It's bizarre, this ridiculous world. We share our lives with one another in ways that defy the basic codes of privacy and personal space. But that's the way it is. I write a blog that is almost exclusively read by myself, but even still I can't pretend that there isn't an enormous world out there gaping at its own senselessness, wondering at times at how stupefying is the scope of human life, how bloated the need for human domination of the natural world, how awful the infinite dimensions of the universe by comparison. You can believe you are alone, but every thought, every word and deed has already had a precedent somewhere out there. Even if you don't believe in the Almighty, you are not alone in the universe.
I will now offer the crudest possible story to illustrate my point. One afternoon last year at work, I experienced a particularly uncomfortable churning sensation in my lower intestine that I instinctively recognized - experienced man of 38 that I was - as my body's signal to unburden itself of solid waste. The sensation was more dire than usual, so I made quickly for the restroom. The event itself requires no description. We have literally all been there before. In situations such as these, I often seek a facility removed from the more traveled restrooms on the first floor. The fact that these washrooms are marked "Faculty Men" is only a slight relief. As a boy, I lived in horror of using public restrooms. This neurosis grew into a cathartic meltdown when I needed to similarly act without hesitation in the toilet of the boys' locker room as a high school freshman after a particularly grueling cross country practice. The olfactory remnant of this event was greeted by the suddenly incoming varsity football team with horrific blasphemies and genuine promises to violently end my life. I was so mortified that I would have submitted had they caught me before I ran out of the locker room.
Back at work, after completing the necessary task, I left the Faculty Men's in a similarly condemned state. However, I quickly realized to my horror that a trusted, respected colleague was about to enter with his own intentions, not knowing what aromatic horror awaited him. We locked eyes, and, coward that I am, I was unable to communicate the truth that I had made the Faculty Men's Room an uninhabitable place of business. There are euphemistic phrases like those employed even in this very entry. But my own sense of shame, combined with my feelings of failure at being to keep this mortification to myself, left me without the ability to speak. I smiled wanly, pathetically, and walked on.
Naturally he found me later. I was sitting in the faculty lounge, grading. I could feel his eyes on me. There was nothing I could do but look up and say what needed to be said.
"I don't really know what to say," I said. "I really have no excuse. I'm sorry."
"Not at all," he said compassionately. He opened up the newspaper. "Although I do feel like I have a window into your soul."
* * *
What was I saying? Did I have a point here?
My wife asked me about the Jets' injury status in preseason and I answered, "We're fine. We're great. Pity the Giants, really." It was then that I immediately got word of Jesse Chatman being suspended for violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. The story on him was that he has a weight problem that disappeared while with Miami last year, hence giving him a second chance at a career. When you lose 60 pounds, how do you gain it back in all the right places? I myself suggest a diet of SSRI's and donuts. I don't know what Jesse did. His agent has pointed out that Chatman's positive test was from last December, not from a recent test.
But what's interesting is that the actual results only showed the presence of a diuretic often used to mask the presence of a steroid. It's probably not Ex-Lax. (Does Ex-Lax still exist)? Neither was it very likely coffee, oatmeal, McDonald's fries, cauliflower, watermelon, broccoli, Granny Smith apples, cigarettes, or any of the other things I find efficacious to my spastic colon on any given workday. I realize that the very thing that brings shame to a grown fallen-away Catholic man - the business of taking what a college roommate and fellow Jets fan once called a "Mark Duper" - is also essential to the maintenance of an athlete's weight and his masking of the rules of fair play.
But is the business surrounding this offensive diuretic also a window into Eric Mangini's secretive, isolating soul? After all, Chatman is being suspended for only four games. A friend of mine laughed off Chatman's suspension when I mentoned it to him - a natural response in an age when football players are shot, shot at and changing their names to "Ocho Cinco." It's only the four-game kind of suspension. Sort of like what the kids who've done hard time say when they react to a three-day suspension from school.
But did Mangini know the results of Chatman's December tests when he brought him on? Chatman did have an awesome game against the Eagles, but will he be similarly talented five weeks from now? Will he be flabby or thin? Does the coach know something we don't? If anything, maybe now among all three - Washington, Jones and the potentially modified Chatman - might equal one good running back.
I really haven't got any further cohesive theme to tie together this entry. I'm waiting on the final cuts of the preseason. I confess that the brief, stalwart performance Jesse Chatman put in against the Eagles threw me into sensations of hope for our backfield, and I feel like the news of his positive test left me in a catharsis that might yet spaz my colon a little more than Sumatra coffee. The volume of unrealized expectation and hope has built up so profoundly, that if it doesn't put me back into the crapper, it might yet make me bear the contents of my soul to my colleagues. It's what being a fan is all about. You cannot exist alone, harboring hopes and dreams, rooting for a team that plays in a division that also houses a club that could easily roll off another 18-1 season. It's no use hiding it. You have to perform your manly task and run the risk of exposing yourself to a world that will know the putrid truth. I am a Jets fan, though in exile. The very same colleague (and Eagles fan) who became the unfortunate witness to my intestinal ruin that sad day last year heard me complain yesterday about Chatman's failed diuretic test.
He smiled, obligingly. "Well," he said. "Tough shit, I guess."