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When’s The Last Time You Cried From Physical Pain?

2:29 PM EST on January 4, 2022

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Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s new book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we're talking about Tim Hortons, Aaron Rodgers, athlete’s foot, and more.

Your letters:


When's the last time you cried from physical pain? To be clear, I support all adults crying for any reason that suits them. But my daughter head-butted my wife square in the nose yesterday and had her absolutely sobbing.

It was when my back problems were at their worst. Right before my second surgery, to nail it down. I bent over to help my then-toddler-aged son tie his shoes, popped a disc, and was in constant, unbearable pain for days until they cut me open. I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t sit, and, worst of all, I couldn’t lie down. I had long been able to lie down to find relief from my back problems, but this time even that didn’t work. No matter what position I was in, it felt like the inside of my body was being ripped apart. Like real torture. It’s the kind of pain you have to experience firsthand to truly understand, and it takes you to awful places. So I cried because it hurt so badly, and because I felt like I had done nothing to deserve it, and because I was terrified I would stay at this level of pain for the rest of my life. Years. Decades. No escape. You would’ve cried, too.

I can’t think of a time I cried from pain since then. I wanted to cry when they put a camera up my dick five years ago, but I was too busy screaming my lungs out from the pain to do so. I’ve have a lot of terrible pains as an adult, now that I think about it. I’ve had a blood clot double the size of my nuts. I’ve had babies rip out my arm and chest hair. I’ve been head-butted by my children, same as Dane’s wife. I’ve ripped out ingrown toenails. I’ve busted an ear. I’ve cracked my skull. I’ve had sciatica relapses. And I once had an abdominal strain that manifested itself in SEVERE pain to my testicles. Dunno why God always opts for the low blows, but he’s got a real fetish for them. In all of those cases, I instinctively reacted to the pain not by crying, but my cursing and wincing as loud as possible. Dad noises. If I had cried, I certainly wouldn’t have been ashamed. But apparently I require a healthy dose of existential pain to come WITH the physical pain to get the waterworks going. 

Also, and this is only tangentially related, I realized the other day that I’ve never gotten into a fistfight in my adult life. So when I throw down a contested take about, say, Boba Fett, and I punctuate that take with a “Fight me,” please know that I will never back that request up.


Have we defeated athlete's foot? All of these promotions for the Madden documentary have caused me to remember the ubiquity of ads for "tough actin' Tinactin" and other athlete's foot remedies from the 1990s. The burning sensation! The stank! I don't think I've heard a word about any of it since 9/11. So did we win the war on athlete's foot? And if so, how in the name of the YMCA steam room did we do it?

I also thought of Tinactin when Madden died, which is quite a testament to the power of good branding, when you think about it. Now that Madden is gone, all other TV pitchmen seem lacking by comparison. I can’t stomach the sight of Samuel L. Jackson on my TV anymore, and I love Samuel L. Jackson. This development is arguably a greater tragedy than Madden’s death itself.

Anyway … athlete’s foot. No, we have not defeated athlete’s foot. If we had, Tinactin wouldn’t still be available at drug stores. You’d go to the clerk and ask for some and they’d be like, “You have athlete’s foot? What, did you time travel here from 1919?” Then they’d hit you with a stun gun for being such a weirdo. But athlete’s foot remains a common ailment, which means you can find treatment for it with little difficulty. We have reached the endemic stage of athlete’s foot. You will get it, but you know how to treat it, so it’s more of an everyday hassle than any sort of global emergency, what with the itching and the burning and what not. Of course, many of our citizens—even ACTUAL athletes—won’t seek out this treatment. Instead, they treat their athlete’s foot with Derma-Vet ointment, which was proven ineffective for human athlete’s foot decades ago.

In all seriousness, I tried looking up incidence of athlete’s foot in America over the years and found no statistics of any kind. This is because no one is gonna go to a doctor for athlete’s foot, unless that athlete’s foot is so severe that it looks like that one photo of Bear Grylls’s producer after a snake bit him on his trotter (link withheld as a courtesy). You get athlete’s foot, you buy some Lotrimin, and then it goes away. It’s not FUN when you get it, but it’s easy to deal with. We have more concerning ailments out there to focus on right now. When I was a kid, ads made it seem like the two greatest diseases ravaging mankind were athlete’s foot and dandruff. Americans now know better.

I remember getting athlete’s foot as a kid and being VERY impressed with myself. Oh my God, I have athlete’s foot. That means I’m an athlete! Then I bought some spray can medicine and watched it get all foamy and sizzle when I sprayed it on all the red spots. Made me feel like a big man. Coach Madden would have been very proud. Then I got jock itch for the first time and I was like This is nowhere near as cool. My sons also got jock itch a few years ago and I immediately sprang into action. I knew which brand of shit to buy. I showed them where to put it. I even applied it for them because they asked. Cleared it right up. If you need a local dad to rub medicine on YOUR son’s genitals, I’m your man!


