Happiness Doped

Update June 10, 2008. There’s a new movie out on steroids. Like so many other ”docu- mentaries”, they should have titled it: Too little, Too Late.

Looking back on life I can make (only) a few claims to actually experiencing what I was taught/told/ is ”happiness”. Like so many other things in this world, I’m sure that the tellers of happiness meant well. And in a few cases the tellers weren’t completely wrong. For example. The birth of my son is at the top of my list of ”happiness”. Crabbing in and around the Chesapeake Bay is in that list as well. The first two years after moving to Ger-many where I slept with at least x-number of different women…

Seriously. I tried not to. But. Quickly after moving to Europe/Germany did I learn one of the major differences between American women and European women. Promiscuity was without recourse in Europe. No one was called a slut or a whore or whatever and people didn’t talk trash about you. (How civil, eh.) People were just looking for love and being with someone and I sloppily put myself in the middle of it all and took advantage of whatever I could. Now that I’m middle aged and can’t perform like that anymore… I don’t regret a thing.

Speaking of the past, i.e. regret. Let’s go back a few years. How about 1979?

The last claim to happiness that I’ll worst-write about today, dear worst-reader, is when I played American football in high school. American high school was the culmination of life experience and the spring board to/of who I am today with only one slight twist. The reality is, I hated American high school. The only thing that got me through it was sports. Throughout I played football starting at the end of summer and through the fall/early-winter and then played tennis through the spring. For summer vacation I worked at a gas station or cut grass for upper middle class snobs. To pass any free time during the summer I dabbled in Golf and Lacrosse. The only regret I have is not having played baseball. What a waste of time it all turned out to be.

Yet. I don’t know what I’d be today if it weren’t for sports back then. At the least, I’d probably be happier and living life without so much regret.

There truly is happiness in life when you’re commanding a team of ten other boys. You’re calling the plays and singing cadences and your handing off the ball or you’re throwing it twenty yards down field through a swinging old non-radial tire (the defense) into the awaiting hands of a guy named Bruce or Todd who is your team-mate but you barely know.

American Football Cadence: a particular series of vocal calls, intended to keep an offense in rhythm and coordinated to when the quarterback will hike the ball.

Yes, I was the quarterback. I was the “brains” of the team. I was … an absolute jock imbecile blind to the realities of life before and after the game. Except for the chicks. You know, the key to dumbing-down a society must lie in the reality of gettin’ laid. But the cheerleaders and pompom girls bored the hell out of me. Although all other standards in my life were pretty low, I tried to keep it high with the chicks. Being regularly featured in the local newspaper seemed to do the trick. I was known for being with non-jock chicks. That culminated in dating a girl who starred in a high school production of The Glass Menagerie. Yeah, how ironic that I would fall for a theater-chick and then end up being a failed playwright.

Oh what a memory. Amanda Wingfield and I were something like the odd-couple. I was or wanted to be the jock that transcended. She wanted to get more of an audience. To this day the beautiful girl who played her on stage is still in my dreams. How long, then, will the sanity remain?

When I wasn’t playing football or some other dumb-downing sport I spent the rest of my time observing and trying not to think. The future? College? Job? I was actually dumb enough to believe that I could go to college and continue playing football. The athletic chasm, though, between high school and college is simply too big. The chasm between college and professional football is either the same size or a tick bigger. That is what I learned after it was too late. In the mean time, at the beginning of my junior year of high school, our team was ranked number one in our division. We were on our way that season to the state championship. One day during a school lunch break, in the parking lot behind the school, one of my team-mates came up to me.

Dude: Dude, you wanna improve your performance?

Me: Uh…?

Dude: Your forty (yard dash) time goes up immediately. You’ll bench press fifty more pounds by next Tuesday.

Me: Gee…

Dude: Come on, dude. Everybody’s doing it. Here. Bend over!

I bent over and felt a slight prick. Later that day, probably while sitting in history class or make-believe civics, I felt a strange moisture in my seat. I looked down and saw a small speck of blood. In the bathroom I washed the needle wound on my ass and the cold water finally helped to clot it. How correct Dude was. Within days I could run faster and could bench press more and there were even moments where I thought, if I really put some effort into it, I could squeeze that regulation pig skin, wrongly shaped ball till it popped like a balloon. Oh, the only other side-effect of taking what was called Deca-Durabolin (aka Nandrolone) was the shockingly large amount of seaman that I released into or all over that sweet girl who played Amanda Wingfield in our high school’s biggest theater hit.

Yes. Drugs were/are everywhere. Drugs to get you high and drugs to make you run fast. It’s no wonder to me that now, so many years later, those same drugs mixed with guns are randomly killing so many people. Yet. Thanks to sports I was able to stay away from getting high. I quickly realized, though, that taking drugs (of any kind) was the wrong thing to do. (At least while you’re still so young.) Perhaps I owe a tidbit of wisdom to a conversation that went something like this:

Coach/Teacher: Dude, you need to focus on your future after high school.

Me: Uh. But. I. Want. Play…

Coach/Teacher: Dude, listen, you’re talented but you’re not gifted. Now don’t misunderstand. The world is a big place and you can TRY to do almost anything you want. But I recommend that you consider improving your grades and then maybe going to the community college.

Yeah, I could throw a pig-skin ball through a swinging old tire from twenty-five to thirty yards out. But I couldn’t see the reality of what a future outside the confines of Momma-like American High School held for me. Being the product of the broken American dream, I accepted no advice from wannabe mentors.

At least, somehow, I learned/realized that winning a championship high school game didn’t matter. Add to that the fact that I knew that I was stuck in a world of mediocrity and mendacity… whether I threw the ball straight, curved or dead-on. There was/is no getting out. I just wasn’t one of them gifted athletes and there weren’t enough drugs to change that.

”You are talented but you are not gifted.”

Listening to gifted athletes – who could have “made it” without drugs – sit in front of the US Congress and deny taking these substances continues the breaking of my heart. There is no meaning in a life filled and ruled by all these gimme-more pigs. Roger Clemens – a gifted athlete – who is now being scrutinized for the alleged use of ”performance enhancing” substance(s) is, of course, denying the use of substances. Instead he is claiming to inject vitamin B12 in his ass. I don’t want to get into judging people. But the problem is that when people like this – the gifted – don’t know when to say no, well… ain’t it obvious why life really sucks for the rest of us. Oh. And it doesn’t stop at sports. Even famous actors now publicly claim that taking these substances is OK. Well, then. May the gifted rule.

With that in mind, let’s all take a moment of silence to praise all the gifted ones out there. They deserve so much more.

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Rant on.

-tgs-