Sport

sport
"Diversity usually first appears as someone else
deliberately acting weird."

Sometimes, an otherwise pink-blooming rose will bear a white blossom. Botanists refer to these oddball blooms as "sports," and botanists propagate the ones exhibiting desirable traits to produce new cultivars. Sometimes, a new cultivar will revert back to the original's characteristics. Families produce the occasional sport offspring like me. The Muse insists that I could not possibly have come from the family I hail from, even though I have been known to sometimes revert back into exhibiting precisely the traits common to the rest of my siblings. Every child is unique in some way, but most at least bloom in the same color as their siblings. I'm apparently an exception.

I didn't ask to bloom differently.
I didn't at first aspire to stand out in that family station wagon. I just seemed to approach things differently. Eventually, I found myself playing up these differences. I figured that if I couldn't beat the rap, I might as well amplify it. I was the one who actually ate the mushrooms growing on the front lawn. The family meme insisted that "David is weird." I couldn't disagree with this characterization, though I had no idea why I'd been chosen to fulfill this role.

Even knowing myself as the family sport fails to inoculate me against repeatedly rediscovering my role. An innocent attempt to help might be easily misinterpreted as me trying to impose my preferences because what seems normal to me apparently doesn't seem all that normal to others. I catch myself force-feeding others sometimes, or appearing to. How was I supposed to know that my preference for a gooey-tender, slow-braised cut of beef would not be shared by the one person I'd cooked it to satisfy? A shame-faced supper results, with her valiantly failing to separate collagen from flesh while I belatedly recognize that David is indeed still weird (again.) I might have caught myself inflicting myself before the actual commission of the crime, but I swear I do not know how I might have managed to intervene on my own behalf beforehand.

The Muse, as loyal spouse, sometimes intervenes before my judgement proves inadequate, for how else would I ever know? I remain baffled about how others manage to intuit what might delight others. They seem to possess an ability to read minds that remains eternally inaccessible to my own meager powers of perception. I might at any time spout some idea that, unbeknownst to me, seems only in retrospect to be especially designed to offend. Once, in a workshop working group, I innocently (or was it ignorantly?) introduced myself to a group of Organizational Change Consultants as someone who didn't believe in organizations. My proclamation deeply offended some in the group who, I later learned, believed that I had purposefully tried to offend them. Whatever my initiating intentions, I was summarily pecked out of the group as they insisted that I admit my nefarious intentions as the price of continued membership. I wouldn't submit only because I couldn't honestly admit to attempting to deliberately offend anybody.

The Muse and I decided to create our own working group, an act the original group took further offense at. I became, many Sports might readily recognize, damned whatever I did. I spent the best part of one day of the workshop locked in my hotel room while Organizational Change Consultants knocked on my door, pleading with me to submit to what they promised would be a painless reformation. I crouched terrified behind that door before The Muse proposed that we just muster our own group. The workshop ended with a carefully choreographed exercise designed to finally coerce me into apologizing to those I'd so innocently (or was it ignorantly?) offended. I managed to resist the coercion for an uncomfortable hour or so before finally, very belatedly recognizing that I could relent more easily than they could accept that they had somehow offended themselves and transferred that act onto the conveniently-located sport in the group. I seem to continually find myself the object of others' attempts to fix an eternally unfixable past. I'm deeply troubled by this, even sometimes sorry, but I consider these errors of innocent (or ignorant?) omission, fingerprint-less crimes, if crimes at all.

Sports live lives under a mysterious suspicion. It apparently seems to others that we quite deliberately set out to offend them, as if we're actually gremlins rather than just a tad more clueless than those who, through no action themselves, managed somehow to bloom the right color for their cultivar. Attempts to pass for pink prove useless when one's petals so obviously scream white. No resolving explanation works because no argument could possibly resolve such a subtly glaring difference. Our difference seems to define us by informing us only
after every infraction.

Some insist that being a sport amounts to a kind of genius, though few sports would readily agree. We seem to ourselves simply left-handed in a right-handed world, an inconveniencing accident of birth, with which we cope rather ineptly. I'm fairly confident that we cannot be reformed, for we are simply what we are. If this admission seems like a cop out to you, consider the story passed down from The Muse's mom who, assisting in an elementary school classroom, was introduced to the designated dunce of the class, a kid who reportedly refused to learn. The teacher had tied his left arm behind his back to encourage him to write properly, an intervention that had simply shut down this sport. The Muse's mom untied the dunce's arm and he quickly mastered writing wrong, an act that offended the teacher but delighted the dunce and The Muse's mom.

Diversity usually first appears as someone else deliberately acting weird. How we react to that weirdness seems to say more about us than it ever does about the designated dunce.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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