What percentage of containers (package, bottle, bag) do you think you've opened on your own (with or without scissors or other implements), over the course of your entire life, versus asking someone for help? My personal estimate is 35%, which I'm sure is on the low side.

It can’t be that low. What are you, 4 years old? Get it together, Jimbo. You need to be a real man like me. I open everything myself, or not at all. If that jelly jar won’t open … well then, I guess we better return it. The people at Bonne Maman should make better jars, that’s what I say.

I’m asked to open shit around the house, and that’s when I really get to flex my dad muscles. Why certainly young lady, I’d be delighted to crack open this bottle of ale for you without the assistance of a bottle opener. When packages arrive at the doorstep, I always try to open them without scissors FIRST. I peel the tape off with my fingers until I hit a stubborn tape intersection. Then I use my man strength to pull the cardboard flap away from that intersection so that the tape gives way and snaps, freeing that flap and damaging all merchandise inside. Fantastic shit. Dunno why we own scissors at all, really.

So call it 60 percent for me, but that’s only because I was once small and weak and helpless.


My young kids have a book about farming, and the picture on the last page bothers me. Who puts a giant block of butter just loose on their plate? I suppose the solo egg could be hard-boiled, but I believe this is the first time I’ve ever seen grapes on cereal.

love to have a loose egg rolling around the communal table

The plate makes sense if it’s a communal serving plate. I’ve done that. If I don’t wanna use a formal platter for a routine breakfast, I’ll toss some shit on a plate for everyone at the table to grab at. That’s normal to me, although putting a fully dressed English muffin half on that same plate is bound to cause confusion.

But yeah, grapes on cereal is definitely fucked.


I was watching an old Vikings highlight from the '70s where fans stormed the field and took down the field goals after the Vikings won to go to the Super Bowl (little did those fans know how bad it would get). Do you think there will ever be a time fans of a professional team will storm the field again?

Yes. It’ll happen after a WFT game, where fans will not storm the field voluntarily but rather have the entire mezzanine level of the stadium collapse beneath their feet, thereby sending them rolling in bloodied heaps out ONTO the field. In celebration.

Otherwise, no. The NFL is a police state. If you dared attempt to storm the field, Roger Goodell would call back the pregame flyover jets to strafe the entire field with double napalm.


Why doesn't Hollywood make space movies for kids anymore? The '80s seemed to be the golden age of kid-targeted space movies (Explorers, Space Camp, Flight of the Navigator). Now all we get is space FILMS like Interstellar, Gravity, Ad Astra, etc. Can't space be fun? 

No, and let me tell you why: because all of the kiddie space movies you just listed sucked. I watched Space Camp like 50 times when I was younger, for reasons I can’t even begin to fathom. The only thing I remember about that movie is that Joaquin Phoenix is in it but is billed as “Leaf Phoenix” because he hadn’t changed his name yet. Also, Kate Capshaw is in it even though she never learned how to act. The rest of it? No idea.

If I want space to be fun, I can watch Star Wars shit anytime I please. But what I really want is a two-hour-plus space crisis in which all of the violence takes place in eerie silence, the protagonist’s father is dead, the on-board computers have ill intent, and everyone is crushingly alone as they speed toward the infinite. That’s the good stuff. There’s no reason for my kids to watch a poorly made space movie, regardless of its intended target audience. I’d genuinely rather them watch Gravity than fucking, like, Mac And Me.

Because they watch enough bad, child-targeted movies, TV, and Youtube as is. They watch awful Disney sitcoms, bland Marvel shit where 40 percent of the dialogue is completely unnecessary, and Youtubers like Farry Gluntcher showing them how to build the Sydney Opera House in Minecraft. Occasionally, they need to absorb some actual, grown-up things. Well-made things. I remember my folks had me watch 2001 when I was like 5, because it involved space and that made it close enough to Star Wars to make them think I’d be into it. They were mistaken. It was the weirdest goddamn movie I’d ever seen. I hated 2001. But I didn’t forget it. I remembered it well enough that, when I was ready to watch it again, I got it. AND WHO SAYS LEARNING CAN’T BE FUN, I ASK YOU?



Is the only way to finally get on the other side of this pandemic to just hope that Aaron Rodgers wins the Super Bowl and rides off into the sunset, content in his (misguided, illogical, idiotic) beliefs about Covid? Is that the sacrifice the rest of us have to pay to get out of this, to let him, and his ilk, feel like he/they won and hand them their sanctimonious perch? Is that the blood sacrifice we must make to finally move on? And if so, would letting that asshole attain that level of satisfaction be worth it?

