Meet the Apes of Wrath, slash the people I've spent a ridiculous amount of time with here in Oklahoma thus far. This is our Ultimate Frisbee team, and this is what has made my college experience new and exciting.
BUT FIRST A DISCLAIMER. Dear anyone in this picture/affiliated with the Apes of Wrath. I recognize it's way weird that I just posted a picture of the team from last year up on my blog here, but, uh, I thought that was cooler than posting a picture of douche-with-no-name-bidding-for-a-disc. You guys are totally, 100% not the backround of my computer now, everybody calm down.
So when I was little I idolized my older brother Sean. I've totally grown out of that and surpassed him in every way imaginable except Mario Kart and being married, and I'm well on my way to besting him in both of those categories as well, but as a kid the 11 years between us translated to blind worship. One weekend Sean was back from college, he taught 7-year-old Conor how to throw a frisbee, and told lil' Conman about this wonderful sport called Ultimate Frisbee. If I remember correctly I was adept at frisbee from the moment I first picked up the disc. I usually remember correctly.
I played off and on as I grew up, and one of my high school pick up games was famously captured by a reporter's camera.
At the time this picture was a point of pride. Now I look at it and curse the error of my past ways. Let me highlight the mistakes featured in this picture.
1.) I am wearing jeans. I cannot be taken seriously if I show up in jeans. That's such a joke.
2.) I'm wearing a gray t-shirt. I don't know if 15-year-old Conor had noticed yet, but we sweat a lot, man. Wear clothing that doesn't highlight that. Black is good. White v-necks are possibly even worse, though. The V the V-Neck is so famous for deepens as it is weighed down by sweat, and more and more of your chest is revealed.
3.) My shoe's untied and I'm not wearing cleats. How will I make sharp, unrounded cuts without cleats? I laugh at my foolishness.
4.) That looks like a Wham-O disc. Not regulation. The council of elders would never stand for that.
As you can tell my criticism of stupid, less attractive past Conor, I am better now. I have improved. At the time of that picture, I wasn't aware of my deficiencies. I played with the class of '08 and '09 semi-frequently during the summers, and I was in like, the top fourth of players there. I was sitting pretty. I didn't realize you could actually be good at frisbee.
Turns out you can I guess.
My first day in Oklahoma, I ran into some guys throwing around a frisbee, all fellow freshmen. I started throwing around with them, and then we played a pickup game of ultimate. I was their king. They didn't really know how to play, and I dominated them. Ego Status = Normal. Unimpressed with my impressive skills, unwowed by the talent I was unable to contain.
The second day I spent in Oklahoma, I heard tell of some guys meeting at the intermural fields to the east of the dorms. I go out there and find a bunch of people throwing around. I introduce myself, and soon another pickup game of ultimate starts up. These guys know what they're doing. I have a hard time covering my guy and people other than me can throw. The game really takes it out of me, but I play pretty well. Ego Status = Optimistic. Maybe for once in my life, I will be pushed. Challenged. I rest easy with the knowledge that I will overcome this obstacle, like I have effortlessly obliterated all the obstacles in my life up to this point, but I appreciate it being there, all the same.
The very next day I am told of frisbee at the IM fields again. Confused, I head out there and what the fuck who are all these people. Turns out that the really good guys I had played with the day before were a church league. A church league. Here were the real players. I desperately look around, trying to find a player I am better than but there are none to be found. I play and I fail. After mercilessly beating me into the ground during the game, everyone smiles at me, asks me my name, encourages me to come out to the next practice on Tuesday. Ego Status =
It was actually strangely exciting. I went back on Tuesday, and got destroyed again, and walked back to the dorms tired, sweaty, and strangely excited. Everyday I went back and they did everything in their power to convince me that I was the worst player in the world, and everyday it didn't really bother me. I'm pretty insecure about a lot of things, and I no longer had to be insecure about my frisbee skills, because I had been taught the truth. I was pretty bad. So frisbee was not a struggle for power, I was not trying to impress anyone. I was trying to to get better at a sport I really really loved.
I'm going to stop writing in the past tense. I am trying to get better at a sport I really really love. And I am. I'm in better shape. I ran stadiums a week or two ago. Never thought I'd do that. I've gotten better. I can tell. I can tell because I'm hearing Con-Air screamed at me from the sidelines more often than my derogatory nickname, Ass Grenade, which apparently has no origin story. It was just assigned to me.
LET ME SHARE WITH YOU ALL MY NEW COOL FRISBEE LINGO.
D - Defense. Used as a noun and a verb. There are several subcategories of D, such as "skying" a fool (jumping up and catching a disc meant for him) or a layout d (diving in order to stop the disc from reaching the player it was meant for), but D is basically the most satisfying thing you can do in Ultimate. There's a great great tradition where if you D a guy super hard, you wipe the disc on him. It's basically the most humiliating way you can show him that he belongs to you short of peeing on him. When used as a verb, it's often extremely entertaining to imagine that D is short for dick. "Did you see me D that guy?" "I saw some good D back there, team. Keep it up."
Nasty - Good, worthy of praise. Usually preceded by an impressed "ooooh." Synonyms: Sick, Rad, Ballin'. "Oooooh, did you see that nasty d?" "Nasty."
Bid - Diving to catch a frisbee. Always encouraged, under any circumstances. When the opportunity for bidding presents itself, all bets are off. Fuck strategy. Fuck the horrible scrapes you will inevitably suffer if you unnecessarily bid all the time. Bid. Bid often and bid hard. I still need to work on my bidding. My bidding is more like a hesitant trip. I'm not dedicated enough. That's why I'm not in the big leagues, kids. "Yeah, I bid for this one point in the endzone and hurt it pretty bad. The doctor says a couple weeks if I'm lucky, 2 months if it heals badly."
The Worst - Pronounced "The woooooooorst." Used to describe anything that is undesirable. Extremely contagious. "Enjoy this blue shell, asshole." "The wooooorst." Oh yeah also I've been playing a lot of Mario Kart 64.
Chances are if you've talked to me in the past 2 months, I've mentioned frisbee, or something I did with the frisbee guys. That's because that's all I've been doing. Yeah. Where I was once a fully formed human being with multiple passions and interests, I have no devolved into someone who has based their whole life around one activity, and it's a SPORT. Who would've guessed. (not Eliot.) Sometimes I worry that I've fallen into a routine way too quickly, but sometimes I don't.
The frisbee guys are some of the friendliest, most welcoming people I've ever met, and certainly the one of most fun group of peeps I've had the pleasure of meeting here at OU. They've all welcomed me onto the team and many have welcomed me into their homes. They have given me their fried honey waffles they inexplicably made in the frier in one of their houses. They have driven me to concerts. They have tried and failed to beat me at Mario Kart. They have stuck me with baseless nicknames that I fear will never go away. They have mooched several meals off my meal plan. And I've had a great time.
I would write more, but I have to be at the IM fields tomorrow at 7:30 tomorrow to help set up for the frisbee tournament being played here in Norman this weekend. It's called Just Plain Nasty. I will be playing or watching frisbee for probably around 8 or 9 hours tomorrow. That's fine. That's what I want to be doing.