Thursday, July 8, 2004

Warning: Contains Adult Content

Memo to the Midwest: STILL DUMB.
Even after a decade, my love-hate relationship with the Midwest continues. Actually, it's more of a hate-hate relationship in which, as long as I stay within specific urban-suburban areas of normal civilization, I'm OK, and anytime I encounter Actual Midwesternness, then the hate shines through.
The cream cheese wonton is, to me, the essence of everything that is wrong with the Midwest. The traditional pork fried wonton is a bit of an enigma. I'm not saying it's Authentic Ethnic Cuisine as such, but at least you've got Meat of Dubious Origin and Unfamiliar Spices in your folded, fried bundle. So we hit the Midwest, and what do they do? Take out that filling and replace it with plain white dairygoo. I mean, I like cheese too, but in the Midwest, it's like they never want to be caught outside reaching-distance of a spot of the ol' cowspunk. So a cuisine pretty much entirely sans cheese ends up with an unavoidable appetizer monstrosity, a crime against nature on every menu in town.
The problem with the Midwest, thus, is that whenever some interesting concept comes along, the locals embrace it, take out anything interesting about it, then fill the resulting cavity with bland whiteness. And so it is with the concept o "people getting together to engage in athletic activity", which, around here, has somehow led to... Adult Kickball.
I am not fucking kidding with you here. There's a whole story about it and everything. Adult Kickball games. Adult Kickball teams. With team names. Adult Kickball LEAGUES. Adult. Kickball. Kickball, like "diaper" or "video", is one of those words that SHOULD become slightly embarassing when paired with "adult". Something you'd rather not exhibit in public. But not here! Adult Kickball is the big thing amongst the suburban family approaching-middle-age types. I hate the Midwest so very much.
Kickball is not a sport. It's barely a game. Kickball is what you force nine-year-olds to do for 45 minutes if (A) it is raining, (B) you are nursing a wicked fucking hangover, (C) you are a sadistic gym teacher, and (D) all of the above. It is not the kind of thing people in a major metropolitan area should be rediscovering to occupy their evenings. If you ever find yourself uttering the words "Adult kickball? Sounds like fun! What time?", that is a sign that you have not adequately explored your personal entertainment options.
What's the appeal of adult kickball? Well, to describe that, I'll have to check with the Naval Observatory Atomic Clock, figure out when ACTUAL QUOTE TIME is in Greenwich, subtract six hours to shift into the Stupid Fucking Midwestern Time Zone, adjust for daylight savings... and yes, it turns out, it's still ACTUAL QUOTE TIME.
"It's an adult sport where maybe 100 percent of the players wouldn't be comfortable playing softball. Kickball hit a certain niche perfectly." - Pat Barbatsis, co-owner of Cities Sports Connection, who runs one of two different kickball leagues that, together, expect to have SEVENTY TEAMS by fall. At a minimum of seven people per team, that "niche" adds up to four hundred and ninety lame-ass Midwester cowpeople lining up to take their tepid swipes at the red rubber pankball.
"With softball, you feel like you're either good at it or bad at it. It's all fair game with kickball." - Grace Cavanaugh, who overcame her innate, Darwinian distrust of the adult kickball concept and now lives in thrall to her weekly dose of bocce-without-the-skill-element.
"I have a knee injury that basically doesn't allow me to turn right without pain. It was a chance to be active again." - Johnnie Workman, proud owner of the Best Possible Excuse For Playing Adult Kickball. And his excuse still sucks. We tried to reach his team's coach, Derek Zoolander, but he refused to comment.
You wanna know how bad it's gotten? You can actually choose to join a league that ALLOWS pitchers to spin the ball, and one that PROHIBITS IT. One can only hope that either a Hatfield-McCoy relationship develops over time, or, even better, the kickballers go out like good cultists - committing mass suicide after cutting off their own testicles. Let's keep our fingers crossed.