Monday, October 15, 2012

As the baseball season winds down, baby season kicks in with a vengeance

What is it that guys talk about? Assuming guys actually talk to each other and not just mumble incoherently, attempting, for reasons cultural anthropologists are at a loss to explain, to imitate their hominid ancestors, grunts over beers in a bar somewhere, Patti Smith on the sound system reminding guys why they're so often hopeless dicks, some girl sitting in the corner savoring a mostly incomprehensible novel by Kathy Acker, in which men are brutally deconstructed at near the speed of light, their true natures as callous, unfeeling, grunting morons revealed.

Typical Guy A:  "So, like, how's it going?"
Typical Guy B:  Grunts, gulps beer noisily, assumes deadpanned expression.
T. G. A: "How's, uh, you know, what's her name?"
T. G. B: Sucks in air, rolls eyes. "She stopped talking to me about a week ago."
T. G. A: "Bummer. Hey, what do you think that chick over in the corner is giggling about?"
T. G. B: "Who the fuck knows? Maybe she just metaphorically offed her boyfriend."
T. G. A: No clue what that means, but grunts and nods head, because in the usually deluded haze of male discourse some sense of mutual understanding appears to matter. "Anyway, did you see the game last night?"

And there it is, the way through the wilderness, the one topic to successfully navigate the maze of damaged male ego, elevating the conversation to a level where something at least simulating rational dialogue can occur.  The game.  Baseball.
You don't even have to be interested baseball, or know anything about it to have the conversation. Baseball is mostly intuitive; it neutralizes typical male obstinacy, facilitates an easy suspension of disbelief, while promoting a vaguely satisfying sense of camaraderie. 

So the revised conversation goes something like this:
"Anyway, did you see the game last night?"
"Need you even ask?"
"How about that ninth inning?"
"Amazing! Cabrera does it again, huh?"
"I'm telling you, the guy is incredible."

(Note: Even if you haven't watched the game, invoking the name Cabrera is a safe bet, owing to the fact that there are like 47 guys named Cabrera currently playing in the Majors. Chances are there's at least one of them playing in every game on any given day. There are also 28 guys named Josh, making it not only a good second choice, but also lending an air of first name familiarity that will no doubt impress your friends.)

And this is how it should be, smooth, precise, emotionally non-threatening. In a perfect world all male conversations would be about baseball.  But then most of know through bitter experience what buying into the 'perfect world' scenario generally leads to.
Occasionally guys go off the reservation, a tiny, seahorse-shaped wrench is tossed into the works, baseball fades into mere background noise and all of a sudden all they can talk about is babies. You think maybe it's a virus, or something they ate, that it'll pass, but it doesn't. They've boarded the baby boat and there's no turning back. You want to talk playoffs, they want to talk sonograms; you've got tickets to a game, they'd love to go but they're flying to somewhere in the former Soviet Union to buy diapers in bulk (hey, it could happen); you grunt, growl primordially, they goo-goo, gaga; in desperation, you start reading Kathy Acker, they're busy studying the New Father's Survival Guide. 

"So, an actual, real-life baby, huh?"
"As in miniscule quasi-human who miraculously appears one day and then runs roughshod over your life for the next twenty years."
"I can hardly wait."
"A baby, lest we forget, who can't even pick up a bat, let alone hit for a decent average."
"Great, isn't it?"
"Wait a minute. If you're going to be a Daddy, that means I'm ..."
"Ah, the penny drops."
"But ..."
"Welcome to the brave new world, Grandpa."
"Shit, I've got to sit down, get my breathing under control."
"What about the game?"
"The what now..?


No comments:

Post a Comment