Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Viryl Studd - The Early and Middle Years

One often hears that childbirth is so rapturous an experience that new mothers forget the physical agony involved almost before they get home from the hospital, but that wasn’t true of Viryl Studd’s mother, who would never forgive for having been unusually large. His father Douglas, who’d had every bone in his face broken multiple times over the course of an ill-advised amateur boxing career, told his little — but not that little — boy that he would love him (and here the ambiguity of English pronouns begins to chafe and rile!) only if he (and now it gets even worse) came home from Gymboree with knuckles swollen from punching other preschoolers. At that age, it’s Mama’s love a little boy craves, seeing which Douglas told Mama that he would thrash her mercilessly, though he didn’t use that word, which was too big for him in its adjectival form, let alone the adverbial, if she didn’t make Viryl feel that he would be loved only if other children trembled or even dampened themselves at the sight of him. 

Once home from his ghastly dehumanizing job at the mill, Douglas would have his dinner, drink himself into a rage, and drop-kick his son around the room, exhorting him to “grow a pair, you goddamn little mama’s-boy.” Thus did Viryl grow up aggressive. By the time he reached third grade, in which he maintained a very respectable B average, he’d broken the jaw of every boy in school, not to mention the vice principal and the custodian, the latter two of whom were adult males. He took human growth hormone and could bench-press 180 pounds.

In high school, he excelled at sports, primarily baesball, due in substantial part to the fact that before he stepped into the batter’s box, he would call out to the pitcher, “Throw me something I can hit a mile or your parents’ll need dental records to identify you when the game’s over.” The Atlanta Braves drafted him in his senior year sight unseen. 

He got a girlfriend, Moniqu’ua. When her father, before their first date, told Viryl to have her home before one, Viryl demanded, “Or what?” Ashamed for having allowed a teenager to intimidate him in front of his own daughter, unable to foresee a time when he wouldn’t be gagging on shame, Moniqu’ua’s father hanged himself that night, making it necessary for Moniqu’ua’s cousin Darshawn to “give” her to Viryl at their wedding. 

In the minor leagues, Viryl soon discovered that there were other players as big and strong and sociopathic as he was. He would say his dental records thing and they, in turn, would harrumph dismissively and throw him a 92-mph slider that would make him look incompetent. But he turned out to have had natural aptitude all along, came to be able to hit a mile whatever opposing pitchers threw at him, and soon found himself making $9.25 million per season playing in the major leagues. There was some talk at the end of his 13-year career that his having been a defensive liability — he was too muscular to move quickly — might keep him out of the Hall of Fame, but after he held a prominent sportswriter out of a 5th-story window by one ankle, all anyone could remember was his prowess at bat, and one of the white-shoe public relations firms in town offered him an obscene amount of money to play golf with prospective clients, who were thought to feel more manly themselves after walking around with him. hearing his stories and sometimes determining that they couldn’t get both hands around his biceps because he’d  kept taking the human growth stuff. j


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