Friday, February 17, 2012

Diehard Fan

My husband's voice had been oh so exuberant as he called me during this year's Super Bowl halftime show.  And as I stepped away from the excitement of the surrounding party, I could then almost feel the exhilarated vibrations emanating from my husband's vocal cords at the very thought that his team might just pull it off this year.  But not long after I had hung up with him, the mood in the room suddenly changed and all became quiet.  And then as if choreographed and almost instinctively, one by one, everybody around me began to clench their head in their hands, as we all began to brace for a 2008 déjà vu.  It felt like a slow death, like the feeling a prison inmate must experience as he watches the sunrise on the day of his execution; a sight that he had always thought absolutely beautiful, until today.   I even at one point decided to turn away from the television, thinking maybe, just maybe, that the very action of my eyes to the screen had somehow hurt my team's chances of winning. But no superstitious act could save them now, as we slowly watched the Giants take our dreams of revenge and munch them all away like a bag of Cape Cod potato chips.   And as I slowly said my sad goodbyes and sauntered towards the door, I could see that the laughter and smiles that had once filled my friend's faces just hours before, weren't coming back anytime soon.  But I had another pity party I was late for, as I began my long journey home to my very distraught husband, the most diehard Patriots fan I knew.

The minute our team had made it into the playoffs, my husband had decided it best that he watch the Super Bowl alone.  And I couldn't have agreed more, having watched my husband go through an entire regular season with the emotional ups and downs of a teenage girl.  So with the house empty on that Super Bowl Sunday, he could scream all he wanted at Brady's beautiful bone structure and Eli's goofy grin, without anybody else having to hear.  Except that is, for our poor cat Bob, who I can only imagine had quickly ducked under the bed, the minute the Giants had scored that devastating touchdown.  I remember at one point, thinking in vain, that it might have been nice if the NFL had not reached an agreement after all, and October through February had been filled with something other than blood, sweat, and tears. But alas, none of that mattered anymore, as I headed home to my husband, bracing for the weepy mess of red, white and blue that I absolutely expected to find in the middle of our living room.  And as I got to our door, and turned the handle ever so slightly, there my husband was, a bucket of anxiety drenched in a thick layer of perspiration and mucus, watching the television like a bloodshot-eyed zombie.  And as he turned his head ever so slightly to acknowledge my presence, he seemed only seconds away from bursting into tears, looking like somebody very close to him had just recently died. But I guess, in his mind, somebody had. 

So after all the drama of that very disastrous Sunday,  it made me wonder why we put so much of ourselves into these teams.  Why do we care so much about a group of overpaid athletes who don't even know we exist?  A group of guys who only tend to play their emotions to the camera, until they are ultimately swept away in their private jets with their supermodel wives, joyfully spending their millions and millions until the legalities of their contracts force them onto the field once again.

But what I've ultimately realized, is that those faces on the field, aren't really what matter to us, and what it all comes down to is connections.  Connections to our families, our hometowns, everybody and everything that has helped define who we are and where we've come from.  Maybe we have since moved away and it's the only thing that reminds us of home.  Or maybe a Sunday afternoon of football was the only way we could connect with our fathers during our childhood.  However it started, its beautiful poison will always and forever flow through our veins, as we eventually grow into old men and women, watching our teams win and lose over and over and over again.  And with every touchdown, every home run, every goal, something deep inside our souls will continue to remind us of a certain goodness that we had once felt back in our youth. 

For me it's those cold Sunday evenings that I'd spend with my family back in Boston.  It was the time of year where the air was just starting to get crisp, and the sting of winter's eagerness was just strong enough to make the skin on your hands feel red and raw.  My mother would always bake an apple pie as we'd cozily huddle under afghans and pillows, watching our Patriots charge down the field.  And as we'd sit together as a family on those chilly Sunday evenings, eating and cheering and laughing throughout the game, one couldn't help but experience a magical connection.  A connection so remarkable, you couldn't help but feel anything but lucky, that such a gift had come your way. 

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