Monthly Archives: September 2011

Why I Can’t Play Sports For Fun

This past weekend a good friend of mine, we’ll call her Ethel, asked me if I wanted to be a stand-in on a flag football team that plays in Baltimore. I didn’t know anyone on the team but enthusiastically accepted the invite, as I had absolutely nothing better to do. Plus, Ethel brings the laughs like no one else, which I desperately need during my dark, unemployed times.

Ethel and I are natural competitors and as such began brainstorming game strategies that would play to our strengths and subsequently make us look awesome in front of people we hoped would become our new friends (Ethel only knew a couple of team members also). A few options were thrown out, but one stuck. We were going to use the speed and agility that we had loosely (read: barely) maintained since our college lacrosse days to blast past everyone and score a shit ton of touchdowns. Anyone foolish enough to try and stop us would get his or her obtrusive skull busted.

I couldn’t help but see myself carrying out the game plan. What I saw was an abundantly sweaty, asthmatic ogre who was violently stiff-arming opponents down the field as everyone watched in uncomfortable horror. It then dawned on me that this might not be the best way to meet a group of strangers for the first time.


Like I said, Ethel and I are former lacrosse players who played at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We spent four years alongside 40 other girls doing hang cleans and tire flips so that we could prepare ourselves in the event that we had to crush any and all similarly thick-legged opponents. We didn’t play for fun. We were trained to win at any cost, so much so in fact that if the opportunity presented itself we would not think twice about stuffing our unruly opponents into a trash compactor. It was our own slightly psychotic dog-eat-dog world, a bubble where we could fearlessly talk trash and sweat like 400-pound men.

The problem is that death threats, mental intimidation and excessive perspiration can come off as unattractive and borderline frightening to the casual athlete. I wanted to make a good impression on my temporary teammates, but I knew they weren’t going to understand when I ferociously kicked inanimate objects after a bad play or threw my hands up and aggressively screamed in their faces after a good one.

Luckily, it never came to that. The game was cancelled due to rain from the day before, an overreaction that worked in my favor. I did, however, decide that I am far too competitive to play sports for fun. In fact, all women who are former college athletes should follow my lead. People already think we are beastly and the last thing we need to do is perpetuate negative stereotypes or alarm people looking for some friendly competition.

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My Shoulder Is Not a Window

The Society for the Strange and Obnoxious must congregate at Starbucks. I know for certain that their meetings are scheduled around one thing and one thing only: my physical presence in the store. Normally, I tend to deal with the minor offenders. You know, the ones who stand too close in line or who take a millennium to figure out their order. Last week, however, I had the pleasure of meeting the head honcho of the club.

I was sitting in the corner, quietly guzzling my coffee and writing away in one of those briefly wonderful caffeine-fueled rages when I sensed someone sit down in the chair behind me. I paid no attention to the new presence and continued to write in a self-absorbed haze. I only took notice once I felt uneven breaths firing on the back of my neck.

I quickly jumped around to find a middle-aged, finely tanned man in a clean-pressed, white shirt looking at me with a smile that would also make sense on either a serial killer or Beavis. He spoke first. I felt he owed me this much as he was the one who initiated the heavy breathing. “Oh, hello, dear, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to sit here and spy on you,” he stated, rather presumptuously if I do say so myself.

I did mind. I really, really did.

“Well, OK, but I’m not writing anything very interesting.” It was true. But, if I were writing something interesting I’d rather share it over tea with Mitt Romney’s butt cheeks than with that jabrone.

I smiled and turned around so as to passive aggressively kill the conversation. He didn’t get the hint and unleashed a merciless verbal assault on me, asking all sorts of inane, prodding questions. I don’t get that. Can’t you tell when someone doesn’t want to engage in a conversation with you? Like, should I install a mini alarm system on top of my head that goes off when I reach the breaking point in an unsolicited conversation?

As I began bleeding out I looked around at the untouched Starbucks patrons with desperate eyes. I was going to die, damnit, why weren’t they helping me? They thought I was a willing participant, they thought I was also a lonely fool who sought comfort from strangers in Starbucks.

I must have forced myself into a blackout because I forgot the rest of the conversation. I only remember the first sign of dead air, which I used as an opportunity to get up and scram. Before I could escape fully the man called out to me, “Thanks for letting me use your shoulder as a window.” To which I replied, “Good sir, it was never meant to be a window.” I hate Starbucks.

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