I’m the mother of three sons and I don’t usually get involved, or show much interest, when they discuss Fantasy Football; but when my son, Jack, revealed at dinner that he’d be waxing one of his legs, I got real curious. “What? Why?” I asked.
“I lost,” Jack said.
Fantasy Football is a competition in which participants select imaginary teams in a draft. You get points according to the performance of real NFL football players.
According to Jack, his league consists of ten guys, the draft is the best, most fun, day of his year, and since he lost this season, nine people (including his younger brother, Richard) will be waxing one of his hairy (may I add- very hairy) legs right after Labor Day weekend.
As his mother, I find this unimaginable and I don’t know which is worse: the idea of him incurring all that pain or the fact that I have to carry this burden for another seven months.
In contrast, Richard can’t wait.
“What do you mean?” I ask, incredulously. “He’s your brother. How could you want to hurt your brother?”
The smile on Richard’s face is as wide as I’ve ever seen it.
“I won’t make a sound,” Jack promises.
“Good move,” my youngest son, Michael, says. “You can’t give them the satisfaction.”
(Mind you, Michael is in his own league where the loser has to wear a crop top and sing on the subway, to the tune of Por Ti Volare, I’m a loser, a fantasy football loser.)
Richard tells us he’s got the situation under control after having just waxed last year’s loser. He describes the waxing kit he bought. He tells us how he will microwave the wax and once it's soft, he'll use a Popsicle stick to spread it.
Having had my fair share of waxes, upon hearing this, my stomach flips.
“You pull the strip the same way the hair grows,” Richard says, coolly, as if he’s been professionally waxing people his entire life.
My daughter who has also had her fair share of waxes says, “I think you pull against the way the hair grows.”
Richard laughs and says, “Maybe. I forgot. I should re-read the directions.”
Jack, now thinking about all this, considers waxing his chest instead. It's part of the rules- he gets to choose. But after hearing Richard talk about his waxing skills, I panic. "Don't let them wax over your nipples," I say to Jack in all seriousness.
My daughter can hardly catch her breath. "Now that's a line you never thought you'd hear your mother say."
It’s all a big game, part of the boy fun. And I don’t get it. So I keep asking questions.
The league has a Winner’s Belt. And it is coveted. The winner gets to keep it for a year.
Of course, there is money to be won or lost; but this gaming is about something more. Pride is on the line. They have names like The Over Lord and King Tut.
It’s a battle of “virtual” rivals because in fact these ten young men have been best friends and “playing” together since they were small.
As a woman, I find it fascinating how these males have created high stakes, including much intensity, adrenal rushes, and a sort of a battlefield where there are winners and losers—big time losers—and plenty of humiliation.
As a mother, I have thought of every way possible to get Jack out of this mess or to lessen his pain.
But he’s cool, not thinking twice about it.
He's taking it like a man.