My fiancée Anna wanted to know why famous men so often seem to cheat with women who look strikingly like their wives?

SportsCenter was dishing updates on the ongoing saga of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, who probably text-messaged pics of his semi-erect penis to a NFL public relations specialist named Jenn Sterger. The controversy had been going on for a week or more and was situated at the nexus of sports-talk and Anna’s gossip magazines, meaning the scandal was a thing we truly shared.

Despite our notions of higher virtue, neither of us could unglue ourselves from the scandal and its backstory: Favre’s star-crossed love of pain pills, his bouts of retirement that led him to the continual, inevitable realization he couldn’t retire. How he cried at all his press conferences, made big Deeply Southern tears that caused me nostalgia for my pretend, imagined South-land – this man who threw four touchdowns in a game he played the day after his father died, the sandlot virtuoso in his Wrangler Jeans performances.

I’d already called Favre, in a stupid German accent, My Hero of Indeterminacy, and briefly imagined the filming of a documentary by this title – some scenes of him in grainy footage, his hobbled, determined visage prowling the field-turf and offering a cursory glimpse into the debacle of football which itself derives from the debacle of masculinity.

The fact of the text-messages, and his half-mast, apparently ineffectual attempts to woo Sterger from a hotel room in New York City also weirdly added to Favre’s tragic mystique – the whole of him growing unforgivable while we watched and forgave him anyway.

 

And, it heartened me that in all of our attention to the scandal I detected from Anna a modicum of sympathy for Favre – a sympathy I was glad to find, where I might not expect it, as she extended it however subtly toward a rich, sexual-harrass-er.

With a hop, skip, and leap of mental dot-linking, I counted it as evidence that, should I need it, this same sympathy might be extended to me. Not that I planned to need it. It’s just that I recognized a general good in Anna’s vague Favre-compassion, which helped me consider this round-about truth: that in choosing a mate for long-term shacking-up, one might generally prefer a partner who is opposed to capital punishment over one who favors it. One would endeavor that his partner’s standing re: The Social Fabric might also trickle down into the most personal of sympathies, sympathy for one’s eternal, erotic life-friend, who will be at times heinous and woeful to his beloved.

May the TV and US Weekly continue to be instructional! Might we learn to do better by indulging them!

But, I digress.

Anna’s sensitivity to Favre was perhaps easier to come by because we’d recently exposed ourselves to the dick-pic on the internet.

And, if that was really his dick, it was a pretty small dick was what we concluded. It was crooked, too, as if 18 years of pro football had damaged it. We wondered if dick-size was a subtext of the whole scandal? After all the public waffling about whether or not to retire, after three of his teammates flew from Minnesota to Mississippi to recruit Favre for another year of football, now the emergent narrative surrounding a five megapixel capture of the man’s stunted, arched cock. The Small Crooked Dick of Indecisiveness. Even in the pictures, his playmaker seemed somehow unsure of itself. It seemed a reluctant pocket monster. We stared at our decade-old Magnavox and listened for double entendre on SportsCenter.

What SportsCenter did show were the highlights of the most recent game Favre played against the Patriots. He played with two fractures in his left ankle. His coach said his major concern was whether or not Favre could protect himself, and it seemed like he could actually die on the Astroturf in a gridiron re-dux of Point Break. He wore a shoe two sizes too big to accommodate the swelling and the taping. Then, after leading his team near to the Pats’ score-land, he took a shoulder to his chin and later received ten stitches. But, in the immediate aftermath, he just stood there, expressionless, in the center of the field, pressing his hand to his jaw where onlookers at first thought he was maybe only thinking hard. It wasn’t until he got to the sideline it became apparent he was bleeding.

 

 

Photo by pcutler

Jack Christian

Jack Christian

JACK CHRISTIAN is the author of Family System, which won the 2012 Colorado Poetry Prize. Other excerpts from “The Apartment on Market Street” have appeared in Carolina Quarterly and The Weeklings.
Jack Christian