Monday, January 3, 2011

Emasculating the new year one Christmas gift at a time

For those of you who have already lost count, today is January 3, 2011.  Every year at this time, I find myself doing three things....crossing out and rewriting the correct year on every flipping check I write for the next two months, making a resolution of just how much I'm going to ride the trainer that will last the next 72 hours, and earnestly commiting myself to using whatever gifts I was given for Christmas.  The last item comes in direct response to what happened to me one Christmas many years ago.  It was 1995, and that year, every male member of my family received from an old aunt in Baltimore, an autographed, commemorative Cal Ripken Jr. baseball issued for the game in which he broke Lou Gehrig's record of consecutive games played.  That Christmas morning, I sat close to the Christmas tree, surrounded by packages and watched with eager anticipation as my father, cousin and  brother-in-law all opened up identical square packages.  In the year prior, we had all watched Ripken slowly approach the record and were on the phone with one another the night that he passed Gehrig's seemingly insurmountable display of athletic commitment which captivated the attention of baseball fans everwhere.  Our aunt was quite aware of our collective fascination with Ripken's odyssey and clearly had decided to reward our fandom while simultaneously displaying pride for her own hometown of Baltimore.  As the wrapping paper was ripped away from cardboard boxes, the interiors of those boxes revealed acrylic cases holding pristinely-stitched, MLB regulation baseballs with the number 2,131 printed over the Orioles logo signifying Ripken's record. 

In my own lap rested an identically-sized box, still wrapped.  I tore off the wrapping paper eagerly anticipating finding the same leather talisman of what I considered to be a true American athletic legend; the man that was nick-named "Iron Man," who played all 21 seasons of his career with the same team, a throwback to when athletes actually could be role models. The foil wrapping paper fell free from the cardboard box which I opened quickly.  Inside, was not a baseball in a clear case, but rather a glass butter dish decorated with glued-on, purple-tinted glass grapes.  Silence fell upon the room, and I could have sworn I heard someone abruptly drag the needle across the Burl Ives record playing "Have a Holly-Jolly Christmas!" A couple of weeks later, when I took my Christmas tree to the recycling center, I also visited the adjoining landfill.  As I stood on a small dirt hill that rose above the expansive field of waste, I took from my coat pocket the butter dish.  It felt heavy and awkwardly large in my hand, not at all conducive to the shape of something that can be thrown well or far.  Nonetheless, I have to say that it demonstrated a suprising amount of lift as it carried over the discarded washing machines and radiators and made a genuinely satisfying sound as it connected with something large and metallic.  Perhaps this is not how my aunt had intended I use the dish, but I never would have obtained such pleasure from it any other way.

All of that said, THIS year's haul was quite different, and I truly think I'm going to get some great use out of this little baby.

Anyway - onto more cycling related matters.  Just a few things today.  If you've not been keeping track, there is a growing concern over the altered evolution of professional cyclists according to Mario Cipollini.  Yes, yes, I know it's old news by now - but a recent photograph released and published over at the Cycling Inquisition has shed some light onto why Cipollini might have made his recent comments....
It's called gynecomastia, Mario, and is nothing to be ashamed of.

And for what is certain to be a display of pure, unadulterated, non-emasculated cycling machismo, mark your calendars for January 16th which is the Cancer Council Classic warm-up criterium for this year's Tour Down Under.  Of particular note is the number of sprinters that will be making the journey down under; the most spectacular showdown certainly to be between Mark Cavendish and ex-teammate, but persistent rival, Andre Greipel, now racing for Omega Pharma.  Greipel better know what he is in for as Cavendouch has already been practicing some new finish line poses.....this one proves to be especially menacing....
"Do you see me thrusting my pelvis at you Andre?  Are you ready for the Manx Missile?"

"You know you want it."

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