After the LSAT, I rushed to Quebec city to play in the provincial rugby semi-final. You know when you try to will a car or bus or metro or cab to go faster but all that happens is that you realize the limited influence of your will and you realize that the best strategy is just to sit back, calm down and accept the lateness? I was in this state for two hours.
But eventually the crystalline sparkle of autumn on the Plains of Abraham came into view. The tidal rush of rugby roared across them. I scrambled into cleets and took the field.
We lost. The anxiety and mental exhaustion of the day had taken its toll on me and I made quite a few mental mistakes. My passion was slightly hobbled by a sinus infection and LSAT fatigue. But I played quite heroically at times, and stole a ball to win an 80 yard footrace to the try zone. There was one guy who was going to angle me out of bounds or tackle me but I was NOT going to run 80 meters at full tilt with a bad ankle just to get tackled within an eyelash of the white chalk by this little French squit who, unfortunately, had looped around at just the perfect angle to bump me out of bounds. But then this kind of metaphysical refusal to be robbed of this one small drop of victory in the f—ing ocean of strife that composes my life sort of unhinged something inside me. Some primal moral construct became dislodged – blame it on the LSAT, or the frustrating game, or the anxious car drive, or the anxiety emergent from reality’s constant hampering of our attempts to impress our volition upon it. I didn’t even hesitate to think. I just swung. It was a little vicious, not to mention totally illegal rugby-wise. I caught him with the soft underbelly of my fist, right in the jowl. I didn’t slow down to watch as he careened past me, his legs giving out like a boxer in the final round. I just tumbled in to claim my five glorious points.
The pudgy, post-ambulatory linesman was still around the half way line. He had already given me a penalty for fisticuffs early in the match, but he was far too far away and too myopic to be able to distinguish an innocent arm bar from a malicious blow. A towering opposing 8-man came up to me in offended disbelief. He had chased me like a hunting dog does a bunny all the way from the other hemisphere of our little rugby microcosm. He was the primary audience for my transgression and he was shocked. I rubbed it in his face a little. When we lost the game I had to shake hands with him a little sheepishly. He was pretty magnanimous about it.
Its comes with a strange, neandertholic pride, playing a bit of dirty rugby. I feel a little bad, from a kind of Kantian, categorical imperative, standpoint. I feel guilty thinking that I have perhaps somehow tarnished the game, discredited the sport by encouraging its barbarism. But there is a ‘this-is-war’ poignancy to it that cannot be denied, not to mention a kind of internal, karmic justice. Violent play is often answered with curt vigilantism. Fortunately karma is a long-run phenomenon, so I might just get away with it this season…