Monday, September 12, 2005

The boys' club

I took Anna to the park on Friday night after work (and after I'd napped--going into work at 6AM always stretches me to my limit consciousness-wise.) It's a fun park to go to--just around the block from our house and there's almost always neighborhood kids there for Anna to play with. Well, on Friday night, it must have been "Dads take their kids to the park night" because that's all that were there--fathers taking their kids to the park. And initially, it was kind of cool, but ultimately, it made me feel sad.

It was so cool but so disheartening the way that the other dads just casually drifted into conversation with each other, while I remained on the sidelines. I've never had very much luck bonding with other dads in social situations but this experience just solidified it in my mind. This stems primarily from my complete and utter inability to talk about sports. It's not that I'm just not that into it, I just don't give a shit about it. The only sports event that even remotely piques my interest is the Iowa-Iowa State football game (which was this last weekend) and that's mostly from living 33 years in Iowa.

As I followed followed Anna around the playground, sticking closely to the perimeter so as not to affect her interaction with the kids, I overheard the conversation that two of the dads were having--and sure enough, it had to do with sports (talk of rugby in England) and beer. I sighed a little bit because it was as I had expected. And it's not that I think I'm all holier-than-thou and above all that conversation. I'm not even expecting "deep and meaningful" conversation. I just wish that masculinity was defined by sports and alcohol--something I refer to as "the boys' club."

The boys' club is one of the reasons I'm so glad I work with women by and large. I'm not expected to know the score of the latest game and macho posturing is kept largely to a minimum. And this exclusive club has its roots clear back in high school--I realized a few years ago that I'd been trying (in vain) to fit in with something that I simply cannot.

That realization is freeing, but it's also a little bit sad and a little bit frustrating. But mostly, it frees me to be who I am with no apologies.

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