No. I will never root for that horse’s ass to win a Super Bowl. There’s no worthy bullet to bite watching him cruise to title and hoist a Lombardi. It would do the world precisely zero good. It wouldn’t alter the course of the pandemic in any tangible way. It would just be an endless parade of smug. I watched that asshole and his asshole team clinch home field on Sunday night and every second of it was fucking insufferable. I’m surprised NBC didn’t bury John Madden’s corpse in the end zone at halftime. Granted, I was rooting for the other team that night, and they shit the bed the way everyone—myself included—assumed they would. But even if the Vikings hadn’t been there that night, and Tirico and Collinsworth clearly did their best to act as if they were not, it wouldn’t have made the occasion any more tolerable.

Because I’m sick to death of Aaron Rodgers. For years, I always respected him more than Brett Favre, because who wouldn’t? That’s over now. Favre was just your garden-variety pair of Wrangler jeans. Rodgers, by contrast, is both a needy attention whore like Ben Roethlisberger AND a performative debate club turd like Ted Cruz. I hate his guts. I hope he tears both ACLs on his way to the juice bar. Everyone in the NFL universe acts as if he’s mister perfect and fawns over him like he just left an apple on their fucking desk. Oooh, look at this amazing throw he made! Oooh, he’s the greatest quarterback ever because titles don’t really matter! Oooh, he has such incredible stats. Fucking teacher’s pets. All of you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Watching that game the other night was like sitting at the dinner table for three hours while your mom asks why you can’t be more like your older brother. Meanwhile, that older brother is a horse paste-eating humanoid playing for a municipal pyramid scheme of a franchise cheered on by fat-ass Nazis all over the age of 85. So you’ll excuse me if I don’t find the Packers charming, or if I don’t think Aaron Rodgers deserves a make-good for all the other times that he’s blown a chance to win a second title. Fuck him, fuck his team, and fuck you. Does that answer your question?


Are head coaches kind of trained to act clueless and in need of explanations for penalties? It has really gotten on my nerves this year more than usual. Their player could have just taken off on a dead sprint towards the quarterback pre-snap, and after the flag the head coach is standing there like "I don't get what the issue is, ref." I'm watching Cincinnati/Alabama and Saban has been having conversations with the refs a lot.

That’s gamesmanship, baby. Nick Saban isn’t an idiot. He knows exactly when a call is good and when it’s horseshit. But that doesn’t matter. All that matters is acting as if every call is a wild affront to both him and the great state of Aisle-Of-Bama, so that his players know he’s always gonna yell at the refs for them, and so that weak-minded refs end up swallowing the whistle on the occasional play. It’s like if I turn in a post that has 95 objectionable jokes in it, and then Barry edits out 90 of them but unknowingly keeps the only five I actually wanted in there. I think that comparison makes total sense. Now, lemme tell you a joke about the priest, the rabbi, and the pre-teen streetwalker…


Are there any team vs. team color clashes that drive you crazy? For example, in the Premier League they will have light blue play against solid blue and I just hate it.

I did watch one soccer game once—either EPL or Serie A, I can’t remember—where the two teams wore identical colors. You legit couldn’t tell which team was which. I was more confused than enraged. Did no one before that game go to the officials and say, “Hey man, one of these teams will have to be skins”?

Otherwise, I usually don’t have a visceral reaction to garish uniform matchups. I get pissy when NBA teams bust out alternate jerseys that bear absolutely NO resemblance to anything else they’ve ever worn and I can’t tell which team is the Suns and which is the Nuggets. I also still hate most Color Rush nights. Remember when the Bills and Jets played a Color Rush game and every colorblind person in America had a seizure? I didn’t care for that. Every Color Rush uni looks like an Among Us promotional tie-in.


Do you think Urban bullied Trevor Lawrence and treated him like shit? Or did Urban give his Golden Boy ridiculous special treatment, resulting in all of the team now hating their franchise player?

No, I think Urban treats everyone like that.


What’s an experience that people say is awful that you genuinely enjoy? Me, I like going on airplanes. I like the whole thing: airports, security, waiting at the gate, etc. I also like going to the dentist.

I also love airports. I always get to the airport early, mostly because I don’t wanna miss my flight but also because I enjoy walking the concourse, checking out the DEPARTURES board for exotic destinations, eating at the least awful food option within the terminal, and gazing out at the airfield from the windows. I grew up flying a lot, so I’m so used to all of the attendant bullshit that comes with flying that it doesn’t faze me all that much anymore. But I still find air travel to be wondrous in most other ways.

