They say you never forget the moment you break up with your first love, which is why I'll always remember Black Friday 2014. Like a Wal Mart 50" Plasma TV door crasher whose cultural relevance had ramifications beyond its ultra low price - the day after Thanksgiving was the day, for many, that the dream died; or at least the day when the Toronto Blue Jays announced that they were trading Brett Lawrie, Canada's Favourite Bro, to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Josh Donaldson, a first rate third baseman, but a second tier bro.
Did my father, when I was born, expect that 32 years later he’d be texting his son at 10:00 PM out of concern that his man-crush had been traded cross continent from multi-cultural Toronto to Oakland? Probably not. But it was 2014 and my father probably knew that his grown son was looking something like this:
Three months later as pitchers and catchers report for duty and the dawn of a new baseball season hits our consciousness like a Don Henley track hits the record store I figured it is time to reflect on man-crushes of yesteryear and think about who’s getting head. I mean ahead.
Three months later as pitchers and catchers report for duty and the dawn of a new baseball season hits our consciousness like a Don Henley track hits the cassette tap of your car stereo it is time to reflect on man-crushes of yesteryear and think about who’s getting head. I mean ahead.
The whiff of spring (and a new baseball season) comes the hypothetical conclusion (or coping mechanism) that Brett Lawrie may have been the most cliched of emotions: a first love. The summer fling.
If so, Brett Lawrie is everything a boy could want from a summer romance: the type of guy you run into on a boat in Port Carling and next thing you know you're playing beer pong at a Wasaga Beach frat party and listening to Bro Country. It all sounds fun (fun in a way that John Travolta likes going to the gym at 3:00 kinda fun); but is this the type of love that's sustainable? Probably not.
Brett wasn't the type of guy you would bring home to your mother and accept their parental adoration. He was the type of guy who your mother would only have this to say: "Brett sure did have a lot of energy.” Your mother would be right in her assessment because Brett Lawrie does a love a lot energy, but she would have been right to never quite shake her reservations about the tattooed Third Baseman her son was fraternizing with.
Lucky for all parties (except for Brett I suppose) I've come to realize that ones baseball awakening may have begun with B Law but does not automatically end with his tenure as a Mocking Blue Jay.
Then who's next? Who can replace Brett Lawrie under the reluctant (and perhaps unknown) mantle of gay icon at the SkyDome?
Enter Daniel Norris. Daniel Norris is everything we need right now. An evangelical Christian, he’s kinda like Tim Tebow crossed with some dude who works at a coffee shop in Bushwick crossed with the one Sean Cody model that doesn’t have a waxed asshole.
And like Brett Lawrie before him – Daniel Norris is the gay icon the Jays need for the times we currently live in (which is an expectantly pretty shitty team with a spring training comedy of errors to make Shakespeare cry).
But Daniel Norris, or Dino is 21, and he lives in a van! How queer is that?
In a recent interview with ESPN, published in an article entitled: Man in a Van, Norris describes himself "I'm not going to change who I am just because people think it's weird. The only way I'm going to have a great season is by starting out happy and balanced and continuing to be me."
You be you girl.
"We're proud of you for being you," Dinos mother tells him. For gay Jays fans (of which there continue to be more than most other sports, perhaps inexplicably because at this point even the double entendre of the BJ acronym has lost its humour)... Dino is another in a long and perhaps infamous list of pseudo gay jay love-interests.
As Norris infamously tells ESPN he lives in a 1978 yellow VW van nicknamed Shaggy. He has had one serious relationship, with his high school girlfriend, and it ended in part because he wanted more time to travel by himself. For gays this a nudge nudge wink wink type of situation, "He's probably a virgin!" One friend laughed over email, "How hot is that?"
To-wit my friend Doug texted me the other day, “Daniel Norris is fucking sexy.” Doug hasn’t watched a baseball game since the 90’s.
Dino's attractiveness is, however, a very marked movement away from bro-session. Dino is a love for the zeitgeist and what the zeitgeist is talking about right now are lumbersexuals.
Gearjunkie describes the lumbersexual thusly: "Today, the metrosexual is a disappearing breed being quickly replaced by men more concerned with existing in the outdoors, or the pseudo-outdoors, than meticulous grooming habits. He is bar-hopping, but he looks like he could fell a Norway Pine."
The Atlantic, which is more intellectual than Gawker or Buzzfeed has the most intellectual take down of the lumbersexual arguing that the rise of the lumbersexual is reactive to a post economic crisis of manhood, "Both then and now, the men who sought these identities were searching for something authentic, something true." Yet arguing that the entire movement is fake in its pseudo misappropriation of rugged imagery: "The symbols these men are taking on—the plaid, the woodworking, even the beards—are perhaps closer to Coolidge in his chaps. They’re impractical, spangled gestures at a reality they’ll never have to know."
But for the most of us when it comes to Dino who really cares? And I suspect that's the point, at least when it comes to wannabe gay sports figures; no need for facts when you can relish the Instagram account.
Goodbye b law. We'll always have the Eaton Centre Food Court.