Blog: Effective Immediately

(originally written 1/28/16)

Delusion is quite the useful state. 


It's not a long-term solution to one's issues. It's not really a solution at all. More than anything, it's just the tourniquet over the bullet wound—it gets you through the immediate crisis, but you know at some point they're going to have to dig that slug out before you can move forward.


For most people of sound mind, delusion is, of course, only temporary. Either with or without a push from frustrated loved ones around us, or the emergence of cold, hard irrefutable facts, eventually we have to face reality.


Personally, three adult instances of refusing to wrap my mind around a truth until reality demanded it stand out...


The first came in 2009 when I knocked up my ex. For weeks our philosophy had been "Ok, let's get naked now, and whatever happens after will be dealt with at that time." This was a very poor approach for someone who'd gone his entire life vowing to never be a parent.


Throughout the pregnancy, I just kind of hoped the issue would...solve itself. Let me emphasize I never wished harm to her or the kid. But if my ex happened to split one night for parts unknown, not only would idiot 2009 Skillz not have executed a search—he would have celebrated. (Fortuantely that did not happen because I wound up loving my daughter very much.)


On the night of broken water, I was forced to finally face reality. Tough to avoid reality when it's in the form of an extremely pregnant woman who wasn't exactly svelte even before the pregnancy. But I'm not here to talk about the past.


Second (and far less consequential) instance: 2012, when One Life To Live was cancelled. Having watched this show for nearly 20 years, it felt like losing a relative. I could not and would not accept it was never coming back. Glimmers of hope would shine here and there, but eventually reality set in—OLTL was over.


Third instance: 2014, when a very good friend of mine simply stopped talking to me for no obvious reason. I tried to write it off as "She's just busy" or "She probably lost her phone". But after a damn year went by, I saw reality for what it was and moved on. (The whole depressing story can be found here.)


Tonight, a fourth instance came to be.


Throughout my life I was always more nimble and quick than the majority of guys my (massive) size, at least up until about two years ago. Regaining my limited athletic skillz were the main motivator for The Reduction 1.5 currently underway.


But that hasn't happened.
In fact, I've never been worse athletically—especially in hoops.


My once-average hops are now literally gone—I cannot jump flat-footed anymore. My body simply does not respond to the command from my brain. And I can't do much better with a running start. 


I've gone from nimble to plodding, unable to move quickly in any direction. My array of low-post moves are useless because I simply can’t generate the movements fast enough for them to be effective.  It's like Lou Gehrig disease without the actual disease.


How can it be that a year's worth of dieting and exercising has actually worsened me athletically? 


For months now I've deluded myself into believing if I only stretch a little more, consume a little less, invest in better shoes and practice often, it'll all come back. So I did all of that. And it hasn't helped in the slightest.


On Sunday, balling with friends, I was statuesque. Could. Not. Get. Loose. Guys went around me like I wasn't even there. Seven years ago, I could easily grab a 10-foot rim; now, I could barely rise above the bottom of the net. My offensive "moves" unfolded in slow-motion. It wasn't a bad game. It was a bad body. It was also quite embarrassing.


On Thursday, playing at our local gym—same result, exacerbated by playing with a bunch of quick, athletic youngsters. Shots rained in my face like never before. Blown past at every turn. Opponents already airborne snatching boards before I'd completed my jumping motion. Post moves? More like compost moves. I basically played the whole night with two tires stuck in the mud.


Afterward, it was time to face reality: I can't play anymore.


On that note, I've made the decision to retire from competitive basketball, effective immediately. 


I quit softball in fall 2014 for the same reasons and never looked back. I wasn't sad about that  choice and I'm not sad about this one. Though I’ll certainly miss meeting up on weekends and holidays with my crew as I’ve done about 10,000 times since 1994, it comes down to pride—there isn’t much fun in embarrassing oneself. 


Will I continue my b-ball exercise routine? Possibly. Doing so runs the risk of being invited into a competitive game, however, and guys who turn down competitive games for no obvious reason are often frowned upon...


BALLER 1: He say he don't wanna play. He must got somethin' against black people.
BALLER 2: Or Asians, since some of us are that.
BALLER 3: Or white folks, since we also represented here.
BALLER 2: I think he some kind of closeted homosexual.
BALLER 1: Dat fool just think he better than us.
BALLER 3: He just a stuck-up gay bigot!
BALLER 2: Let's get him!

 

...on second thought, biking's good, too!