But hey, Jon asked me for OTHER shit I enjoy that no one else does, so lemme do that now:

    • Rest stops. Love to peruse the food aisles in that Sunoco station right off of 95 in Delaware.
    • Getting up early. I don’t mean at like 5 a.m. But I get up at 6:45–7:00 a.m. out of sheer practice and that means I get the house all to myself for a few minutes before everyone else comes bounding down and making a goddamn racket. I enjoy the brief solitude where I can get it. To that end…
    • Business travel. Big fan.
    • Gentle speed bumps. It’s kinda like a ride.
    • Getting snow off the car. Shoveling is a pain in the ass. But knocking a shitload of snow off the top of the car and watching it come falling down? Delightful.
    • Washing the dishes. Makes me feel useful. Plus my dishwashing gloves make me invulnerable.
    • Being online. I’m a hypocrite for saying this, given that I only use Twitter from my desktop now. But I got friends on here! It’s nice to see them every day in Slack and what have you.
    • Grocery shopping. I’m not only a wizard with the self-scanner, but I can treat myself to a bag of pepperoni if I feel like it.


Isn't it weird to you that basically no movies or TV have incorporated or acknowledged the existence of COVID? Will we start seeing characters in masks and shit like that now that we're approaching Year 3 of the plague?

A lot of network television shows deal with the pandemic, it’s just that you and I don’t happen to watch them. If you’re hard-up for pandemic content, shows like Grey’s Anatomy (it’s still on!), This Is Us, SVU, NCIS, and all of NBC’s shows like Chicago Funeral Parlor have you covered. Get with the masses. Personally, I’d rather watch some grim space movies. I got enough pandemic content in my life.


I just read in the local paper (online edition) that Tim Hortons is coming to Houston. I first wondered, “why?” and then I wondered if there are that many Canadians visiting Houston who require a taste of home to warrant a Tim Hortons. I have been to Canada and I have been to Tim Hortons and I do not understand the fuss. Is this a coffee thing (I do not drink coffee)? Wouldn’t we all be better off if eateries remained regional in nature and aren’t they more fun to visit if you are not seeing them in every other shopping center in every city across the country?

Those are two different questions, so lemme take them one at a time. I have eaten a Tim Hortons donut and been unimpressed. BUT … I ate one at the Penn Station Tim Hortons, so it really doesn’t count. Nothing tastes good when you’re stuck in Penn Station. Everything turns to ash in your mouth. It’s a cursed place. But if you flew me up to Pooskatoo in Canada and served me a a box of fresh Timbiebs right out of the fryer, I’d probably think different of the place. I’m not picky if the donuts are hot.

As for your second question … yes. It’s better when local chains stay local, because they help give every region of a country its own identity. What’s more, certain foods are better when consumed in their native habitat. I just proved that with my sad train station donut, did I not? But that’s also true with good Texas barbecue, the In-N-Out Burger near LAX, New York slices, and whatever the fuck people eat in Nebraska. Probably corn sandwiches or something.


What are the odds that I’ll get this one open without painfully fucking up my fingers? I’m big, I’m hungry and this is the last delicious salt and pepper nut left. After a couple of test runs, though, I put me at <20%

You can do it. If there's visible nut meat, you have a shot. If it's just a sliver of dark, walk away.

Email of the week!


As a Patriots fan and also a sports masochist, I decided to spring for one month of ESPN+ to watch the Brady “documentary” series. I’m four episodes in and it is hilariously bad. The self-preening of Brady. The gratuitous use of random stock footage of waves crashing and animals doing animal things that has nothing to do with what is actually being said. The fact that everything in the documentary has already been fucking documented to death. It’s all ludicrous. But I don’t care about any of that. What I care about is the voiceover that leads off every single episode. It is haunting me. “Man in the arena, presented by Under Armor.” It is the single most absurd voiceover I’ve ever heard in my life. I would say it sounds like someone doing an impression of a voiceover but that would be a compliment. The voiceover man hits a nasally tone that when I hear it, is what I assume a dog hears with a dog whistle. Now, my question is this – is this voiceover as absurd as I think it is (especially seeing as ESPN should know how to do voiceovers)? Or am I slowly going insane after two years of being stuck watching every streaming service imaginable? I tend to think maybe the latter at this point.

I never watched Man In The Arena, because I love myself. But lemme queue up this intro and see what you’re talking about.

[watches for exactly 15 seconds]

Oh, that guy’s been the voice of ESPN for like 20 years now. He SUCKS. No timbre of any kind. He must be Walt Disney’s grandchild or something. No other explanation.

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