Friday, July 20, 2007
but who will be the banana in my cup?
i was warned before moving to ottawa that this city has a cultural obsession with ultimate frisbee. "it's not a matter whether you play ultimate," a friend told me, "it's how many teams you're on." she wasn't lying: ottawa is home not only to the world's largest bureaucracy, but also the world's largest ultimate frisbee league (of which i am now a part). i joined an ultimate team late in the season, thinking it would give me a chance to chase after a flying piece of plastic like a mad fool with other people chasing after a flying piece of plastic like mad fools, and somewhere in the process work up some endorphins, then go for beer. during my first game here, i learned that it's not that simple (nothing ever is). if you ever thought our national sport was hockey, think again: you're in ultimate country now, kid.
which must explain why my friend jared was so indignant the other day when talking about a recent experience during a post-game beer w/ his team. the server at the pub, noticing a pack of sweaty men drinking beer, was naturally curious about what could have gotten this pack of men so sweaty and thirsty. they explained that they'd just finished a game of ultimate, to which she replied, "oh, we were just talking about what's more gay: ultimate or rollerblading." and w/ that went her tip.
so there you have it, ultimate frisbee has finally gone the way of pansy-picking and rollerblading: to gayville.
i couldn't tell whether jared was more pissed that ultimate had been deemed "gay" in some beer-can-crushing, national-anthem-belching corner of the world, or that in that same corner, among others, "gay" was still a viable insult. i think some of the latter, but more of the former: maybe one depends on the other anyway.
when the people who decide what's "gay" gather in the lofty halls of heteropatriarchy, they seldom apply the pejorative to things gay men are actually known to do (or dumber straight men might swear off blow-jobs and rear-entry, and, um... cher and bathhouses). more often, anything "gay" or "queer" or whatever is just another way of saying feminized, pussified, wimpy, unmanly. you know, classic binaric masculine/feminine = good/bad = 'real' sport/'pussy' sport stuff...
so, what could possibly be 'unmanly' about ultimate? that the primary piece of equipment isn't a ball? no balls = gay? well, there goes hockey. that it's a non-contact sport? no wait, that would also pussify baseball and basketball. or is it not physically demanding enough? i'm in good shape, and based on the way i stagger off the field like a wounded animal after a game, i can assure you that's not the case. also, that would really gay-up golf. (another reason that's not a good test: ballet is one of the most difficult and demanding things you can do to your body - and notoriously pussified.)
by the way, it doesn't matter whether the gays actually play ultimate or not. lots of gay men play all kinds of sports - some out of the closet, some not, and some who would rather keep you guessing. and don't get me started on the lesbos.
how about this? according to the - as i've learned - extensive list of 'official' ultimate frisbee rules, there are two kinds of teams: women's only or co-ed. so, whenever 'official' ultimate is going on anywhere in the world, people with vaginas are playing. and any sport that a team consisting of half or all women can play must be gay (and all that that implies).
and if that's the case, i should take the opportunity here and now to congratulate ottawa on being, officially, the gayest place on earth.
on the other hand, since i believe in devil's advocacy: a common defensive strategy in ultimate is called the "cup" in which three players form, as it were, a cup around an offensive player on the opposite team. for reasons that have not been explained to me, the player in the central position in the cup is called the 'banana.' which means that at some point, someone on the field is going to have to yell "i'll be the banana in the cup!".... which is actually just really gay.