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Point of View: Where’s My Hair Shirt?

Wed, 10/04/2023 - 17:32

It was Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, though when I said to Mary I couldn’t think of any particularly egregious sins I’d committed in the year past, she suggested I run that by my tennis partners.

Where is my hair shirt? At the cleaners, you say . . . ? No, no, I could think of some things. With me it’s mostly sins of omission, failures of the spirit. Though enough with the navel-gazing. The Steelers won this week, beat the Raiders, so all’s well chez nous. I never can stay up beyond the first half, and while my son-in-law says I can record the second half of games, I choose to go to bed not knowing how they end so that I’ll have a reason to get up the next morning. Did they win? Did they lose. . . ? Did I get an orange . . . a lump of coal? It’s a bit like Christmas. Aside: I wonder if my son-in-law, a Denver Broncos fan, recorded the second half of their recent 70-20 loss to the Dolphins? Just kidding, just kidding. . . .

Watching people — very well paid, but still — running at each other like careening trucks while safe in the comfort of one’s own home is, I’ll admit, probably something to atone for, especially now that we know repeated hits in the head aren’t good for you in the long run, not to mention sometimes in the short run. Yet football, as our late editor, who didn’t like it, once said in urging that the twice-defeated 1978-79 East Hampton school budget be approved, is “as American as apple pie.”

This guilty American bystander is drawn — against his better judgment — to combative engagements. They keep the blood flowing, and the gorge rising. There’s the tribal stuff too: Pittsburgh/Bonac against the world. We’ll not be ground down. . . . “When the sons of Eli break through the line, that is the sign we hail. . . .”

Combativeness is embedded in the American psyche, I think. One wants to keep a lid on it — or, if it’s tennis, a net in front of it. One wants to rein it in . . . as in “fight fiercely, Harvard, fight, fight, fight, let’s not be rough though. . . .” Yet it’s there.

Meanwhile, Mary has reminded me that Monday was the International Day of Nonviolence.

I wonder who’s playing that night. . . ? Ah, Seattle and the Giants!


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