One can never have enough posts about bocce. It's a breezy, outdoorsy sport, and can get you in the good graces of not a few Italian octogenarians. Which is another thing you can never have enough of. For some reason people from the Old World seem to hold the secrets to all things 'authentic'. Large, all-encompassing ideas like 'masculinity', and 'what it means to be a man', perhaps 'the proper way to fold your formal slacks'.
This generation -- and by this generation, I mean the swath of people who speak sarcasm as a first language, sincerity as a distant third, and tend to speak most of their time in permanent air quotes-- longs for things that are genuine and authentic. Maybe that's why the men of this generation love the Godfather so much. There is a code, there's honour, there's brutal killing in the name of family loyalty. What guy doesnt' want that?
And so maybe that's why my work was drawn to bocce. A way to get in touch with the Old World. Even if the Old World wasn't exactly my Old World, you take authenticity where you can get it.
Our team, which consisted of four people (two which play any one match), all assuredly not Old World, all assuredly speaking almost exclusively in air quotes, had climbed to near the top of the tournament. Through guile and a few lucky arbitrary bounces from exposed roots, we had made it to the semis.
Now, I wasn't playing, no, I was in charge of organizing it, which is another story for another time. There were many emails exchanged. Not a small amount of trash talking. This was bad karma. As Lady Justice would have it, the people who I so unjustly made fun of were near pro level. I think they practiced. I wouldn't be surprised if the older gent had a small endorsement deal with a seer sucker pants company. Maybe a small print ad in Competitive Bocce Quarterly.
But hell, the boys we fielded were strapping lads. Known to play a game or three of hockey. A sport singularly known for allowing fighting and only getting really upset at the violence when people go paralyzed. Players of such a sport could surely give any mere bocce player a run for their money? Not so much.
To make matters more.. uhm.. compliant to our winning, when it was our teams turn to set up the target, we would HURL the target UPHILL as far as we possible could. One of the opponents, it appeared, was not overly gifted in the upper body strength department.
Even this shady tactic didn't work.
The Cup for the bocce tournament was not meant to be ours. I think we might have bro-- ok, I might have broken some unspoken rules about trash talking opponents I don't even know over email. What can I say? I was egged. Or I was bored. Either one. And then the team that we fielded held less than stellar ethical concerns over an intramural work bocce tournament. I guess playing a game where hitting is expected tends to dull finer sensibilities.
In the end, I think the gods of the Old World taught this little worker-bee something authentic about sportsmanship.
When do we get to whack people?