What I learned from the 2009 US Open

These are the lessons I learned from this year’s US Open, in no particular order:

I’m not sure who, is it IBM, the USTA, CBS?, but someone has made a concerted effort to de-lesbianize Mary Carillo.

Carillo 07

Carillo Now

WTF? Why so many blonds this year? Was there some Flushing Meadows mandate that those with vaginas must, at the very least, carry a Clairol Frost and Tip kit?

2. Male commentators make the most idiotic proclamations when faced with zany events like motherhood:


“There’s nothing harder than coming back from having a baby,” in relation to Kim Clijsters wild card run to the finals. Really? Are you retarded? How about coming back from being stabbed in the shoulder by a crazed lunatic on the court in the middle of a game? [see Seles, Monica]. How about coming back after your father and coach basically beat you up after losing matches and you had to get a restraining order? [see Pierce, Mary].

Besides the extremes, what about a torn hamstring, a blown rotator cuff, chronic tendinitis in the wrist. A woman’s body is actually supposed to have kids, to reproduce. Hell, men are made for it too. Versus activities, like say, running around trying to hit a fuzzy 2 1/2 inch ball with a round mallet made of strings while 23,000 people watch.

Next up, “I don’t think we’ll ever see this again,” said by some other brain-dead commentator about Clijster’s post-preggers comeback. Huh? I guess with all this fitness and nutrition nonsense, and science and medicine coming up with more and better ways to improve every muscle in the human body, it’s just going to get harder for poor fat mothers disabled for life by the freakish act of pregnancy to play the game of tennis.

And finally, I learned from Serena Williams’ weak and unsportsmanlike meltdown on Saturday that the women’s game really must be played to five sets. Actually, I’ve been pretty obsessed with that for at least a decade, but Serena’s freak out kind of drove it home. With or without the foot fault, the bad call, or the defaulted point, Serena was gonna lose. Kim had outplayed her. So far.

But so far is soooo small in the women’s game. In a men’s match, 6-4 in the first, 2nd set 6-5 would be just getting your opponent on the ropes. The possibilities of finish are still open. I don’t know if the two out of three set standard is from the sexist past, or because the men’s serve and volley points used to be shorter or what. But these days, it’s just not an accurate measure of which player is better.

And what of Serena’s death-by-Wilson-enema threat? Donnell and I have been going back and forth about this all afternoon. Here’s my take: It was really, rilly uncool. Made her look weak, out of control and unprofessional. But let’s step back. Serena didn’t punch the ref in the face. She hasn’t been juicing for 10 years or systematically torturing dogs, et-cetera et-cetera. She got really pissed about a call, at the moment she was about to lose. She’s got too much experience and too many wins to be that outta control. It was tres uncool. Perhaps even loser-ish.

But in my mind, she was about to lose a game with barely enough time to play it. If it were three of five she wouldn’t have pulled that shit (umm… until maybe later). Unsportsmanlike. Not befitting a champion. Uncool. Really uncool. But more than that? Nah.

Youth is Pain

I saw two excellent HBO documentaries this Labor Day weekend, seemingly unrelated. On Sunday, Youth Knows No Pain and then The Last Truck: The Closing of a GM Plant on Monday.

The former is an exploration of the US’s cult of youth by way of Restalyn, Botox, eye lifts and a zillion other quasi-medical treatments to not look one’s age. It’s a pretty brilliant title. First off, all of these treatments are painful, how expensive they are is the least of which. But the result, to look younger, should take some of the pain of life — of being old — away, right? One of the youth-obsessed women quotes Nora Ephron: if I knew what I know now, I would have wore a bikini every day of my 26th year. Ha! Yes, I hear that sister.

The sage quoting Ephron here is Julia Allison who, when she was 26, read that and built a philosophy around it, Botoxing regularly among other age-defying procedures. She’s hot, true as blue. But as we see Julia’s derm stick needles in her face it’s clear that she’s a pathetic hot girl, obsessed with her looks, shallow, self-absorbed and myopic. She can barely look up from herself long enough to faintly disdain her best friend in the doctor’s office.

It’s true, youth is wasted on the young. But of all the things that youth wastes on the young, looks hardly make my top 10. Knowing what I know now I would have worked harder, been more honest with myself, respected myself more, demanded more from my friends, my lovers, demanded more from myself. Maybe I would have worn more bikinis too. No, actually Nora, I wore just the right amount of bikinis.

And then tonight, the doc about the GM plant. It’s winter in Dayton and the workers are red-faced, clad in down and work boots and unflattering jeans. Most of them cry on camera on the final day in the life of their plant. They take group photos with the last car on the line. The women don’t wear make up as they heave tools into their trucks. The men use the word love over and over. Dammit they’re OLD.

Maybe it’s because the subjects are filmed so lovingly here, they all are so fucking beautiful. And not beautiful in some nobility-of-the-proletariat way, though there’s that too. But they’re hot, sexy, vibrant. They work hard and have an emotional connection to their people, their lives. And clearly they have better sex than Julia Allison.