Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Someone Who Stays When Others Leave

I've always adored corndog sports movies, the kind of manipulative crap that revolves around a few key plot points -- a deeply talented, totally gorgeous, preferably poor (think Jared Leto in Prefontaine) athlete works his way from the bottom to become somebody. Through fault or no fault of his or her own, he or she loses the spark, the thrill, and subsequently the crown. After a crucial turnaround (think of Nadia C. losing weight and resuming with her meany-pants coach Bela to get her groove back), he or she becomes a star again, recaptures the promise. Add some lesbian locker room action (Personal Best), some outside political drama (Mark Spitz gone missing during the murder of the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics), or just bad luck and shitty weather (Mitch Gaylord pouting and shirtless in the rain during American Anthem), and you've got me hooked.

For years, I competed as a gymnast but the best I ever did was second place on a rather uninspired floor routine at the Texas State Championships. I clung to the ribbon (the only one I was likely to get that mattered) until I started to date a boy who was an extremely talented gymnast. He wasn't straight, but we had many emotional moments that included the exchange of overwraught notes that included every sports cliche written in various locker rooms for inspiration. (A winner is someone who stays when others leave, Victory isn't everything, it's the only thing -- umm, you get the idea.) I gave him my ribbon when I gave up the sport -- I was too tall, too bored, and too tired of not eating to continue. I knew I didn't have the spark, and that I wasn't destined to be anybody, much less somebody. My pseudo-boyfriend, however, had the most important thing in all the movies and according to many coaches -- heart, that elusive ability to keep going when everything seems bleak. He also had a devastating smile, the kind I have never seen before or since. It expressed so many things at once, all the pain of his tremendously difficult life (he also had the requisite sports movie poverty which in reality wasn't so great), the sadness of his family, and still the ever-continued openness in the face of a lot of jerks. He smiled with his eyes, a heart-breaking smile, and as all the great cliches go, you had to see it to believe it.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Pictures must be miraculous." Mark Rothko

Cherry Dr. Pepper

1 Dr. Pepper
1 cherry
1 shot of cherry juice

Serve over crushed ice. (Hey, it's Monday. If you've been drinking all the spells, you need to heal your liver! Dr. Pepper will help.)

Benedictions and Maledictions

Smaller, Darker

The streets are not yours or mine.
We pauset at atrocity, catch our
breaths, buy things we love to discard.
Mark Rothko took to smaller, darker
paintings until he overdosed, not
the most interesting way to die, but there
you have it. I've given you something
to wear around your neck. If you
drown, don't say that I didn't warn you.


JR's Thumbprints said...

How about Bruce Jenner too? Man can he not act. --Jim

Anonymous said...

Today's triple-header "Quote of the Day": #1 "Vision," that vaquest of words, has been used by the friends and enemies of mystics to describe or obscure a wide range of experience: from formless intuition, through crude optical hallucination, to the voluntary visualizations common to artists....In it we must include that personal and secret vision which is the lover's glimpse of Pefect Love....--Evelyn Underhill;#2: It has been the business of the seeker, the would-be hero and the warrior, from the very beginning of myth and fairy tale, not to be fooled. But the difficulty is that truth and falsehood, delusion and revelation, are always mixed for us--like our sleep and waking.--D.M.Dooling:#3: You can't handle the truth!--Jack Nicholson.

Anonymous said...

Johnny Weissmuller was great as Tarzan. I wonder if he ever made it with Mia Farrow's mother. Or was he gay, too? Oh my God, didn't he have that minkey with him all the time?

Anonymous said...

Your knowledge is so encyclopedic and yet at the same sime it's not overbearing or pretentious. It does have a liberal slant, though. College does rub off on people. I forgive you. Nice polka dot ourfit. The air isn't as humid out West. Rejuvenative. And healthy.

Cheri said...

Does anyone actually read the AP quotes? I just skip over them.

Anyways, was he your first boyfriend? Because I made the mistake of making my first boyfriend a gay guy as well. Only I didn't know it. It's a funny story, maybe I'll share it some day. You know me and men, Michelle, nothing is ever ordinary.

Dr.Pepper with cherry is amazing! Come visit me at work and you'll have refills as much as you'd like.

Anonymous said...

No, I wasn't her first boyfriend. It was Johnny Weissmuller.

Anonymous said...

Come see me at work, Michelle, and I'll give your refills.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of minkeys.

Anonymous said...

Touching post, Michelle. And I have to disagree -- you do have "heart, that elusive ability to keep going when everything seems bleak." You just hadn't found the right sport yet. Writing is your sport! Cheers, R

Anonymous said...

Are you Irish, Michelle?

Michelle's Spell said...

Hello All--

Yeah, Jim, that poor Bruce Jenner. He and Mark Spitz should have had a variety show! As for the boyfriend, he was one of my first loves -- he eventually started dating older men after he quit gymnastics (broke his knee and two vertebrae in his lower back) as did I so we had something else in common. As to the Irish question, I'm not. My mother was French (born in the South Pacific), and my father was from Kansas. (English/Scottish background) Thanks for the great comments! Cheers, M

Anonymous said...

Here's looking at you, kid.

paul said...

My Cajun Queenie I love them shades. Hot Mama!

R2 C2!

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle,

How lovely you are. (I think I recognize that backdrop.) Anyway, athletics and sports movies are the best. I like to watch Brian's Song, never fails to water the eyes. When the others are long gone, I promise I'll stay the course - with Taittinger or Bolly, of course. Wonderful post. Bravo!

Wichita-Lineman said...

I'm suddenly in the mood to go out and rent "Young Blood" and "Slap Shot."