Sunday, January 24, 2010

Everything Fights

As the reality of post-Massachusetts backlash sets in, we turn inward this week, choosing to focus on the pleasures of hearth and home state rather than the absurdity of the national or international stage. After all, you're supposed to write about what you know, and increasingly it is obvious that I don't really know what country I'm in. The state to our south that produced Thoreau and Harvard has now come up with the poster child for the triumph of ignorance and bad taste, Scott Brown from Wrentham who drives a truck. Apparently that is all he needed to say to win.

But New Hampshire and it's winter pleasures - I know a thing or two about that, and here's a largely undiscovered trove for you - middle school wrestling tournaments. It's not for everyone, but as an immersion in what makes us tick, regardless of party allegiance, it's second to none. You get 200 kids and their parents and guardians singing the national anthem and then sharing bleachers for six or seven hours in a sweaty, stinking gymnasium. You get a cross section of physical types and facial hair, although this year I have seen a diminished evidence of lavish moustache and goatee to go along with the economic downturn. You get to talk to people you haven't talked to in about a year, the mother of a child on your kid's team separated from her husband, now with new boyfriend sporting obnoxious sweatshirt with the name of some California college emblazoned on the front. Then outside, getting some fresh air on a break from the action, the owner of the town pharmacy tells you she's looking at losing 40 percent of her business as the municipal employee's association negotiates for mail order contracts with some national retail chain. You get kids wrestling their hearts out, developing skills, resilience, and a respect for themselves, each other, and the coaches and other adults who cheer them on. You get all this, and at the end of the day, if you're lucky, you get to go home, you and your kid, to a dinner and reports of ice storms coming that might mean no school Monday and more time to write. Awesome.
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