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Soup of This Day #298: Close Your Eyes, Clear Your Heart

March 6, 2013

A nightclub
When his Angels failed to show up until the next dawn, Charlie had no option but to blame it on the boogie – Photo: Mushin, 2006. Mushin is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

My recollection is vague but there are distinct shapes and notes in the gloom – The nightclub had that strobed glow and I was at the largely empty back bar. I can’t recall the face though – It’s indistinct. What I do recall is that she glided up as I leaned my forearms on the bar and offered to pay for the drink I’d just ordered – Tequila I think, but that’s mostly an assumption because that’s what I drank when I was out clubbing in those days, tequila with a slice of lemon and a lick of salt.

By night’s end I’d be hurling the tequila over my shoulder and scoffing salt-dipped lemon wedges.

And she was paying, not really offering so much as signalling to the bartender that mine was hers while I struggled to keep up, which automatically made me nervous. Later in the night, with more of Mexico’s finest warming my mojo and I’d have happily taken the free drink with no questions, accepting it as a gift with no implications. But that early and I stumbled out a lame thanks and anxiously wondered what she wanted.

The rules of human interaction have always been like that for me. Generally murky and with only occasional neon flashes to illuminate my confusion. It’s why I like sport – The interplay is defined and narrowly scoped – Good play can be met with a nod and a simple, low ‘well in.’ Bad play, which sits immediately to the side of the good variety, with little greyness in between, is met with fouls, penalties and fierce stares. You’re on the field or you’re off it – Just a white line separating the 2 states.

In truth though it’s not always that starkly played out – Sometimes the real world of complicated human stuff gets involved.

Like in Mark Knudson’s recent op-ed for Mile High Sports.

Mark is a former Major League relief pitcher, mostly for the Milwaukee Brewers. He retired with his native Colorado Rockies in 1993, having compiled a 24 and 29 record, and then forged a career in Colorado’s sports media.

Which is how he got to writing the piece in question, innocuously entitled, ‘Knudson: It’s about what’s best for the team.’

That reads like a decent and reasonable start, but then the article quickly gets rocky.

Mark wants to talk about ‘teamness’ and the best way to achieve that state of united zen is apparently by gay athletes keeping their orientation private.

Okaaaaaay… That is a bit of a giant step there but it’s alright because Mark has a ramp mapped out to help you get down there. You see, professional athletes are:

‘…going into intense competition in hostile environments and then being expected to perform flawlessly as a unit. And… …showering together afterwards.’

That’s boarding school in Narrogin right there. Never could figure why they just didn’t buy shower curtains.

Which is tough enough for your average straight athlete but lob a homosexual 1 in to that warzone and feelings will get hurt.

Apparently including those of the straight guys.

‘It’s also important to consider that the heterosexual players involved have feelings, too, and they’re no more or less valid than the feelings of those in the gay community. It’s amazing how many people feel free to criticize and tell athletes how they are supposed to feel, as if that’s anyone else’s right.’

Mark’s on to something here – Considering the other side is always a reasonable step. I have taken this approach to heart and decided to utilise it on a situation that involved hungry eyes and oh, so hot flesh.

And it had a sporting flavour, occurring in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse in 2011. There, the top 3 in Boston’s rotation, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey enjoyed fried chicken and beer during games they were not pitching, all the while their teamness buddies were fighting their way to ignominy. Feelings were hurt and this angst was aired such that everyone’s angle was considered.

Except the chicken’s.

Whose last feeling was probably curiosity: ‘Hey look at that shiny axe…’

So that part is not really relevant.

Maybe instead we could imagine that the 3 players were joined by a 4th and that this 4th guy was a vegan, who voiced an objection to the guys eating chicken and to reinforce the message chanted that meat is murder throughout the meal. Obviously the vegan guy is uncomfortable with the loss of chickenly life but in voicing his objection he’s made the consumers of the unlucky bird feel a little uncomfortable too. This is just what Mark is getting at.

He’s practically a seer.

Except that it is nothing like having a homosexual team-mate.

I’ve never had 1 of them criticise my straight sexual orientation and the closest thing to a chant I’ve got is something like: ‘Switch Longworth72. SWIIIIITCH!’

To be clear, that means to send the football across the park for an attack down the opposite flank. It is not a passionate plea to change my sexual orientation.

But wait – Apparently gay team-mates couldn’t help but check me out and I should have been overwrought with uncomfortableness and teamnesslessness:

‘Just as absurd as comparing workplace environments is the ridiculous claim by some in the gay community that there wouldn’t be any sort of physical attraction for a gay athlete toward any of his straight teammates – which would cause those very uncomfortable situations. He’s gay; he’s not dead. He can’t just flip a switch and turn off his feelings when he walks into the locker room.

Of course he’s going to have feelings of attraction toward a teammate or two. It’s human nature. These are some of the most physically fit and desirable human beings on the planet. The gay athlete isn’t going to notice that? ‘

Wow – He’s talking about hotly beautiful people operating as a tightly intermeshed team in a high-stakes world of cooperative showering.

So, I’m guessing that this means no lesbians in Charlie’s Angels then, who at least once in my teenage years, I imagined must have showered together. I hope someone has alerted Charlie to this because it would be a chancy business staying ahead of those curves, particularly given that he never meets the team.

And for that matter, has someone warned the firefighters, the police, the paramedics, the military, the residents of Gaza in the Middle East, or my local supermarket’s shelf-stacking crew? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so there are some seriously fit and attractive bodies in close proximity in all of those cadres – And given they’re mostly working under pressure I can’t help but think the whole world is about to boil over into dangerous liaisons and fatal attractions. Forget excessive carbon dioxide, it’s global orgies that will heat this love planet to uncomfortable levels of Marvin Gaye.

Fortunately in Gaza at least they’re on top of the situation and not each other – There, they’ve cancelled the 2013 running of a UN-organised fundraising marathon because they don’t want women running with men.

Because, 20kms in and just after you’ve hit the wall, you’re bound to be teeing up a make-out session with that guy who’s wheezing weakly past you up the hill.

Crisis averted.

And thanks to Mark Knudson we now know how to avoid similarly uncomfortable situations arising in professional sporting locker rooms – Everybody needs to suppress their humanity.

And their huwomanity too, you Angels.

You can save all of that raw lust for nightclubs – Writhing seas of sweaty flesh, intimate contact and bedroom eyes. A place where a bought drink is as good as a voucher for sex.

Or not, as it happened.

Because my memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be. After some more thinking time I recall that, on the night that lead off this post, the she was a he and the he was not interested in me, at least not that way. He was buying me a drink to be sure, but that’s because I was shouting a round for some friends and he’d taken a shine to 1 of them, who I’ll call Jeff, mostly because I don’t think I’ve ever gone clubbing with a Jeff.

Jeff though wasn’t gay and this he explained to his would-be suitor, who I’m calling Bob, mostly because I’ve met a few Bob’s and I’ve generally thought them to be good people.

As seemed to be this guy.

For Bob just smiled, nodded, saluted us and our gifted drinks and sauntered off. No blood, no foul and absolutely no uncomfortableness.

Thanks for the tequila Bob. @#$% off Mark.

Close Your Eyes, Clear Your Heart

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