|I learned to draw anatomy from observing athletes.|
Every year now I buy beer and learn the ESPN channels and flip them on when my son is nearby. Look, son, I say. The Giants are going to really have a helluva team this year! I grab him in a headlock and grind my fist into his head affectionately. Oscar pulls away and looks at me like I've got a mushroom growing out of my forehead. Dad, he says, baseball sucks.
What Oscar doesn't understand but a father must understand is that sports is the great equalizer among men. Two men who might instantly despise each other for class, race, hairstyle, rivalry over a woman, or a million other reasons, become conciliatory at the mention of the weekend's upcoming Bruins-Vikings game. It's a common love that men can share without being sentimental or queer. It's mathematical and statistical and puts men into a pleasant, dreamy state of mind.
Today I was talking with a guy from Dallas. We had nothing in common, it was obvious from the difference in our posture, dress, and natural bearing. You're from Oakland, he said. You a Raiders fan? I'm not taking sides, I said. Figures. You're an artist, he said. Artists are interested in important things. He was mocking me. Obviously I’ve lost my way.
Sports are the great connector and I fear that Oscar will never enter the world of men unless he develops some fluency with them. When I was in my teens I had a fear of authority and no understanding of men. My friend’s dads were absent or they were bullies and coaches. My dad was a black hole of mystery. That’s when I got a job at the public golf course. With my encyclopedic knowledge of players, statistics, and the politics and strategies of sports, I became conversant in the language of men for the first time and it gave me a great deal of confidence. I could hold my own with big, chesty men who had sideburns, wore cologne and plaid pants, and smoked cigars.
|I entered the world of men|