When you almost knock someone out over a game of co-ed yuppie league floor hockey, you know it’s time to do something drastic.
Why did I fight a 35-year old man in short-shorts, pronation-supporting court shoes and wrap-around prescription goggles tonight? No reason. He was looking at me funny. He played the body a little too hard. Then again, so do I. The kicker came near the end of the game. He ran into the corner of our tennis-court-sized middle school gymnasium, nudging out one of the girls on our team.
There’s an unspoken rule in all coed sports; the guys give the girls an easier time. Nudging a guy is acceptable. Nudging a girl is not. I was a few feet away from them, so I ran up and gave him a good shove. He turned around and yelled, “What the hell was that?”
The entire gym – my team of twenty-something grad students and entry-level professionals, our middle-aged opponents, the teenager being paid ten bucks an hour to drop the puck at the start of the game and write down the score at the end – took notice. I threw my stick on the ground, took a step so I was right in his face and answered, “Take it easy on the girl, prick.”
He gave me a light push and said something I didn’t hear. I gave him a hard one and said something I don’t recall. The next thing I remember, he was picking himself up off the floor, and we were both being held back by our respective teams. All the girls were scared, the guys on edge. People started telling everyone to calm down. We played out the last five minutes without incident.
What’s the point of this story? It’s definitely not that I’m a bad-ass tough guy. It was just a fucking coed floor hockey game. In fact, there are two divisions of floor hockey in the league, recreational and competitive. We play rec.
The point is this: Men in their mid-twenties cannot spend 60 hours a week in coffee-fueled, halogen-lit TPS Report factories. We have spent hundreds of thousands of years fine-tuning our mental architecture for hunting, foraging, building. The hunger to create and discover is hard-wired into our souls.
Maybe this hunger can be channeled productively into entrepreneurship, sales, and craftsmanship. It cannot be channeled into work that, at the end of the day, we know deep down is completely meaningless. The result of this experiment in mass sedation is a generation of men running away from their lives, distracting themselves with TV, video games, porn, binge drinking, and the pride-fueled pursuit of unfulfilling sex with whatever they can scrape off the vodka-slicked dance floor at two AM.
I’m tired of the running, and tired of the self-deception.
I accept that my work has no meaning, and that I contribute nothing of value to society. I will wake up tomorrow, and spend the entire day pretending that what I do means anything to anyone. Yes, I fought someone over a sissy game of floor hockey. What the fuck else am I supposed to do?