I have a confession to make. This is just between us, ‘kay?
Last night I watched a show about some ultimate fighters and I liked it.
You have to understand: I hate fighting. I have never understood the appeal of watching someone get pounded, slapped, kicked, tossed or otherwise pummeled. Not interesting. In fact, I always found it to be a barbaric, disturbing form of “entertainment,” to the degree which I most certainly would judge you for enjoying it yourself.
I was painting, a tree in fact, a lyrical, almost childlike watery wash of tangled roots and spreading limbs rising from an ocean into a yellow sky. There was some show on in the background, a marketing calculation of fighters/entertainers, all with personae, costumes, tattoos. Totally stupid; nothing redeeming about it. Worst sort of pandering to inner and actual twelve year olds. These fighters were scouting for new blood and had found a tiny, densely compacted acrobat and…sit yourself down…a female. She was an ass-kicking “mixed martial arts” fighter. In my defense, this began as a personality driven “documentary,” which is more chick in its appeal than balls-out head slamming is. So I got snared with the narrative.
But then these bemasked asskickers got to the ring. It was absolutely compelling. My blood was pumping, heart stuttering; I caught myself, embarrassingly, punching the air several times. I’m here to testify: these kinds of antics used to turn my stomach.
This speaks to a fundamental change in brain dynamic. This wasn’t me “finally allowing myself to enjoy” some male enterprise. I hate this shit. And I was really into it. I felt none of the repulsion, none of the horror I typically experience when seeing someone take a fist to their face. What I’d always heretofore found disturbing I now was looking forward to seeing. The fighters got bloodied. They stood together and hugged it out after the fight and I found myself moved by their “good sportsmanship.” Yeesh.
Afterwards, while boxing-dancing to the fridge for post-slaughter prandials, I felt ill and chastened by a severe adrenal hangover. What had been an exquisite rush of power was now a human organ-fry. I was toxified, queasy.
None of my nausea, however was moral. My barometer of right and wrong had changed. I could not find it in me to respond with the same viscerally experienced respectable revulsion for one-on-one violence. Wasn’t there. Still isn’t, although I’m a tad mortified by having to record that I watched such a show (it feels like confessing to an admiration of Dog the Bounty Hunter - like, great, what’s next? Racial prejudice!? Fantastic!) much less soaked in its briny, Tag spray man juices.
I did an interior scan: had I really changed? In the mail today were my test results from the endocrinologist. “As you can see” she reports, too dry for the occasion, “ the testosterone level is right where it should be in the middle of the normal male range.”
Actually, I can’t see. I couldn’t box my way out of this blood report if it were wet. It makes absolutely no sense to me; “as you can see my ass” is what I should like to report back. But the tell is there, isn’t it? Hairs are growing on my thighs in an almost time-lapse photography way. I actually saw them, over the course of three days, emerge, sprout, and do the wave. Tiny dark hairs are populating my cheeks. I leg press 240 lbs. I enjoy watching people get pounded in the puss, and I don’t feel any particular way about that at all. I still cried this morning. I’m a huggy man, and I say “I love you” easily. I would say it to Robert Bly if we were in a drum circle together and I would mean it. I kind of want a muscle car. I feel more and more estranged from women, and that feels genuine and frankly, a bit of a relief. They never have made sense to me. Just remember, Sam, ass-kicking may have its transitory pleasures, but as global policy it’s a bad, bad idea. Now, I should like to witness Sarah Palin get taken down by a moose.