rugb The ball was out! I peeled off of the forwards and cut into the opposing team’s offense. The competitor ahead of me saw my barreling approach and feebly pitched the ball to his teammate, who ran past his poor throw, leaving the exposed ball floating in the air. It was a dandelion seed floating on the gentle October breeze.
Everything around me slowed into one timeless moment, an open expanse ahead, the rival team away from me. The ball begged to be plucked out of the air and carried down the pitch for a scoring try.
I imagined myself stealing the ball. Thundering down the field like a thoroughbred. Placing the ball in scoring territory, the entire game would stop and my teammates would flood onto the field. Cheering, they’d hoist me up onto their shoulders and I’d…
The ball fell to the ground. My legs gave out before I could catch it. I punctuated my lack of athleticism with a loud, “FUCK!” Was I truly that upset at my abilities? Or was I just being an attention whore for those on the sidelines? I cringe to admit it was a little of both. I continued to act like a pouting ninny, punching the field and at intermitted periods grunting like a baboon.
SINNER, REPENT THY SINS!
Perhaps I’m being too hard on myself. Every new relationship has a “getting to know you” period. I’m growing more accustomed to playing rugby. I’m also getting to know the follow-up rituals of a rugby match.
Following every game a boisterous drink up occurs in which the rival teams come together to sing bawdy songs and celebrate an afternoon of broken noses and sweaty man on man action. One such song, “Jesus Can’t Play Rugby”, is a particular favorite of mine. Everyone croons reasons why Jesus can’t play rugby (bloody thorns, heavy cross, etc). I stayed up late Friday night scribbling possible lyrics into my little blue notebook. Should your Jesus-ology be found pleasing then you are cheered to the heavens. Should you get booed, well…
Due to our gay team’s triumphant win (Blue You Rock!), champagne was in abundance. After chugging a half bottle of bubbly, I stepped forward and offered my fantastic verse!
“Jesus can’t play rugby cause hippies don’t have health insurance!”
It certainly seemed like a good idea at the time. And I committed to that sucker as too! Sadly, it was either a stinky verse or I shouted over someone else’s singing. Either way I was punished.
The blurry faces around me resounded with a chorus of boos and burly men barking “Shoot the boot! Shoot the boot!” Usually a failed rugger is forced to guzzle from a stinky rugby cleat. In my case it was a cherry red fireman’s helmet. Pushed forward, I guzzled a fizzy fusion of bubbly champagne, black ale and light beer, half of which soaked my polyester leisure jacket the other half-liter soaked my gullet. I don’t remember much following.
“Don’t shpeak to me. I’m invishible.”
Apparently this was my new verse the entire ride home as concerned mates checked on my wellbeing. I intently concentrated on the back of my eyelids. A stop at a gas station resulted in a much needed Mary Kate (outside the bus thank you.) And more vomiting occurred at the rugby president’s swanky Chelsea apartment where the entire team, sans moi, engaged in more libations.
Unconscious, I awoke from the dead to the “Hedwig” soundtrack for a bizarre little musical revue in front of my mates, before passing out again after vomiting one final time (inside the lavatory thank you…I think.)
Sunday morning after leaving a charitable person’s futon (Gox is gaseous oxygen FYI) I limped down the street. My hangover was a crown of thorns. I slumped into a train seat and grimaced as Saturday’s flashbacks mocked me.
Unfocused aggression, lack of technical skills, delusions of grandeur, growing team mentality, desired invishibility, showtunes; my cross feels heavier and heavier the more I analyze. Finding balance in any competitive sport is hard enough, but in gay rugby the stakes feel so much higher when I drag all my Luis Vuitton baggage onto the pitch. I brutally tackle a giant straight man and I giggle to myself, “Could I have played high school football instead of joining the drama club?”
Jesus Christ Superstar becomes the star quarterback until that next ball slips through my hands. But this time there’s no “Fuck!”, no pouting, ok maybe another Jesus lyric, but definitely no more cherry red fire helmets! All that’s left is a calm resolution to do better, plus all this damn running has made my calves look fabulous.