Sunday 8/29/10 3:57 P.M.
Perry Street Pier, NYC
My friend Art and I recently tried to determine the verb form of “therapy.” Turns out there isn’t one, at least not according to dictionary.com. There’s the adjective, “therapeutic,” and no verb. We can standardize, hospitalize, and fantasize, but apparently we have no way to provide therapy.
So, I will now curl into the figurative fetal to therapize myself.
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In nature, there’s safety in numbers. The ones who are on the fringe are usually among the first to get eaten. And while fitting in seems to be the norm for most people, I tend to buck trends and I don’t particularly like social groups.
I was’t always this way; in fact, as a young kid, I desperately wanted to fit in. The cool kids had the Pumas and Nikes, while mine were from Thom McCann or **gasp** Pathmark. They had the Mongoose and P.K. Ripper BMX bikes; I had a Team Murray. Their jeans were Sergio Valente and Jordache...
...my mother was still buying me Toughskins and Billy the Kids. In the 8th grade.
But my need to conform changed when I was thirteen years old. It was the end of fitting in, of seeking group approval, and the last time I let someone pick on me.
I grew up on Long Island. In the early 80s, rollerskating was popular and hockey was pretty huge because the local New York Islanders were winning championships. I was good at baseball and touch football, but I’d never tried hockey because I wasn’t exactly physically imposing. Hockey’s a tough sport.
While in my bedroom one afternoon, I could hear the scraping of hockey blades on asphalt over on Bea Avenue. Usually, I’d try to ignore it, but this time I decided to give it a try. So what if I wasn’t good? I was going to have a good time anyway. I was going to fit in. So I skated down our driveway, wearing maroon sweatpants, blue knee pads, a yellow and green hoodie, skates with orange wheels, and a very old and chewed up hockey stick with bright green tape covering it.
My fashion sense alone was enough to kick my own ass.
They told me to play defense. I stunk. Then they told me to play goalie. I stunk worse. My teammates weren’t very kind about it. Chris Lock even tried to beat me up, but I curled up in the fetal position, whereby he felt too sorry for me to keep going. Licking my proverbial wounds, I picked up my hockey stick and walked home. Standing in the garage where no one could see me, I cried. A lot. And right then and there, while looking at a speck of dried-up bird poop on the hood of my father’s car, I decided to never succumb to peer pressure, nor anyone who’d try to manipulate me into doing what they wanted, without regard for what I wanted for myself.
Pretty affirmative for a boy that age.
“Fitting in” for me really hasn’t changed much. While others are happy to follow the latest fashions, know the right people, even eat at prescribed restaurants, I usually base my choices on that which works best for me, whether or not that happens to coincide with what’s currently popular or expected. A beaten path may be easier to traverse, but it’s not always the most fun.
I host orgies for chrissake!
Soon after that day on Bea Avenue, I found a couple of new friends who loved playing street hockey. The three of us played every day, in the snow and rain, and as late as I was allowed to stay out. I got really good at playing hockey. The following fall, we played a game with those very same kids, on the same street. They were shocked at how good I’d become.
Soon enough, they all wanted to be on my team.
The Örgy Guy