Monday, April 22, 2013

This Post Is No Longer Trending

The following post was conceived while the sports-watching nation winced simultaneously as Kevin Ware broke his leg awkwardly and painfully during the NCAA Tournament. I never quite got back into my initial thoughts for my story in the aftermath of the incident that at the time was analyzed like the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination; as I’m easily distracted by life.   

It’s only been a few weeks but I barely remember the Final Four and after this past week’s focus on the chaos in and around Boston delving into the ramifications of one basketball player’s broken leg seems pointless.  I am in no way intending to make a grand statement on the fragility of an athlete’s career or to delve deeply into the comparison of the media’s focus on one athlete’s broken leg with the loss of limbs and life sustained in Boston. In fact I can assure you this is the last time I use the word delve in this story.

As I get back to the normality of my random pop culture thoughts I realize Kevin Ware’s injury is now as topical as Psy appearing in commercials running in March promoting his love of eating pistachios “gangam style.” Watching that ad about three months after his 15 minutes of “trending” viral fame had reached its crescendo, made him seem as relevant pop culturally as the Macarena guys, Dana Carvey’s George Bush Sr. impersonation or “The Noid.”

I personally spent a good portion of high school not going out on dates on Saturday nights, with the only benefit socially in college being an expertly honed ability to mimic all of Dana Carvey's impersonations. It’s a shame that I rarely find the opportunity now to break a lull in a conversation with a well timed- “Not gonnnnna doittttt. Not gonnnnna doitttt. I don’t think I’ll have another Keystone Light at this juncture. Bitter beer face is badddd. It’s badddd.”

I have spent the past 20 years or so making sure that I live a “Noid” free existence and this might have cost me a possible relationship or two along the way but it was well worth it. For those of you under 35, who have no idea what I’m talking about, the Noid was a demented claymation character in late’80s Dominos Pizza ads that for some reason was hell bent on ruining the inherent goodness of Dominos pizzas.

I don’t know how associating your brand of food with an annoying bug-like creature could possibly have been thought of as a great idea for an ad campaign; even if you’re thwarting the Noid's nefarious intentions and delivering Dominos pizzas to your target audience of overworked, single parent/ divorced households in Phoenix and anyone enrolled in college saving money for beer.  For one, the Noid resembled some sort of Ritalin addicted combination of the the Heat Meiser & Cold Meiser, with rabbit ears, except it only spoke in high-pitched mumbles (as opposed to catchy song and dance numbers.) He also wore a red costume and a mask for some reason as if the Noid was hiding his secret identity as Mark Mannix, mild mannered Metropolis food inspector. 

 Kevin Ware’s broken leg is probably only still being discussed this week in barber shops in Louisville in which Kevin Ware happens to be waiting in,  but it is still more relevant than the story I have been thinking about since the early ‘80s and will eventually devote the proper time and energy into. The working title is “Nellie Olson. TV’s First C**t.”  But, that is a subject for another day and now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Since my school had already been eliminated in the Sweet 16, as Arizona is historically prone to do and I did not fill out a bracket sheet with the other random assortment of freelancers/ med students/ 23-year- old girls having informational interviews with former sorority sisters, schizophrenics,  women knitting the hat current resting on their head, and Jews for Jesus members hanging out at Starbucks-  I was not watching the Louisville-Duke game when Kevin Ware suffered the gruesome bone break that was heard ‘round the world and unfortunately around the court.

I read about it on Facebook and started noticing the shocked comments building in rapid succession comparing it to when a rampaging Lawrence Taylor accidentally snapped Joe Theisman’s leg. The way Ware's leg twisted in almost cartoonish fashion as he landed awkwardly after jumping to attempt a block  made him look like a G.I. Joe doll  that was tossed against a wall by a hyper 8-year old.  It seemed the entire sports watching world was having a collective moment of shock and a guttural, physical repulsion that reminded me of Tone Loc wiping his tongue dry after noticing Ace Venture reveal Lt. Einhorn’s ‘winky.’

I am in no way trying to make light of the pain that a young basketball player suffered. I understand the physically and emotionally taxing road he has ahead of him in rehab and I hope he makes it back to the court. It’s the collective, seemingly primal reaction that everyone who saw it seemed to experience at once that made me take notice.  I was watching a replay with my girlfriend who has had her share of ankle sprains from a childhood spent dancing and she hid from the replay on the news like there was a mouse about to leap off the top of the TV.

I feel like anyone who has ever experienced any sort of sprain or broken bone in their life felt a psychological twinge of residual pain, like when a twin who lives across the country gets hit by lightening or stubs a toe really hard and the other twin feels a slight shiver down their spine while calmly washing dishes.

This is how the psychic twin phenomenon was presented to us in old sci fi movies and TV shows and what I’d like to believe is true but if extreme pain caused a slight shiver, wouldn’t an incredible, leg shaking orgasm of a woman in California illicit a goofy grin or a raised eyebrow from her twin drinking coffee in Seattle.  I’m not saying she should all of a sudden grab the hair of the guy serving her a frothy latte and hold on while she shakes the cup as coffee spills onto the table and her hand. But, if there was anything to this twin psychic mind meld, you’d see a lot more women and men smirking and saying “Hey now” for no apparent reason and this supposed phenomenon would have been proven a scientific fact long ago.

Does it make me a desensitized-to-violence, inhuman cyborg that I can watch footage of someone breaking their leg like Sea Biscuit and not want to immediately switch the channel to anything less abhorrent to the senses, such as a rerun of the show Yes Dear or a live E! News Special Report from Kim Kardashian's  uterus?  Besides muttering "Holy crap, that's fucked,” I still felt the need to watch it over-and-over again on YouTube to see just how awkward his landing was to cause that severe a break.  

Does that make me as analytically cold and removed as Dexter dissecting a corpse or Sheldon trying to dissect a human feeling on The Big Bang Theory? Am I doomed to wander the barren emotional wasteland of the NY dating scene again as my girlfriend re-evaluates her decision to share a bed with someone who purposely looks up footage of a man injuring himself that caused her to cringe in residual pain and hide under the covers?

Possibly my curiosity stemmed from the fact that I have never broken a bone or even sprained an ankle, so even though I can imagine what it must feel like it prompted more of a curiosity than a repulsion. I have been lucky in that my athletic prowess lies in my ability to play air hockey, which outside of a few bars in Edmonton, is a pretty much a non-contact sport.

There are many questions about the amazing power and frailty of the human body and mind that I will never answer. As for myself, my pain-filled curiosity was short-lived and my attention switched to other trending topics of the day that resonated with me for as long as it takes to read a few hash-tagged comments.

 I may have the occasional mildly sinful thought at inopportune times and in random places (like waiting on a line at CVS) but I’m a good person who loves his friends and family. One of the secrets to sanity surely has to be surrounding yourself with people who you don't find annoying.  Even though we can’t always avoid pain and suffering in life, isn’t it somewhat comforting to know that we can always avoid the Noid?  I think so.

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