I found a story on the internet about a college rugby player who scored his first goal ever and was forced by tradition to “shoot the boot.” This is when he drinks beer out of a rugby shoe still covered with the game’s mud and grime (and possibly foot fungus too).

I asked him if I could post his story on this site, and he declined, saying he was applying for jobs and was worried that prospective bosses searching the net wouldn’t think he was a serious person, though he was clearly a devoted sportsman and outstanding team player.

All sports have these rituals of initiation. Who couldn’t understand that and accept them? What kind of nerdy, staid boss? And who’d want to work for such a stiff? Awright, I get it, I get it.

Jeez in England for centuries, when a youth kills his first deer, he smears blood all over his face to celebrate his de-virginizing. I remember seeing these photos in Scottish sporting estates of boys AND girls barely 14 or 15 smiling proudly beside the antlers and beaming parents.

But the rugger’s rejection reminded me of another college senior who gained 30 pounds of muscle and described his transformation on this site…but later asked to have his story and pictures removed, because prospective employers might not hire him if they saw how he used to be skinny.

Now here I am at age 69 flashing my abs and showing totally undignified pictures in a world of adults who are all trying to “act their age” and maintain the respect of others who are presenting more proper, age-appropriate faces (and bodies) to the world. I sure am out of step.

Okay, okay. It’s easy for me to imagine being turned down by an East Side NYC co-op, or rejected at a country club, if I am not behaving in a socially acceptable manner. I can even foresee some people not going into a business deal if I am too unconventional.

But it reminds me of the straights in suits from the east meeting the blue-jeaned digital entrepreneurs of the west. The new tycoons of Silicon Valley sure showed those dying manufacturers from the heartlands that clothes and old customs didn’t make the financially successful man. Certainly not having the stodgy graces of a 19th Century industrialist in a $2000 suit with hand-stitched buttonholes.

Plus it always seemed to me that it was a lot more fun to be youthful and free and not weighed down by too many social conventions…if you could get away with it.

Take any dignified man in the world and give him a baby, preferably a child or grandchild, and everyone allows him to kneel down on all fours and play with the youngster, while being as silly or ridiculous or undignified as he wants. But as soon as that powerful geezer rises up, he must withdraw back into his shell of reserved appearances. Boring. Deadening. Not for me.

Is it for you? You CAN create a life that may not require you to be so stiff and withdrawn, so formal and respectable. There are many worlds in which to earn a living that are more forgiving, be they advertising, the arts, digital domains, sports. How important is that for you?

While I understand why those two college seniors felt the need to hide their past shapes or shenanigans in sports, I think it is a sad and negative commentary on how much of our society works. One benefit of growing older is that hopefully you are long past those situations in which other people’s judgments will rule your behaviors and your life. But we all know that I am just thinking wishfully and dreaming fancifully. We are never totally free of those outside opinions, unless we are completely senile, crazed or totally self-centered and absorbed. And in those cases, who wants to hang out with you anyway?