Monday, May 10, 2010

"Sweating Bullets": The Heroic Tale of the Original "Life of the Party"

High Socks: Welcome back to the Big Show, Little Bro. Always a pleasure to have you in the neighborhood. Pretty good weekend, eh? Celts making things interesting versus your Cavs, a perfecto by the anonymous Dallas Braden out in Oakland, and several barbecues/parties surrounding the Mother's Day weekend. But me and you both know that going to a party isn't always such a simple exercise.

There are many things to take into account heading into the situation: what to wear, what not to wear, what to bring, when to get there. All of these factors must be considered with your full attention. But let's take a moment and focus on a frequent party guest that I know we both hold close to our hearts: "The Guy that Shows Up 100% Willing to Walk Out of the Festivities Three Hours Later Sopping Wet in his Own Sweat." I respect the hell out of this guy...and I know you do, too.

Low Socks
: Mind if I skip the introductions? It's late, I've watched a lot of television that I'd like to forget (Men's College Volleyball Finals), and those barbecues you speak of haven't treated me so kindly...if you get my drift. The guy that shows up to a party totally willing to schvitz is a guy I look up to; straight up to.

If it was up to "this guy," he would have you write down the athletic activities on the invitation after the "save the date" so he could prepare a change of clothes. But he understands that it's not appropriate to reveal beforehand that the upcoming wedding will be held one floor above a room with a fully-equipped ping pong table. It's true, my man will avoid the oppo-sex after the competition starts. How can you blame 'em? After a 21-18 war, I wouldn't want to be dragged to the dance floor for a round of "Snowballs," either.

High Socks
: Couldn't agree more. There are really two kinds of guys in this world.

One is the fella who shows up to a party or get-together simply to do just that...get together. He wants to engage in polite conversation, enjoy a leisurely meal with a couple mature beverages, and generally conduct himself in a perfectly acceptable adult manner. He is ever so careful not to walk too briskly at any point for fear of unleashing the slightest ounce of perspiration on his spotless well-tailored outfit. This guy wouldn't know a driveway game of pickup 3s if hit smacked him upside the head.

But then there's the other guy...our guy. This dude comes prepared for anything. Sure, he's decked out in appropriate party attire. And sure, he behaves respectably towards the other guests throughout the evening. But just say the word, and this guy's putting down the tea and crumpets for a Halex Three-Star and a double-elimination pong tourney in the scorching hot unfinished basement. Yeah, he knows there are no females down there. It doesn't concern him. He knows when a game or tournament comes calling at a party, you go. No questions asked. You may come back to the masses 45 minutes later looking like Ethan Hawke at the end of Training Day, but that's the breaks of the game. Survival of the Fittest means just that...even if you have to sweat through your grey Old Navy polo in the process.

Low Socks
: For me personally, it's all a matter of picking the right battles. Say I walk into a party and haven't introduced myself or been seen by everybody yet. I still look like a normal human, so I'll make my rounds working the room and shake a few more hands. I think I have an internal game clock in my head where a buzzer will sound when I think the party has reached its halfway mark.

At this point, I tell myself: "You've been polite...Now make things right." I walk over to the punch bowl, fill up, and find the nearest unfriendly competition: ping pong, 3-on-3, or mini-stick hockey. No looking back now: I'm sweaty and unsightly. You either show me a back way outta this place, or I'm pulling the fire alarm.

High Socks: Not sure if you could classify mini-stick hockey as a sweat-inducing activity, but I've seen you in action and I'm gonna take your word for it. This whole discussion brings to mind the old "Gym period early in the day" conundrum back in middle school. There was always the ongoing battle between the angel and devil on your shoulders as to how to handle that upcoming 75-minute block of time.

The Angel would whisper in your ear, "Relax, High Socks. It's early in the day. You showered no less than two hours ago, and you still have five more classes to go after this one. Change into the gym clothes, lollygag your way through a couple go patterns in Air Force Football, and peacefully move on with the rest of your day still resembling a civilized 13-year-old boy. It's the sensible thing to do."

But the Devil had other ideas. "Look, kid. I know you think it's a risk going full throttle in a gym class this early in the day. You're going to get overheated. You're going to start sweating profusely. And in all honesty, you will be dreadfully uncomfortable for the remainder of the day. And you can forget about putting that hooded sweatshirt back on after this is all over. It's going in your locker until the final bell; strictly "T-shirt or Bust" from this point forward. But it is the world we live in. Nothing good can come without a little suffering along the way. You're gonna go out to that football field and play each down like it's your last. You're gonna count to Five Apples in 2.3 seconds. You're gonna dive head first across the dew-soaked grass for a potentially game-winning bomb even if it means getting up after the play with a scrape job on the knee and a mouthful of sod. You're gonna win the game, trudge into that locker room, and change back into your school clothes that now look much different on you than they did at the beginning of the day. At that moment, you might question your previous hour of activity; the sweat, the tears, the blatantly illegal cut-block you threw to spring a big gain on the final drive. But take a look in the mirror. That's your bloodied face in the reflection; covered in a mound of perspiration, and an even bigger mountain of self respect.

Low Socks
: Here we go again...I sit down to have a peaceful conversation with you and it immediately takes an ugly turn. Angels? Devils? When did this talk become a forum for the "Good vs. Evil" debate? However, I do like your point and it is my belief that the age-old middle school controversy can be broken down into a simple word: experience. Like I said before, you have to know when to dial it up and when to ease off.

Before lunch, it's my opinion that there is way too much school left to be at any peak heart rate.

After lunch, but before band class, I can see where one might try and push their luck. I certainly could get away with it as I stood near the back, banging the drums.

My advice to those that are unable to make it past lunch without getting sickly in gym: don't bother showing up to class. Neither you or the teacher wants any part of all that. You may think the "cooling down" period will only take 15-20 minutos; but before you know it, you'll be caught in a small group round-table discussion about photosynthesis.

And Lord knows it ain't the plants absorbing the energy. It's you...

Drop a thought to the Socks Crew at

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