friday just to drive Denver Bronco Boulevard and sign the sidewalk in spirit chalk.
“Oh for the love of Pete!” I said when he told me his plans.
“They have three for ten t-shirts!”
“Never mind that,” said another co-worker. “Get your clingy-thingy.”
Wait, my what?
Ask a stupid question…a quick search on-line revealed special United in Orange-Bronco Mania-Time to Ride window decals. They are available, free, from KUSA, Denver news station, at a retailer near you! Pinterest is pinging me with dip recipes, Facebook is loaded with taunts and challenges, and commercial vendors are sponsoring Superbowl related tweets ad nauseum. My phone runneth over.
And for what? For fun, I guess. For something to look forward to, for something to crow about. For a reason to jump up and down and cheer and get really excited. Speaking of that, our local police department has already issued a warning that over exuberant celebrators will not be appreciated.
Like most people, I love the thrill of competition. I try to keep it under my hat–or my pull-over fleece–but once in a while, it escapes me. And I mean that literally and figuratively. Literally, my own excitement bubbles to the top and I start planning appetizers, finding parties, and buying beer. Or, I get inspired and start running or biking again.
But figuratively, the philosopher side of me ponders the psychology and the deep-seated need we all seem to have, to crave. We want our champions. We build up our heroes. Why? Why in this day and age do we still need the motif myth of the Greek (or Roman!) god (or goddess!)? What gives? After all, if we’re going to chase after Platonic forms, I’d think they should be somewhat beneficial.
All my life I have shunned the purchase of jerseys, particularly the jersey with some famed athlete’s name across the back. That I flat out refuse. I have my own name, dang it. I’m not so willing to sport free advertising on my own person. And what’s with the autographed “thing from the guy in the place?” I know, sometimes stuff like that is worth a lot of money. Then again, why do signatures become a thing of value? I know people with basements full of that kind of merchandise. Do we really want Someone Else’s accomplishments crowding out our own identity in our homes?
Empirically, I do get it. I do understand that hullabaloo builds business, creates opportunities and frees us up for a good time. The ritual of “something to celebrate” is a mainstay in human culture. But “mania” also implies a lot of lacking discretion. Individuals might be smart or savvy; mobs and crowds are not. Yet here we go, again. The frenzy unfolds, forthwith.
We’re flinging ourselves into the debauchery of sports mania, tossing common sense to the wind, whooping it up, and hoping for a win. That kind of crazy is just…contagious. Damn it.
Count me in.
I’ve got to get back out there. It’s just one of those things. But weekend after weekend, I find myself curled up in my leather chair with a cup o’ tea, a book, or my laptop.
Back in the day my coach would say, “Visualize it and you can do it.” Oh, I visualize it: There’s me swooping down a slope at A-Basin being chased on my snowboard by my oldest son who, I might add, I have slowly been teaching to ride. There I am again slogging through mud on my mountain bike. Nice. Oh, and look at me zipping around the rink on my skates as I actually put a biscuit in the basket. Okay, maybe I’m pushing it a little on that last one, but still–I can see it.
I’m just not out there doing it. My snowboard desperately needs a tune and my boots are so old I get boot bang something fierce whenever we go up–which is less than often. My bike is attached to the kiddo tag-along and they both have flat tires. I had bought a pump for the bikes and all the soccer balls while I was coaching little kid 101, but the balls, the bag, and the pump have disappeared into the black hole my husband insists is the winterized garage. I don’t even want to get into the details of my hockey bag. All the clothes could use a wash (but smell like roses, really). Plus, have you ever put on hockey stuff after it’s been outside? It’s flipping cold.
In college, a friend of mine switched from cycling to running because he preferred the simplicity of relying just on himself. “I don’t want to be dependent on a machine,” he said. “It’s just one more thing to break down.” He wanted to eliminate that which would hold him back.
Yes. Exactly. All this gear, this look, this style–all this hoopla just takes time away from the pursuit of sport. It’s the wanna-bees who buy the right shoes and the Under Armour and the name brand and the top of the line.
On the track team we used to say you knew who the real stars were because they looked like hell. The girl with the stained and faded t-shirts and the ratty shoes? She was the one gutting out the miles, doing the drills. And it showed. “Earn your look!” we’d yell and head out on “adventure runs” through the California hills, rag-tag and feeling fabulous.
Other times, I’d ride my bike to where the trail ended, sling it over my back and hoof it up some slope too rocky to navigate from behind handlebars. Bike hiking. I got grease everywhere and tore the crap out of my shirts. It was awesome.
But see, that was easy. Then, I’d just throw on torn clothes and go. Now, I’ve got nice stuff and it needs to be maintained. I can’t go until things get tuned. And some of these sport fleeces I’m still not sure how to wash properly.
Owning gear equals time-suck. Look at my husband: it takes him at least 45 minutes to get into his hockey gear every single game. It takes another hour or more to get out of it–wait, that might have to do with beer. But, regardless, who’s got that kind of time?