Sunday, March 12, 2006
A Day That Will Live In Infamy
Look, I'm a dude. That means a lot of things. It means I like red meat, I like porn with as few penises in it as possible, I've got hair growing in places where no person should even have folicles and I'm a sports whore. Sports whoring is what we do instead of talking to other people. Or thinking. Or feeling.
Yes, I've watched rugby. Yes, I've watched Olympic curling. Yes, I've watched ice dancing, but not because I'm gay. It was because there were dishes to be done. The compelling-ness of the drama unfolding on the field (or, in this case, rink) of play (or, in this case, totally subective dance competition) is inversely proportional to the mundanity of the task one is avoiding by allowing oneself to be engrossed. It's simple math.
All this is by way of explaining that even though I went out of my way to make fun of the inaugural World Baseball Classic a few days ago, that doesn't mean I wasn't going to watch.
Or even, say... take my two oldest boys with me to Anaheim to see the USA vs. Japan live and in person on a Sunday afternoon. Today, for instance.
OK, you busted me. We totally went.
Not only did we go, but we went to this outdoor-only event on the third day of what is our region's pathetic attempt to have a whole entire winter in the course of one weekend. It's been 80 degrees every day since fall started in September. And now here it is March and on Saturday, it didn't even top 50° under cloudy skies and all-day rain. Did you hear me? Not. Even. 50. In SoCal. I paid waaaaaay too much for my house so I could live somewhere where the weather is less pleasant that Dayton, Ohio. Do you know what you can get a house for in Dayton? Three animal pelts and a promise to "keep it down" when you're fornicating with the livestock. Why is it so cheap? Because Dayton sucks. It's cold in the winter, humid in the summer, it has no beach and, like, one freeway with no traffic. Everyone who lives there might as well be camping.
I've lost the thread of this post, hang on. Where was I... no, not Dayton... oh yeah! The baseball thing.
Anyway, we get to the stadium nice and early and I'm immediately thrown off. This is Angel Stadium, my stadium for my team. Right away I'm seeing Dodgers hats, Oakland hats, Mets hats... and hey, what's with all the Japanese people?
You know what, though? For all their reputation for having, as a people, sticks up their asses, nobody cuts loose like the Japanese. Alone, they're quiet, respectful, self-contained. Put them in a group and you just sort of get the feeling like we're all gonna cut out and rape Nanking at any second. Try it. Go to any karaoke bar in any large city right now. You'll see. After a couple of sakē, you'll be asking for directions to Manchuria in no time.
I don't know if they all came to SoCal just for this, but there were loads of non-American-born Japanese all clustered together in groups with signs and face-paint and screaming and such.
I was terrified.
Not because I fear any foreigners (I'm an American, remember) but because I was born in 1974, which means I was raised in a public school environment of multiculturalism and political correctness. The obvious Japanese pride and zeal for their team and/or individual players was met with a sort of jiggly default pro-Americanism as a sort of soft rebound response.
I have to tell you, even half-assed jingoism made me a little uncomfortable. Although I admit it might have been because it was cold and I couldn't feel my face.
Honestly, I squirmed a little bit in my liberal skin. I felt my lily-liver undulate a bit inside me. Every time the Japanese fans would break out with a hearty unified chant of "Nippon!" (or more accurately "Nee-PON! [clapclapclap] Nee-PON! [clapclapclap)"], they would be answered with a thunderous(ly unimaginative) "USA! USA!" It was a little too Republican National Convention for me.
What really freaked me out was my six-year-old leading the chanting in our section, all frenzied and fist-pumping like a little Mussolini, bless him. But then he also joined in the "Nee-PON!" chants too, so I didn't feel so bad. Turns out the kid just likes a good chant. Which reminds me I should really keep him away from the Wiccans.
One other thing I forgot to mention is that my mom has been staying with us for a little while. She has an extensive DVD collection that she likes to share with my kids from time to time. This includes, over my objections (taste rather than content), Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor. If any of you have seen it, it's a gritty, minimalist character-piece where all kinds of shit blows up real big and loud. And it has Ben Affleck.
It also has some... uh... "period dialogue."
Anyway, my four year old (not aware that we are more or less the only white people in our section) says rather loudly "Hey, it's Americans versus Japanese just like Pearl Harbor except with baseball!"
Naturally the people around me listening don't know Pearl Harbor is in italics.
Also, once he makes this very logical realization, he starts to regularly refer to the Japanese players (and this is true) as "Japs" as in "Are these Japs good hitters?" or "Who's this Jap? Does he play for the Angels?"
I keep adding "-anese" for him and he eventually gets the picture, but man... I kept waiting for a kamikaze from the level above us. It made for a full day. Fucking Ben Affleck, man.
Anyway, we managed not to freeze to death; and this in temperatures BARELY 25 DEGREES ABOVE FREEZING. And the USA managed to win the game. By cheating. Or rather, a really awful umpiring call in our favor. At the end, when the winning run crossed the plate, the Japanese players all splayed out across the field, dejected, not moving. And then I almost thought to myself "So this is what Hiroshima was like." But then I didn't. Because even though I couldn't feel my face, I could still feel my multiculturalist conscience excoriate me for even approaching such an idea. Instead, I bundled up my kids, lowered my head and plowed through the crowd so I could race to my car and beat traffic, throwing people out of my way and down concrete stairs as I passed, regardless of race or national origin.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.4