Jeff Pearlman

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Kotex

kotex ultra compact_LRG

A couple of months ago, right before New York was rewarded the 2014 Super Bowl, I received an especially nasty letter from someone who called me a “Kotex” for thinking the weather would be too cold for the big event. I don’t remember the bulk of his note, but it was nasty and vile and truly pissed me off. Generally speaking, I dig e-mails. Even if they disagree or rip, most of the time it’s fun and cool and no biggie.

This one, however, was gross and lowly.

Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago I met a guy in Starbucks. I was working, and he approached and said he knew who I was; that he’d read my Mets book. I was flattered. He seemed like a decent guy; there with his wife and two children. We chatted a bit, then they eventually departed.

Turns out that guy, by pure coincidence, was the person who wrote the infamous (to me) Kotex note. He was the one. I know this because, a few days ago, he sent me an e-mail, admitting such. I replied quickly, said it was no big deal, etc … etc. But then, earlier today, I started thinking about it.

To begin with, this guy had a daughter. A young daughter. As do I. The idea of referring to anyone as a “Kotex,” well, it doesn’t exist to me. Wouldn’t even cross my mind. A. Because it’s a nasty thing to say; B. Because it’s basically calling a guy a girl—ha, ha. Ho, ho. Which is, I guess, an insult. Ha, ha, ho, ho. But, uh, you have a girl. Who, I imagine, you want to grow up strong and self confident; who you want to gift a belief that she can accomplish anything.

But there’s more than that. This guy was a Giants fan. A dye-in-the-wool Giants fan. One who never misses a game. Ever. One who will certainly ignore his wife and kids on Sundays for the Big Blue. Junior has a birthday party? Not my problem. It’s a beautiful day outside? Eh … can’t do it. Eagles are in town! Wife is tired and stressed. Honey, you knew what you were getting into. In my world, there’s a word for sports-over-everything guys like this, and it is: Anuses. Seriously, it’s my least-favorite breed of men. The guys camped out in the stadium parking lot roasting dogs and getting wasted while their families remain at home, embarrassingly shrugging off the repeated slight (Wife: “Well, you know how he is.”). I dig a good game as much as the next person. But, unless I’m actually working, I refuse to miss my kids’ lives in the name of a friggin’ sporting event. E-v-e-r. If my daughter and/or son eventually want to sit down and watch, oh, Jets-Pats together, I’d be thrilled. But they show no interest, and, truthfully, I’m even more thrilled. Because while spectator sports are enjoyable, they’re not as enjoyable as actually living. Doing something. Running. Jumping. Dancing. Laughing.

And that, to me, is the irony here. I have been labeled a Kotex by an apparently half-attentive father who (as he admitted to me) refuses to miss a game. Ever, ever, ever, ever.

A word of advice, MC: One day, your kids will grow up. They’ll remember who was there, who wasn’t there, and the priorities behind the actions. There’ll be missed ballet recitals, missed trips to Central Park, missed picnics and shows. Why? Because Daddy had to go with his buds to the Giants game.

Which, in the ultimate tasty twist, this guy likely won’t remember. Because the majority of football games, like a bag of Sunday-morning bagels, mix together in a big blur. They’re unremarkable and insignificant. The lives of our children, on the other hand, are precious and unique and painfully fleeting.

I’m there to watch mine. Are you, Biff?

Kotex my ass.

  • This post is so Always with Wings of you.

    But in all seriousness, thanks for writing it, because I completely 100% agree and don’t think it’s said often enough. There’s fan loyalty and then there’s obsessive fanaticism. Which, yes, the term “fan” is derived from that word, but it’s not meant to be literal.

  • Steve

    Do you have any hobbies, Jeff? Perhaps ones that don’t involve your kids?

    I have a six-month-old. I love him to death, but I don’t see anything wrong with spending time away from him occasionally. It helps create a balance in my life and makes the time we do spend together that much more special.

    So I play golf. I work out. I hang out with friends. And I make sure I’m available to watch him whenever my wife needs a little time to herself to go see a movie or get sushi with her friends.

    I find it a little ridiculous that you feel qualified to judge this guy’s parenting just by analyzing an e-mail and a 5-minute conversation. You like to preach about what makes a good parent, and a lot of the time I agree. But in this case, I think you’re a little off.

    Now go do something fun for yourself.

    • Steve, the guy told me he never, ever, ever, ever misses a Giants or Mets game. Never.

  • Pingback: Say it to my face « Josh Katzowitz – Sports Writer/Author/Thinker()

  • jmw

    Some people take sports too seriously.
    My ex-bro-inlaw worked for the cable company. Had 14 billion channels. Every thanksgiving had to be at their house so he could watch the games. Wouldn’t take his eyes or attention off the tube.
    I always figured it was a holiday to spend with family. He spent it with the NFL and Sports Center.

  • LG

    Agree completely with the sentiment — only guys I won’t date are sporst-aholics, b/c I can be by myself all on my own — but why resort to the name calling? That you chose something ostensibly gender neutral (but one might read it as a smear of gay men) and he didn’t doesn’t make you better. You just undermine your point, which was a good one.

  • Clive

    Guy takes the time to introduce himself and then emails you admitting to a previous insult and you respond with a public post critiquing his parenting? I mean the following as a completely serious question – how do you justify that? How is it your right/place to criticize his parenting?

  • I agree with Clive, dick move Jeff.

    Between this guy and John Rocker and other things on this blog, you really want to have the last word at all times. Not the greatest personality trait.

    And two things:

    1. You accepted his apology. Now you’re reneging on that? Why? And for crying out loud, he called you a feminine hygiene product, it’s not like he outted you as a kiddie rapist.

    2. In a post last week you admitted to being wrong when you say that you go into athlete’s heads and try to figure out what they’re thinking. You ripped another writer for doing it and when he said that you did the same thing in your Clemens book you apologized.

    Yet you do the same thing to this guy. WTF?

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life