Friday, January 4, 2013


I am not a competitive guy. I am noncompetitive to a fault, in fact. Last night my friend Elizabeth teased me when I was complaining about my current job, "But, Joe, you can't be sure you'd be able to find a job that pays less." She was probably referencing an earlier incident when about a dozen years ago a prospective employer cited a salary offer, even apologizing that she could not offer me more, given my education and qualifications, and I actually replied, "I would have accepted the job for less." One does not pursue a calling in community college education if one seeks wealth, clout, and high esteem. I did not join any sports teams in school. I did not join the debate team, although I'm fairly opinionated and naturally gifted in argument. An aunt once told me that, even as a baby, I would lie on a bed dreamily, never once crying for attention. I was an only child. I was not spoiled, but I never felt the need to compete for anything.

I mention this because one of the great loves of my life is wrestling, which is a highly competitive sport and, even as mere entertainment, a spectacle that celebrates competition at its most intense. Part of the appeal of wrestling for me is its oppositeness to who I am temperamentally. It's aggressive, dramatic, excessive. I tend to be easy-going (though with a strong undercurrent of stubbornness), matter of fact, understated. Opposites attract. But my love of wrestling is not only vicarious. More than anything I love wrestling's physicality.  I love horseplay, roughhouse, boyish rough and tumble. As I have noted in other posts, I wrestled college athletes in the dorm even though I did not involve myself in college sports otherwise. I liked pure physical delight to be the only stakes involved. I liked winning, I liked losing, pretty much equally. Neither a bottom nor a top, I like to struggle against someone who is capable of beating me and whom I'm capable of beating. If the stakes are sex, I can pitch or I can catch, and I'm not too fond of the roles being well delineated before the two of us have tussled for the top spot. The sensation of touch, the rush of being the object of somebody's full attention, the conflation of pain and exhilaration, the rubbery squash of muscle and bone, the exalted consciousness of being alive and breathing, these are what I like best about wrestling and horseplay.

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