Source: The Independent

Fighting The Good Fight

by Rick Murphy

October 16, 2013

“I like when you dress up in your little costume on Sundays,” Karen said.

I was stunned. After all, it’s not like I had a Zorro cape on – I wear that on Thursdays.

It’s not like I had a tutu on, though I do have a pair of ballerina slippers – only because the hard toe makes it, umm, easier to kick a football.

I had on a football jersey, gym pants, a sweatband, and a couple of wristbands. It’s not a costume or an outfit – it’s my Sunday uniform, I protested.

“You’re not on a team,” she said dismissively.

“Oh yeah? What about my Pluto China Cats? And The Scarlet Fire? And The Annihilator?” I asked, rattling off the names of some of my Fantasy Football teams.

“You should call it the Annoyinator,” she said with a smirk. “These are your fantasy teams – you don’t need to wear a uniform. You just do it because all the other football freaks do it on Sundays. You want to be like all the other jocks.”

She was totally wrong, of course. As I popped open a Bud Lite, grabbed a handful of Nachos, and studied the Papa John’s menu I bristled. How dare she think I’m one of the herd, a lemming, a face in the crowd, a fad-follower.

No sir, not me. When they made me they threw away the mold, I thought to myself. Yes indeedy, I am clearly a leader among men. Hell, I could have been a Captain in the Marines, except I can’t do push-ups. Hey, I was almost in the Armed Forces, except I checked “lesbian” on the application form at the draft board, even though I was a latent heterosexual at the time.

Those were scary times. I remember when the draft lottery came out like it was yesterday. I went and got the Daily News that night – the first edition of tomorrow’s paper used to come out around 9 PM the night before – and started at the bottom of the list #365, to see if my birthday was there. I slowly moved up the list. It was said probably the first 200 or so birthdays would be drafted, so I prayed to be somewhere in the back. One by one I scrolled up – I passed 200 and my heart sank. I passed 100 and I was in full panic mode. Finally, there it was -- #37. I was going to Nam.

It’s not that I was afraid to fight, mind you – after all, I am a leader among men. I just questioned my effectiveness in combat, considering my sister could literally beat me up.

I ended up going to take my physical at Fort Hamilton – it was just like the scene in Alice’s Restaurant. A bunch of us goons walked around in our underwear all day being subjected to all kinds of tests.

A decade earlier you could get out of the Army simply by stating you were a “homosexual” – in those days “Gay” meant you were happy. But it got to a point when that was no longer an excuse – one of the soldiers told the sergeant he was a homosexual when he was being drafted and Sarge replied, “Then you’ll love it in the Army because you’ll be taking showers with 40 guys.”

I failed every test miserably, even the hearing test – the guy kept asking, “Do you hear that? Do you hear that?” I had headphones on and there were beeping sounds. But no matter how loud they got I kept shouting “Huh? Huh?” My head was ringing for a week.

Later I walked by the hearing room and I heard a guy shouting “Huh? Huh?” and I realized we are all failing every test on purpose, and the army didn’t give a shit. The stupider, the better.

As it turned out I never did get drafted -- I felt I could better serve this great country of ours by smoking pot, listening to Led Zeppelin records, and going to Grateful Dead shows. By the way, the Deadheads no doubt considered me a leader among men, but they were too stoned to know it.

“I dare you to spend one Sunday – just one – with me, doing something other than watching football. I dare you.”

Ha! I had her. “How about that Sunday last June when we drove up to the North Fork?”

“How about we go somewhere next week?” Karen countered.

“I can’t. I have an important game,” I informed her. “The team needs me.” Maybe I wasn’t a soldier, but I was most certainly a man in uniform and a leader among men, even if they are make believe.

She kept it up all day Sunday. Finally, I gave up. I took off my uniform, climbed into my Batman jammies, and went to bed.