Not since Lloyd Dobler held a boombox over his head in Say Anything has there been a more pathetic case of a needy loser chasing desperately after some object of adoration.
We're talking, of course, about Astros fans, and the way Roger Clemens cruelly toys with their affections on a regular basis.
"Maybe I'll come back; maybe I won't. Maybe those boys in Boston or New York like me more. Well...okay, just this one time more, I will let you pay me millions and millions of dollars. And if I like it and you're nice, who knows about next year? Although next year the Texas Rangers might want me..."
Christ, this is one abusive relationship. Is there anyone out there who could possibly analyze what's going on? Luckily, Houston has Nancy Ford, a writer and performer -- and now a senior editor at OutSmart -- who has spent years looking at and expounding upon relationships. She knows a dysfunctional one when she sees it.
Q. Once again Roger Clemens has played Houston like a violin -- the city pleads for months for him to come back; finally he deigns to, accompanied by euphoric thanks. Is this a sick relationship or what?
A. I don't mean to get all Dr. Phil on you, but yes, this is an example of the classic abusive relationship. It certainly is abusive for Roger to leave and return, leave and return. But then again, maybe the fans are asking for it.
Q. Who's the bigger psychopath -- Roger or the fans?
A. As noted relationship expert Frank Sinatra said about love and marriage: You can't have one without the other. What may be one man's psychopathic behavior may be the next man's foreplay.
Q. You mean when it comes to Roger, Astros fans are into S&M -- and we're the "M"? Well, that would explain why we actually watched Game Four of last year's Series. Or why they didn't pitch around Pujols.
A. As long as all parties involved are consensual in their negotiations, then there's no problem. Besides, better a psychopath than no path at all.
Q. Why can't Astros fans just decide to rid themselves once and for all of this drama queen?
A. For one thing, that 1.87 ERA is pretty hard to give up.
Q. Is this going to end well?
A. Some may think not, as long as Brad Lidge is in the bullpen. But, sadly, Astros fans are accustomed to things not ending well. I prefer to remain optimistic about the fate of Roger and the Astros. At least the Astros are trying to inspire confidence among their fans and players -- it's not like they've squandered away a shot at a No. 1 draft pick.
Ouch. She had to bring up the Reggie Bush-Vince Young debacle. Talk about abusive. (Click here to view a portion of the "contract.")
Welcome to the (Sex) Machine
How long, we have wondered, before someone takes the utter pointlessness of the Wal-Mart greeters, sexes them up and passes the torch to a new generation?
Our wait is up. Abercrombie & Fitch, those edgy folks who bought you child porn disguised as catalogs, are now bringing you their version of the Wal-Mart grandpas. But since it's A&F, it's... sexy!
Mike Greene is a 20-year-old Texas A&M senior whose current gig is standing at the entrance to the Galleria A&F store, topless, and acting perfectly natural as he nods a hello to shoppers.
That's it. He doesn't harangue passersby ("Hey, check out our tees and get a close-up on these pecs!"); he doesn't really chat much with the customers; he just says hi.
As does Emily Davis, a UH senior, who unfortunately wears a shirt. They work five-hour shifts for $6.50 an hour plus $25 a day.
So how's the gig?
"Conservative crowds give you a scowl, but usually people are pretty entertained by it," Greene says.
Davis says mall security had to be called only once, when a man stood leering at her from the corridor and wouldn't move. (Davis was smitten, though, and luckily got the guy's number.) (Not really. It wasn't a Clemens-Astros fans kind of affair or anything.)
"Sometimes," the shirtless Greene says, "creepy guys come and want to take a picture with all the girls. Then they want to take a picture with me. There's a weirdness about that."
More, we couldn't find out. A&F management chased us away. They said they didn't want "any promotion" regarding the...ummm...promotion.
Fine. We just hope this whole thing doesn't escalate, and Wal-Mart feels the need to get its greeters topless.
You go to a porno Web site, see an invitation to play a video featuring a woman and a thick, six-inch pickle, and you can pretty much predict to some degree what's going to happen.
Unless you're at the Web site of Houstonian Eugene Hughes, who has staked out his own little piece of the online porn world: food crushing.
Hughes specializes in short films featuring local non-naked girls crushing various food items with their bare feet -- pickles, grape jelly, cake, whatever. Sometimes they then lick their feet.
This appeals to...we're blanking here...masochistic chefs? Hungry foot fetishists?
Hughes himself isn't sure. "Hey, I'm puzzled about it myself, to be honest," he says.
Hughes launched www.footsiefetishgirls.com four months ago for the most artistic of reasons: "My bank account. It said, 'Feed me, Seymour,' basically," he says.
A former fashion photographer, he went online to research how best to break into the glitzy, glamorous world of Internet porn. The secret was soon revealed: specialize. Carve out a niche and dominate it. Dominate it like it was a bowl of spaghetti and you were a female foot.
He put up ads on Craigslist and Backpage and started filming in his apartment.
There's also a nice little side market in selling food that's been crushed by women. He occasionally puts such items up for sale on eBanned, the porn version of eBay.
"A pack of Gummi Worms...is a coveted treasure for some of these guys, that some little cutie stomped on," he says. "What on earth they do with them, I don't know." (Nothing disgusting, we're sure.)
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The big bucks haven't really started rolling in yet, so Hughes is keeping his regular job...as a waiter.
No, he won't say where, although he claims his bosses and co-workers know of his sideline. And he says he doesn't use any food from the restaurant in his art.
"Thought about it, but...it's a very large corporation and they wouldn't want me showing their food in that light," he analyzes.
No doubt accurately.