Robert Griffin III, Teenaged Runaway
"He said, 'Hey, trust me. I want to be in there, and I deserve to be in there.' I couldn't disagree with him." –Mike Shanahan after Sunday’s game where Robert Griffin III blew out his knee horrifically after playing hurt.
"I'm the one that shut him down that day, finally. I've been a nervous wreck letting him come back as quick as he has. He's doing a lot better this week, but he's still recovering and I'm holding my breath because of it.” –Dr. James Andrews
Robert Griffin III is a suburban teenage girl wandering around the city at dusk with no bra. He is too naïve to be scared. He believes in himself too much. He is a Girls Gone Wild nightmare, cocked and loaded with a hair trigger. His tits are perfect. He has no idea how stupid he is, or how dangerous people are. This can’t end well, The gap in knowledge is too great. The lessons won’t stick if they come any way but the hardest.
He lied to his parents—“I’ll be OK, Dad, I’ll be OK, OK?”—who believed him because they wanted to believe him, and now he’s out there alone, excitingly collecting the club fliers from a coffee-shop bulletin board. He is lured towards his doom at the hands of DJ SCRUBA by an overblown sense of adventure, the juvenile confidence that all adventures end happily.
RGIII is drunk and high. On what, he does not know. He has never been drunk or high before, but he is fine. He tells himself he is fine. His parents call and he ducks out into the alley to answer. He bluffs his way through it. Not perfectly, they know something’s up, but they’re on vacation and they’re not about to fly back from Maui just because their daughter raided the liquor cabinet. They can deal with that when they get home. They hear the city noises in the background during the phone call, but that’s probably nothing, just the TV. Denial is a powerful force. Our girl knows how to take care of herself. The parents, not wanting to believe the worst, corroborate the daughter’s story with the irresponsible surrogate authority figures the child has wrangled just for this purpose, Heather’s mom and stepdad. They say everything’s fine. As far as they know, everything is fine. This is enough for the parents. What can they do, they’re in Maui. RGIII hangs up the phone. He does not know where he is. It’s cold. His cellphone battery is dying.
RGIII has lost his virginity. He is lying in a discarded heap in the backseat of a Volkswagen. He is not moving. His life is different now. Maybe very different. Maybe he is pregnant. Maybe he has HIV. He does not know. He will not know that until later. All he knows now is his life is different now. He is not a virgin. The guy responsible is outside the car arguing with somebody. He says his name is Gabe. Gabe has mesmerizing green eyes, and one thing just led to another until Now and This. RGIII is not sure that Gabe is really this guy’s name, but knows with absolute certainty that Gabe is not a good person, that there are Gabes out there, that the world is possibly all Gabes. RGIII is experiencing a painful surge of awareness. His virginity is gone. Like this. In the back of a Volkswagen in what he overhears is Queens. His vagina is burning.
RGIII gets up and walks. Away. Towards nothing. In a straight line. Projecting an aura of hard-earned dignity. Gabe takes no notice. Gabe has bigger fish to fry. RGIII calls his parents with the last remaining power left in his battery, and says, cryptically, “I’m sorry and I love you,” before the phone dies. RGIII walks into an all-night diner. A patron there, an African immigrant cab driver decompressing from his shift, notices RGIII, and immediately knows what’s wrong. The cabbie’s name is Dr. James Andrews. He won the medallion lottery and therefore owns his cab. He takes pity on RGIII. He once had a daughter who would be about the same age. Dr. James Andrews will take RGIII wherever he needs to go. But the virginity is gone, and the pregnancy or the HIV will be there too, and Dr. James Andrews can’t do anything about it except help RGIII to heal. Dr. James Andrews is a good man.
Ben Johnson is a Washington Redskins fan.