4.10.2020

Gay Kickball

In retrospect, I should have known I was going to hate gay kickball, but I was lonely. Dating in your thirties in, the, er, lower middle class of human beauty isn’t as fun as soap commercials make it seem. An additional problem with dating gay men in their thirties and forties is that we’re going off-warranty at this point; I didn’t feel old enough to be ghosted by someone with a CPAP machine, and yet…

Meg and I have talked occasionally about the burden of having a “big personality” – you can feel a pressure to be wacky and fun when really all you want to do it to take a break from yourself, to enter a beige-and-taupe waiting room of the mind and spend six hours not doing a Goddamn bit. This pressure – are you being fun enough? Are you interesting enough? NO ONE WILL LOVE YOU IF YOU’RE NOT ZANY – has occasionally led me to do shit I knew I would hate because it was BoNKeRz and “the kind of ting a fun-loving person would do.”

So because I wanted to meet men and pretend to be a slightly different kind of goofball, I joined a gay sports league. With my friend Greg, whom I had relatively recently broken up with, and who did substantially better with his post-break-up tomcatting around than I had, which really set me up for emotional success. We initially started with trivia, which was terrible in a boring way – the bar was too loud and too many of the questions were about identifying images of celebrities – but our team came in third place and won a $75 voucher at a mid-level pizza joint across town. Getting a pizza party for being smart-but-not-too-smart was too much of an elementary-school flashback (and did I mention all the way across town), so I blew it off, but decided to sign up for gay kickball.

Doesn’t gay kickball, divorced from any actual experience you’ve had with it, sound fun? Glitter, squealing, “go long, Mary,” slutty uniforms, A League of Their Own jokes?

Lol.

First of all – we had to download a chat app to stay in touch with our team. Maybe I’m the asshole (I’m certainly AN asshole), but fuck you and go away, I don’t want to be summonable. Stay in your lane and don’t like, be part of my life that hard, stranger who is also gay and planning to run around a field.

Second of all – we got notified (via the cHaT ApP) that we were to attend a scrimmage before the actual season began. We were supposed to meet our team at a particular spot in a particular bar to meet each other an hour before. WELL, THEM BITCHES DIDN’T ARRIVE, so at like 2:04 Greg and I left to get high and watch Maude because we both had work travel the next week and because we wanted to get high and watch Maude. (We passed a clutch of people on the way out that 1) I think was them 2) DEFINITELY included someone named “Big Gay Dan” I had gone to college with, but fuck you, I GOT ON THE CHAT APP, don’t just go MEET SOMEWHERE ELSE, and did you know there’s an episode of Maude where she talks about having stress diarrhea?)

So I go on this long work trip all around North Louisiana and I don’t check my gay kickball chat app. Well, IN MY ABSENCE, there’s a summons to practice – PRACTICE – at like, 5 pm on a work day, and also I’m in Shreveport. There are then catty messages about how they CANNOT hold practice with only five people, are you taking this seriously, this is important!

So naturally this fills me with… emotions about the first game of the “season” the next Saturday, but because I don’t want to feel like a quitter I plan to go. 20-ish minutes before we get there, the same woman who had been fussing everyone about practice on the chat app beams through a fresh nag about how important it is to participate fully because the social aspect is just as important. So before she had met me, this stranger had scolded me twice.

I am pleased to report that the scoldy lady looked EXACTLY like you want her to – sporty, bottle-blond pony pulled severely back, exquisitely curated rainbow sweatband on her wrist, prim little smile. She looked like one of those elementary school teachers who hates children but likes being obeyed. Her co-ringleader of this ORGANIZED FUN ZONE was a hyper little whippet gay with adult braces. We proceed to be given: THE RULES.

1) Come to the games, come to the practices, come to the CRAFT NIGHTS.

Girl whut. That’s three nights a week. I’m a grown person with a job and other friends and a limited interest in being good at kickball or making things related to kickball. Also, I explicitly signed up for the “for fun” league, not the “I’m good at kickball” league.

2) We have chosen the theme for Spirit Week and it is Space Jam and we will be making costumes and planning a routine.

Girl no. I’m fun ON MY OWN, I don’t need a stranger instructing me to dress like Marvin the Martian. I’ve never seen Space Jam ON PURPOSE because the mean kids in sixth grade liked it and I didn’t want to be like them.

3) T-shirt modifications and decorations are encouraged, but you must ensure the logos remain readable and uncovered.

Girl LOL, this isn’t Formula One and I bought this T-shirt, you’re dumb and an asshole.

4) GET ON THE CHAT WE’RE ALL FAMILY THIS IS FUN IT’S LIKE FAMILY WE HANG OUT ALL THE TIME AND TALK SHIT IT’S LIKE FAMILY

I will never forgive myself for not saying “If this is my family, who’s got the crippling benzodiazepine addiction and who is merely enabling it?”

There’s more, but it blurs together in haze of perfect ponytails and annotated lists. We snuck away the instant orientation was over – Greg threw his T-shirt away in a bar bathroom, which I admired, and then I had to give him mine when he fell into a cactus. We deleted the chat app, blocked everyone’s phone numbers, marked the emails as spam, and spent the next year making “the social aspect is just as important memes.”

I met a nice guy recently. He left an Icy Hot patch in my bed, but he’s never told me which cartoon character to dress as.

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