Monday, March 31, 2008

A stream of consciousness on the Big 4 and the upsurge in rub-and-tug day spas

I might as well put this whole thing behind the jump simply because it's a long post, and it takes forever to get to the football part.

So come on, indulge my tangential nature, groan at the awful and pointless transition, and enjoy.

This weekend I took a bit of time to travel and wander around in Pennsylvania, a welcome respite after the first week at work in a new job. I'm familiar with the bus rides, the three-hour trip down 95 from Port Authority Bus Terminal and into PA. It's long enough for your muscles to ache and cramp slightly thanks to the lack of seat pitch room and general claustrophobia, but not long enough for you to start complaining about it. You feel the sweat pool down your lower back thanks to the cloying discomfort of the acrylic seat covers over a thin, angular layer of padding, but you aren't too bothered by it because it's only a three-hour ride.

You can easily sleep the first 90 minutes or so, and find enough to entertain you for the rest, especially along the long, winding stretch of Route 422 that twists and turns through Amish country and through acres of fields, farmhouses and ominous day spas.

The day spa is a phenomenon; a glorified, illicit massage parlor open all hours for a brief muscle rub and, ostensibly, a handjob, the real reason you're there. They are characterized by the odd spelling of their names: X-cites Day Spa, Soo-preme Wellness Spa, Relaxe Day Spa. It doesn't stop there. There is the notable absense of windows around the building's exterior, except for one small portal near the front door where a glowing, flashing neon "Open" sign hangs, flashing every three or four seconds.

The spas are normally housed in the basement level or ground level of warehouses or larger commercial offices, and are open when all other commerce in the immediate area is closed. They also advertise in the sports sections of newspapers, normally small 3-inch by 3-inch boxes somewhere near the scores roundup or the transactions section.

The oddest thing on my bus trip was how many there were in a 10-mile stretch along the busy road that links Allentown to Kutztown and Reading. I counted at least 7 along that section of road, which alerts me to one of two things: either rub-and-tug day spas are more lucrative than I'd previously imagined, or their expenses and overheads are low enough that they can survive.

Simply put, you imagine there's just an awful lot of people who want to be jerked off.

Thankfully, this tangient comes to an end, via the most awkward segue ever, as it seems like the Big 4 have been jerking off their fans all season, albeit in very different ways. The quality of football from 3 of the big 4 is pretty fucking woeful, and it's a sad indictment on the league that a Derby/Fulham game can incite more talking points than a tidy Liverpool/Everton derby. And don't even get me started on Chelsea's nausea-inducing offering against a chip-on-their-shoulder outfit like Middlesbrough.

Man United fans get the best jerk-off every week, because their team is simply an embarrassment of riches. Performance-wise, they've become the equivalent of those mid-90s Chicago Bulls teams; a side that simply doesn't have to work very hard to outclass and exhaust their opponents. The absurd depth of talent and weaponry also makes for rather tranquil afternoons for Sir Alex Ferguson on the touchline, who simply lets his players do what they want on the pitch, safe in the knowledge that it'll be enough to win. Sure, there is the occasional hiccup [like their toil in the 1-0 win against Derby County], but for the most part, their play is irritating, breathtaking, and ruthless.

In second place, Chelsea fans get the bored housewife handjob from the disaffected woman you fell in love with 15 years ago through the rose-tinted glasses of the days when you both attended a small liberal arts college. Now that she's packed on the pounds and never wears make-up anymore, she reluctantly agrees to jerk you off, but she never puts much effort into it and the end result is always muted and not quite what you hoped it would be. Simply put, Lampard and co., what the fuck was that yesterday? I've seen Sunday League Under-10s matches with more intensity and purpose than that.

Arsenal fans didn't get it easy, either. It was a tale of two halves, as the cliche goes; in the first half, they were the catcher, and in awful conditions at the Reebok Stadium, they managed to be the pitcher in the last 25 minutes, getting supreme relief from that last-gasp, double-deflection scramble in the box that gave them a 3-2 away win with the last real kick of the game. Sure, the jerk-off felt great, but afterwards, when the girl left with your money in her purse, you felt quite empty, wondering what could have been a couple of weeks ago.

And then we get my team, Liverpool, the team that gets you excited to the point of bliss and happiness, and then proceeds to stop, letting it all fade away and leaving you wholly unsatisfied. Don't get me wrong, I'm ecstatic that we grabbed all 3 points yesterday against our cross-town misanthropes, but it was the kind of performance that I'm all too familiar with: control the first-half, control possession, create many great chances, score just one goal with all those advantages, and then spend the rest of the game flirting with the idea of conceding an equalizer and wasting all that hard work.

It's like a hand job from a girl who doesn't really know what they're doing; 50 percent of the time, they'll do something that is pleasurable, and the rest of the time is spent trying different techniques and leaving you in enough pain to ask her politely to stop.

I don't know where this article came from. Perhaps it was the need to Big Daddy Drew my prose with little-to-no effect, perhaps it was the desire to diversify and try the long blog form approach, or perhaps it was simply a means to an end, a tired but easy way to recap the bulk of the weekend while almost ignoring the fact that the teams from 6th-to-10th have absolutely gone to shit in the last 6 weeks.

To think that two months ago, we were licking our chops at the prospect of a dogfight for 4th. Spurs had locked up a dubious UEFA Cup spot [suck it, Chimbonda... PSV are still dining out on that miss], leaving 6 teams to fight for that last remaining Champions League spot and the last automatic UEFA spot.

Teams were filling out their Intertoto paperwork as an insurance policy, and we had 6 teams within 4 or 5 points of one another with 13 games to play: Liverpool, Everton, Aston Villa, Man City, Portsmouth and Blackburn, all of whom were playing well enough to have a legitimate shout on that CL spot.

As it turns out, four of those teams started shitting the bed regularly, and it coincided with Liverpool's best run of the year [22 points from 27, even with the 3-0 loss to Man Utd].

Now look at the table. It's another unsatisfying jerk-off, and we're left with a rather anti-climactic run-in to the end of the season. The battle for 11th between Spurs and Newcastle is just about the most exciting race left.

A trip to the nearest Day Spa is the only thing that could provide relief from this past EPL weekend.

1 comment:

The Fan's Attic said...

Why pay when you can milk the cow at home for free?