Also known as W.A.R.—perhaps a better title—last weekend’s Humans vs. Zombies extreme tag competition managed to provide recreation for only a few, and from the look of things hardly managed to be adult. In fact, it seemed more like the adolescent happenings of a middle school gym class.
Allow me to explain: hanging out at Gym Bar last Saturday evening, I noticed a guy sitting alone in his Humans vs. Zombies shirt, away from the gaggle of buzzed gays in similar dress. When I asked him why he sat alone, his response appalled me.
Said player—who will, like everyone else in this posting, remain anonymous—said he really hoped to meet some new friends or at least have a good time doing something new on a beautiful day. When he arrived for the game, he thought he’d done something wrong. Nobody introduced themselves, nobody asked his name, and apparently when he tried to introduce himself to others, everyone ignored him. As the facilitators explained the rules, making reference to non-present members of the West Hollywood Dodgeball League by first names, he said he wondered if he’d signed up for some closed event by mistake. Everyone there seemed to already be on a dodgeball team and know one another already. Nobody, he said, welcomed him to the game or made any outgoing effort to at least meet him; rather the other players seemed preoccupied with cutting up their new t-shirts into a more sexually suggestive style.
I glanced over at the other players in Gym Bar. The guy was right: he seemed to be the one of the few wearing an unaltered shirt, while the other players sported slutty hacked-up tees which exposed most of their upper bodies. My new friend told me he’d expected some flirtation, but since he wasn’t on the market, he’d just hoped for a fun afternoon and some cool new people. I asked if he enjoyed himself at all. He told me he thought he should have, that the game was original if disorganized, but also mentioned that one of the other teams only scored a few points, while the other two had almost hit thirty each. He thought, at one point, that he was playing existing teams since the players seemed grouped ahead of time, rather than organized there.
I asked him again if he knew for sure that the event was open to the public, or if maybe he had crashed some party. No, he explained, he did ask the facilitator who assured him that the game was open to everyone. Afterword, he’d hoped to make friends at the Gym Bar after party, figuring the other players might just have a strong notion of competition, and following the game might act more sociable. As I looked at him, forlorn and tired, I could tell that had not happened. He left shortly after our conversation without anyone seeming to notice…except me.
Now, perhaps my new friend had done something rude, maybe he was a complete jerk, maybe he offended the other players. I can only say he didn’t seem rude to me. Given that nobody there seemed to notice him or make any kind of effort, I’m inclined to believe his story. Everything I witnessed on Saturday afternoon lent credence to his story. What is it about this cult like, elitist group that makes them so brazen as to think they can behave like cliquish juveniles? Is it because they play kiddie “sports” more akin to the sixth grade than the major leagues? Or are they just overgrown children themselves who have forgotten what it’s like to be ostracized and bullied?
The reason for having a community recreation league is to have fun with friends, yes, but it is also to foster the community. That’s especially important in a city like West Hollywood, which was founded on the idea of inclusion, of offering refuge to people of all ages, shapes, genders, races and sizes. The community must have an attitude of inclusion and welcoming for more than 20-something men who spend most of their time in a gym or on Grindr. Understand, I’m not blaming the city or population of West Hollywood as a whole, but I would point out that a community recreational organization should make socializing and inclusion priorities. After all, working as a team, making friends and having a good time are the very precepts of sportsmanship. Of late, it seems more like a bad retread of Mean Girls than any kind of recreational league I know.
As a member of the community, I’m embarrassed. As a casual observer, I’m appalled. Despite what the title says, nobody at West Hollywood Adult Recreation seems to act very adult, and the group certainly doesn’t seem like much fun.