Thursday, April 26, 2012

Baseball Season

I learned to draw anatomy from observing athletes.
Here it is April and I’ve made my yearly resolution to take Oscar to some Giants and A’s games this summer. In yet another way that I may be failing as a father I haven't drilled sports into my son, not soccer, not football, not basketball, not even my old sport, baseball. He can't throw or kick. When I was his age we thought that kids who didn't play sports were slightly effeminate and strange. And, because Roger Janeke's parents spoke German at home and he didn't play sports, we assumed that it had something to do with being German. As for being slightly effeminate and strange, I got there eventually, but it took maturation and an interest in the arts. Up through high school I was all juiced up and red blooded and if it had a ball or puck involved I was passionate about it. Actually I never played hockey even though it was a major sport in Michigan and many of my classmates were toothless from it.

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

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