Cupping the Ball

Make room for another washed-up millennial on the USA World Cup bandwagon, unless you want me to join the European one and dress accordingly:

 

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Just like it doesn’t matter which side the shaft runs along in this marvel of efficient fashion — the result is still a dick on a thigh — it doesn’t matter why I cheer alongside you diehard soccer fans now. It doesn’t matter how much I know about the sport or how long I have been watching it. People enjoy the same things in different ways and for different reasons.

Some folks like sex for the emotional intimacy or presumed commitment. Others think of it merely as pleasurable friction or a vehicle for reproduction. I find the appeal of intercourse to be rooted in the simple yet meaningful idea of a part of me literally being inside of another person. Sometimes the thought is so compelling that I want to do it with everybody around me.

Human connection makes for a powerful stimulus, and soccer is tapping into that for me at the moment. That’s how I choose to enjoy it. I don’t care to wake up before dawn to watch Premier League games or worship star players on another continent except Ronaldo with his shirt off.

But every four years, I revel in the camaraderie, the U-S-A chants, the frenzied flag-waving and age-blind face-painting. I suppose on some level that’s how the Nazi party rose to power, but sports generally provide a safe outlet for tribal fervor unless you are an Argentina or Dodgers fan. Thank goodness Clayton Kershaw is not of Mexican descent, or we would need some fire extinguishers and forklifts to tend to the overturned cars in East L.A. this morning.

It feels good to high five and cheer and boo with the rest of the mob because we all need to feel like we belong from time to time. Thousands packed the Hermosa Beach pier Monday to watch the opener against Ghana on a giant projector screen set up a kickoff away from the Pacific Ocean. All the noise drifting through our office window prompted some coworkers and I to duck out to catch the start of the match. Barely after I realized the U.S. team was the one in red jerseys, Clint Dempsey scores the fifth-fastest goal in World Cup history and I am jumping up and down in a sea of convulsing red-white-blue, covered with goosebumps in the Southern California sunshine. Heck, I got chills just watching television replays of crowds going berserk in Chicago, Brooklyn, Bethlehem and Afghanistan.

This is exciting. Let me have my fun without trying to make me feel like a fraud for paying attention to soccer once every presidential term. The bandwagon was designed to scale rapidly for circumstances precisely such as this. Team USA plays mighty Portugal in 72 hours. I will be cheering among the millions in this country who can’t name more than five of our players, wonder why they don’t just stop the clock instead of adding stoppage time, struggle to see the resolution in a 0-0 final score… and believe we will win again.

Couples Retreat

As the length of my relationship stretches, so does the gap between blog posts. I simply can’t think of anything not boring to write about, and this might be worth writing about in and of itself. Couples, you see, are boring to everybody but themselves. That’s why they tend to hang out with other couples — because single people won’t tolerate such uninteresting company.

The Office was going to be the funniest sitcom ever, until Jim and Pam started dating. The steadier their relationship got, the deeper into mediocrity the show plunged. The longer I occupy myself in love, the more bland I become. It doesn’t seem that long ago when my overzealous celebration of my ex-girlfriend’s alma mater losing in the Rose Bowl required a dual treatment of Plan B and Neosporin for the parties involved the next morning.

I don’t have the energy to celebrate like that anymore. While riding my bicycle the other day, I tossed an apple core into the garbage on the sidewalk without stopping. The trash can had a small circular opening no bigger than a bread plate, necessitating some athletic talent to go with an intuitive feel for physics. It was an amazing feat on my part to not even hit the rim, yet all I did was pump my fist a little bit. Two years ago, I at least would have taken off my shirt and waved it for a few blocks. Two nights ago, I hit the softball farther than ever and didn’t even flash the throat-slash sign at the pitcher like I always dreamed of doing.

You lose a certain sort of edge when you gain a life partner. You care less about your image, body, career, social skills, meeting new people. You still have fun, but generally on the emotional island inhabited by you and your hubby, and those stories rarely resonate with the outside world. My girlfriend sent a picture of a dick-shaped balloon to me while at a bachelorette party in Vegas. So I grabbed the nearest party-themed object and responded in kind with an organic dick pic:

 

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Allow me to streamline our conversation and answer your three questions about this picture preemptively:

1. My abdominal definition here was achieved after only five days with exercise and without flour. This came on the heels of fattening myself for two weeks back home in Texas, so I essentially started from zero. It is that simple. Don’t eat flour. Work out. You will not be able to keep on much excess weight.

2. The picture is displayed as a thumbnail because the full version includes frontal nudity. I do not know how to put an age gate on this blog and would be annoyed with legal repercussions if a curious kid stumbled on it while searching for Tang orange juice.

3. The shine on my lips is from petroleum jelly. I did not go down on anyone, although out-of-state rules technically should have been in effect. Once I finish scraping the bottom of a jar of Wal-Mart petroleum jelly that expired in Nov. 2007 (thumbnail in upper right), I will switch to a Burt’s Bees lip balm already waiting in the drawer.

The point of this example is that the beauty of a relationship lies in sharing silly, random and mundane experiences together. But then you find there is a lot less to share with everyone else. Thus, you have those friends who enter relationships and disappear from Earth. Others still show up, but as a shell of their former selves.

Going out with only couples makes me sick to my stomach. Even just having one single person in the group rescues the social dynamic. You need to have that pulse, that invigorating possibility somebody will have sex with somebody new. If there were no prospect of hooking up, bars and parties would consist of guys leaving after the game ends and girls showing up at midnight to dance in a circle.

I am not complaining. I am happy that people are happy with couples’ dinner parties, quadruple dates and trading baby pictures and gossip. I just want to point out that even positive change has its casualties, easy to forget when the rest of the world becomes a thumbnail that you don’t care to click.