And then it hits me: we could live like FAT rats if we were the blunt connection in Shermer, Illinois. So we collected some money we were owed and caught a bus. But you know what we found out when we got there? There IS no Shermer in Illinois. Movies are bullshit. – Jay, Dogma
To truly get the essence of what I’m going to talk about here, you have to take a simple test. Can you picture the sax player from Lost Boys? If so, you are a child of the 80s. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re old enough to yell at me to get off your lawn, or you’re young enough that I’m yelling at you to get off mine.
OK, so I really don’t blame John Hughes for making me fat. I blame other lesser-quality 80s movies. John Hughes is just the go-to guy for 80s teen angst. But while his movies had a higher quality than the average schlock, they still trafficked in the same easy cookie cutter stereotypes that the others did. Even the great barrier breaking Breakfast Club didn’t have a fat kid, except the one in the locker room narrative who has a name but no face.
Anyway, in the melodramatic narrative that was my adolescence, I fell for a simplistic way of thinking, that haunts me to this day. I’m nearly 40 years old, and yet the attitudes I had in middle school and high school have been a barrier to my progress in physical fitness. I talked about this before, the binary way of thinking: the idea that there are those who are good at sports, and then there’s the rest of us, and there’s no point in lifting weights or running or exercising if you can’t connect it to throwing a ball in a game that professionals get paid millions to do. Yeah, it’s a stupid idea, and on the conscious level an other wise reasonable intelligent person would see it as such. But on the subconscious level, it’s not so obviously stupid.
On a deeper level, it all goes to my continuing struggle to define what it is to be a man. (Cue the Boston song now.) Most of my mental struggles over the last decades have really boiled down to that question. What is masculinity? I tried so hard to define it against the dominant paradigm that I was reactionary to the point of being a real jerk about it. I don’t need to prove to the world that it’s ok to be a guy and not obsess over team sports. I can just be a guy who doesn’t. But that’s never been enough for me, and I still struggle to challenge myself when I can step back and see I’m wasting negative energy on hating things I should be indifferent about. I’ve been hanging on to the mentality of the middle school band geek who wasn’t going to be a sports guy, so I sought other ways to dominate and be competitive. I’m still fiercely competitive, seeking venues in which I can win. But in the process, I’ve had a huge chip on my shoulder that really needs to come off if I’m ever going to move forward as a person.
OK, this was supposed to be a well thought-out discussion of a move forward in thinking, but hey, this is teh interwebs. Half-ideas masquerading as profound truth are the order of the day. I’ll let Cracked magazine have the last word on this one. Here is page 2 of the article “5 Horrible Life Lessons Learned from Teen Movies.” #2 – If you’re good at sports, you’re probably a sociopath.