Whether by divine providence or mere coincidence, a bar in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, turned into a sort of reunion for my small Philadelphia high school on Sunday. I was there to watch the Eagles play the Chicago Bears. My brother, who was visiting from the City of Brotherly Love, joined me, as did my classmate Tyson and his wife, Justine, who was in my brother’s class. Another of our schoolmates Alex Hall, whom none of us had seen in years, was there as well. Apparently, he lives nearby.
Like many reunions, it was a family affair. Tyson’s young son, Theo, and my niece, Sophia, were on hand. They clapped enthusiastically, adorably. For the most part we egged them on, though not always (“Never, ever clap for the Cowboys,” someone instructed the 18-month-old Sophia). Alex has two daughters of his own so the conversation centered as much on sleeping habits and schooling prospects, as it did on blitz packages and third-down conversions. Meanwhile, the Eagles grinded to a 9-3 halftime lead.
For a moment, I had a vision of football as a happy game, a game that could bring together family and friends, young and old. We would gather around to enjoy one another’s company and to celebrate a beautiful Sunday. The touchdowns and fumbles would pass by incidentally, no more important than the ads that surrounded them. This week (in my ongoing attempt to kick my Eagles habit) I was supposed to be ‘entirely ready to have God remove all my defects of character,’ the defects that had caused me to let this barbaric, corporate monstrosity called the NFL take charge of my moods. For most of Sunday, it seemed unnecessary. My defects, I thought, had vanished.
Then the Eagles ruined everything.
I’m being a bit disingenuous. I can’t say I didn’t spend a lot of time cursing the Eagles as they squandered their opportunities. They continually lacked imagination on the offensive end when it counted most and settled for field goals. I can’t say I didn’t get wrapped up in the game and that I didn’t have a sinking feeling throughout, a sense of impending doom. It happened. The Eagles could have killed the Bears off with four minutes left, but they didn’t. They took a sack and a penalty and gave the ball back. Then they let the Bears, who had no time outs, drive 97 yards in 1:43. Touchdown. Game over.
I looked at my little niece and tried to summon the kind cheerfulness I had earlier in the day. But all I could think was, Fuck! What a terrible loss!
O Lord, remove these defects!
now my whole family needs to join the 12 step program…
— tyson Oct 23, 09:23 PM #
Just remember that if your emotions truly ran parallel to Sophia’s, you’d have been crying hysterically yesterday when your new ball disappeared into a bag at the checkout lane in Target. Also, you might not know when you’ve pooped your pants.