the pleasure of defeat.


ucla and unc lost in the final four today. when unc was down by fifteen points with less than two minutes to go, i asked my mom if she still wanted to continue watching the game. "of course," she said, "the agony of defeat."

i think we ought to teach our children the importance of losing. get them young. the bigger the defeat, the better. every game should be a blowout. that way, they'll be ready for the "real" world, in which they'll be better able to face the things they will begin losing: phone numbers, car keys, friends, their sight, and eventually, their hair, their teeth, their homes, their savings accounts, their dignity. prepare them for the losing battle against their boss, corporations, the government, etc. let them know that once they've lost everything, there will be nothing left to lose. and that's what freedom is all about.

in school, we lost more games than i can remember. i've re-watched some old j.v. basketball games, and boy, were we terrible. there are long segments on the tape where no one on our team scored. every shot, even if it was wide open, or a breakaway layup, seemed like a prayer. the funny thing was, practices always went well. i could hit three pointers when there was nothing at stake. our team seemed unstoppable at every practice, and we played our hearts out. but, for some reason, once the weekend game rolled around, we were a bunch of hacks. i know that for me, once the ref blew the whistle, and people in the stands were cheering, my arms and legs turned into jello, and i became unsure of every move.

i remember feeling angry or really defeated whenever we lost. and we lost a lot. both in soccer and in basketball. boys on my team, including myself, were the biggest sore losers you could find. right before the usual "good game, good game," slapping hands ritual with our opponents after a crushing loss, lucas cook said, "check it out," and he spat in his hand. i watched as his saliva transferred to the hands of the winners. i thought about doing it myself once or twice. hard to imagine that we were already so passive-aggressive at that age.

i liked recess/lunch games much more. they were kind of like practice, but nothing counted, so we could always play our best. still, things would get pretty heated. since i was tall, i was always matched up with anthony bellizzi. he yelled a lot and turned beet red whenever he was upset about something. once, dong, visibly upset with something anthony had done, threw the basketball at his head. "oooh, that hurt," anthony mocked. dong threw it again, harder this time, at his bulging stomach. anthony didn't say anything after that.

another time, we challenged the a-team. basically, our class was divided into three categories: rich white boys who made the a-team (noel being the only filipino, but, was he really?), poor minorities who played on the b-team, and the leftover poor white boys, who, i assume, watched wwf and went to monster truck shows on the weekend. there were definitely some white boys who didn't deserve to play on the a-team, and dong made a point of calling them out every chance he got. in fact, a boy named alex, who didn't even try out for the a-team because he was on crutches during tryouts, got a spot. i didn't really care, since i was inconsistent during games, and thus never saw myself as an a-team player. anyway, when we challenged the a-team, we lost. great, i thought, another win for the rich white kids.

it didn't matter, though, because once we got to high school, there were boys bigger and stronger than any of us. everything we had done up until that point was just worthless scrimmage. i decided i didn't want to play anymore. i didn't try out for anything. i like to think that, at the age of fourteen, i was already preparing myself for the pleasure of defeat.

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