I wasn’t sure what to make of the brief message I received from Studio Chief’s wife. She was an actress who had worked with some brilliant directors, including Jim Jarmusch and David Fincher, and was unafraid to express herself. The thespian breed are usually undaunted by their lack of formal education, instead confident of the succor they provide to the masses who see them on the big or small screen. The e-mail was unadorned with any salutation, description, anything that might be termed politesse. It was simply a link to a dedicated website. The name contained two numerals and the words “girls” and “cup.” It had the faint ring of something illicit, quite possibly pornographic, though I wouldn’t say that she was in the habit of sending me off-color material. Call it Internet intuition, but a part of me speculated that it was, in the parlance of the digital age, “NSFW.”
I clicked on the underlined blue link and was taken to a website video. I clicked on “Play” and the show began innocently enough: two amorous lesbians in what appeared to be an archetypal office environment, one sitting in a chair, the other standing next to her, and they began engaging in a sapphic frolic. As an advocate for gay and lesbian rights and the free expression of same-sex affinities, I was fully comfortable viewing these two women, who obviously had strong feelings for one another, were operating with robust libidos, and were unashamed to profess their romantic inclinations. Then, unfortunately, and without any warning, the amative duo’s activities became, shall we say, extremely antagonistic to common decency.
A wormhole opened in the electronic cosmos. The video took a devastatingly scatological turn.
The series of activities that occurred next is perhaps best left unexplained. There exists on the Internet a cottage industry of videos capturing people’s reactions to the video. Some of these include musical homages. In one, Dan Lajoie, looking like a coffeehouse crooner of the Duncan Sheik mold, sings a song that explores the nature of love and what we do when conventional expressions can no longer capture the depth of our true emotions. Another features omnipresent pop artist / professional poseur John Mayer.
When I mass-forwarded the e-mail, the responses quickly filed in, to wit:
“My soul needs a bath.”
“I am going to scour my retinas now.”
“I am never opening a link you send me ever again.”
“You sonofabitch, I have kids.”
And, sadly, the most frequent: “I am going to kill you.”
The highly religious Captain, in particular, has a fragile sensibility when it comes to the ungoverned universe of the Internet. In a single moment of unsuspecting innocence, he clicked on a link I had sent him before the season started, a link titled “Lemonparty.” By innocuously depressing his mouse, he was sent to an image of supine geriatric men engaged in Roman activities that are probably best left to denizens of the Castro many, many decades younger. His rebuke was vociferous. I had also sent it to Studio Chief and his Actress Wife, both of whom, though jaded to most things that others might find shocking, were nonetheless duly appalled, and, whenever I drove to their house, they meted out justice by pelting me with lemons from a citrus tree by their front door. Both would hurl the sour fruit at me with equal vigor. I generally tried to stay in the car until I’d heard at least one thud, then I could only hope they would exhibit some mercy. I suppose the scatological link was her form of retaliation.
Sitting in my Herman Miller Aeron chair, peering at my laptop and waiting for my Bulls uniform to dry, I was reading yet another outraged response to the video I forwarded. In a strange bit of Buddhist connectivity, after checking the NBA site, I happened upon a report from the CDC identifying the most contaminated places in the home, of which the washing machine was one. I always selected “Hot” on my Maytag and, if possible, would use a lot of bleach, because I was a germophobe and, in the age of super staph and lesbians engaging in Internet behavior that wildly increases their risk of contracting hepatitis C, I think a little pathogen phobia is a good thing. The report stated that, in each load of laundry, there is an amount of fecal matter equivalent to the mass of one-third of a peanut. How the CDC determined that the peanut was the appropriate measure for human waste, I do not know.
Freshly laundered, I pulled on my shorts and jersey and headed over to the private-high-school gym for Game Two against the Milwaukee Bucks. The reality was that our starting five know how to play the game, no matter our athletic limitations. We have no point guard, none of us can jump, and we’re not quick. That said, we box out, hustle, play defense, and can shoot. And those things will keep you in almost any game. The problem is that our bench has too many players. Our second unit substitutes in and this often leads to trouble. The Bucks are a solid team, they have some real athletes, and, surprisingly, we stood toe to toe with them deep in the second half.
The game turned on a single call: we were down by 1 and the Bucks had the ball with under a minute left. Nightclub Promoter, formerly a soap actor, drove against me along the baseline and put up a floating runner. The ball was bouncing out when their center flew in and leapt up and reached his hand above the cylinder, gently touching the ball as it hovered over the rim on its way out. After his soft tap, the ball went in the basket and we all looked at the refs, incredulous that we didn’t hear a whistle for offensive goaltending. They didn’t make the call and we went down 3. We dribbled up the court and the Silver Fox, looking very fresh because of the writers’ strike, received the ball at the top of the key. I flashed wide open on the wing, ready for a 3-point look. Anxious, I called out to Silver Fox and couldn’t believe I was so open. He was harried by a defender, looked me off, spun, and was going to put up a shot, when the whistle blew. Travel! I never got a chance to take the shot and our fate was decided. It was a close game, closer than it should have been, given their athletic superiority, and we were now 1-1. It always hurts to lose, but to lose a winnable game feels like having the mass of a fraction of a peanut lurking about the metallic basin of my washing machine.