posted on July 15, 2013 00:00
I met her at the grocery store. Beyond the long blonde hair and curvy, feminine frame, to me she had the kind of dynamic, charismatic demeanor rare among a lot of attractive women. (It's an ignorant prejudice, but I all but expect "hot" girls to have unimpressive personalities) I managed to catch her attention in produce and fabricated the ever precarious conversation from scratch somewhere near the milk, securing the ever elusive, actually actual phone number.
Cart full of fruit and veggies…she was healthy. Splatter of paint in her hair from some abstract painting she’d been toiling on…an artsy chick. She lived a few blocks away. She was practically my neighbor.
And she had a very nice ass. I do like a nice ass.
Less mature and less secure at that point in my life, I got busy creating poetic imaginings of our connectedness from the vacuum of initial infatuation. Though I had impressed upon her enough to secure a future get-together of some kind, all the pluses I’d assumed amplified by a desire to be as special to her as I thought she might be to me began to cause me to question my qualifications as a suitor.
The confidence that allowed me to approach her in the first place began to erode. Within a few dates of her confirming many of the aforementioned qualities, my need for her validation was proving disasterous. Nearly as fast as it had sprung from ceramic tile beneath those fluorescent lights, the whole thing had withered and died.
It’s a slippery slope, the moment you begin to sacrifice any part of yourself to gain the approval of someone else. It’s ineffective at best. At worst, it’s a mental disorder.
I wasn’t mad at her. How could I be? I had acted like a child at a point in my life I was certain I was past such behavior. Fortunately, I realized it right away, forgiving myself with the solemn promise it would never happen again. I can say with absolute certainty that it has not.
About a year and a half later I was at the Bread Co. on South Grand with a very attractive female friend. Lebanese, olive complexion, curvy body and dark wavy hair. We remain close to this day, though the nature of our relationship never took a romantic turn. Still, she is the kind of girl you don’t mind other girls seeing you smiling and laughing with. Our relationship itself was a pretty strong testament to my progress.
We were standing close together when, for some reason, I looked to my left and there was grocery store girl waiting for her order. The moment I saw her, she saw me.
I smiled dispassionately, recognizing what was taking place and her expression let me know that the great, karmic equalizer of life had officially balanced the scales.
She did not look as angelic as I remembered. When we met it was the dead of winter. My pasty, dry whiteness cloaked in layers. Now midsummer in the middle of a sunny afternoon, I was tan and, having been working out religiously was feeling as fit and attractive as I had at any point in my life.
She on the other hand looked…average.
Did I feel momentarily vindicated for whatever brief pain my ego had endured upon being dismissed so casually? Sure. But mostly I was just puzzled that I’d been so enamored with her in the first place.
Then I felt kind of sorry for her. She was 2011 Ryan Howard in the corner of the screen, crumpling to the ground in agony while Cardinals players celebrated. I felt sorry for her, but was glad I’d won the game.
That’s a bit dramatic. But the fact remains that once I had decided to never again place somebody else in the driver’s seat on my road towards self-acceptance, I set into motion a future of more promising prospects.
When Albert Pujols signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - the glitzy, pretentious, oozing with envy-inducing talent, glamour and capital Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; an intoxicating ideal of offensive perfection incarnated complete with that New Car smell - I was stunned.
The thing about getting dumped is that you are forced to entertain the fact you may not be as desirable as you imagined yourself to be with the help of a person you very much trusted. That smarts, I don’t care who you are. And we proud and faithful fans of the home team got dumped, plain and simple.
Pujols going 1 for 11 in the series against the visiting, first place Cardinals was a Bread Co. moment.
Lately, the Great Albert Pujols looks…average.
That we as fans of the Saint Louis Cardinals enjoyed the best of this phenomenal, far-from-average athlete’s brilliance for over a decade while Los Angeles now boasts the most overpaid DH in the history of humanity has been beaten to death. The team's success since Pujols' departure further validates that it was us who came out on the winning end of the divorce. But there are still a huge number of “best fans in baseball” representatives bashing the guy which no longer makes any sense to me whatsoever.
Grown men behaving like lovers scorned in a relationship of any kind no longer makes any sense to me whatsoever.
I am neither advocating for, nor admonishing Albert Pujols for taking an enviable amount of money to skip town. Whatever insincere lip service he paid us as he played like a man possessed to our delight...we should be embarrassed for taking any of that seriously to begin with. He’s a professional public figure. But why any grown man would still be taking personally the actions of another man nearly two years later and a thousand miles away is, in my amateur opinion, borderline homoerotic.
Let me be clear: if you think I am suggesting that one man's unexplicable emotional fixation upon another man, be it Albert Pujols or otherwise, could be an indication of deeper psychological issues, including potentially one’s unwillingness to accept their own dormant homosexual desires, that is exactly what I am saying.
Like women that ditch us for reasons we cannot understand, and other public figures that fail to fit the ideals we choose for them to adopt, every adult has every right to do whatever he or she wants and to reap those consequences. Good, bad or indifferent.
The moment he resigned himself from the bondage of Cardinal Nation via the expiration of his professional contract, from that day forward, Pujols owed Cardinal Nation nothing.
We owe it to ourselves to remember that our debt to others who no longer value our companionship or involement in their lives is the same.
This is as much about being a man as it is being a baseball fan and it all boils down to a very valuable, very important philosophical virtue, which is living in the present moment.
In the past lives our regrets, mistakes and other baggage. In the future, our fears and insecurities. In the present, whether eating meal, washing dishes or enjoying a baseball contest, ideally there is only the unwavering focus upon the task at hand.
Which is the very thing that made Albert Pujols so goddamn fun to watch.
When he uncoiled on a nasty, two-strike slider for a double to the gap…when he got brushed back by a fastball high and tight only to lock in on the next pitch for a bomb – which he seemed to do remarkably often – it was more than just extraordinary baseball. It was the very method of living towards which we should all aspire.
And maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s that, regardless of the win/loss column, we fear never being able to witness such a thing so regularly ever again, and so use anger and angst to cope. Extraordinary individuals like Pujols are vessels of brilliance…evidence of the greatness we painstakingly seek within ourselves. Personally, I believe that is what draws us towards sports and the arts to begin with.
Maybe it is time for us to look as deeply into our own worlds to find some of that shit.
Or, perhaps bitching on Twitter and radio programs and creating mock #5 jerseys with duct tape is all the creative energy your sad little soul can muster. Either way, contrary to your belief that a ballplayer’s peace of mind is solely attached to his batting average with RISP, AP is doing just fine.
The girl from the grocery store…probably also doing just fine.
Maybe we should all be doing just fine.
Good luck, AP.
J. Adams is the supremely flawed individual responsible for this here Man Hole section. Take his ramblings and spirited outbursts for whatever they're worth to you and feel free to follow him on Twitter via @Intangiball or to leave your own wild ass comments below.