We suppose it says something about the state of men that one of the men who made Naomi Fry’s list of good men in 2018 isn’t a man at all: it’s a thing of some sort.
It’s Gritty, the mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team.
“It was a rough one for the reputation of the American male,” Fry writes accurately in her article of men who weren’t horrible.
This viral sensation has brought so much joy to our lives since his début, in September, that it’s difficult to believe that, mere months ago, we were Gritty-less. The instantly meme-able monster physically resembles Animal, the out-of-control drummer from “The Muppet Show,” crossed with the stolidly barrel-shaped Homer Simpson.
Done up in the Flyers’ team colors, black and orange, with his long, shaggy fur, convulsive dance moves, and round, googly eyes never not caught in mid-wobble, Gritty is part cute stuffed toy, part barely repressed hurricane. According to the Gritty origin story on the N.H.L.’s official Web site, the “recent construction at the Wells Fargo Center disturbed his secret hideout,” and forced him into the outside world.
And what luck for us. Gritty is magic because he is pure male id, but without any of the menace—his belligerent gestures so theatrical and over-the-top as to be lovable. (As the N.H.L. site reveals, “A number of times, he has been caught eating snow straight off the Zamboni machine.” He can’t be stopped!)
In one much-shared sequence, Gritty entered the first home-game of the season by rappelling into the arena to the poignant tune of Miley Cyrus’s power ballad “Wrecking Ball.” In the song, Cyrus croons, “We kissed, I fell under your spell / A love no one could deny.”
What a relief to finally encounter a man who, with every gesture of his herky-jerky, fuzzy body, was not afraid to express emotions that were both true and sensitive.
And Anthony Bourdain, who died.