18 and oh no
Bandana is sitting upright in his metal chair.
“You’re a Boston
fan!” he says, pointing at me like I’m an animal in a zoo. “That explains it! I knew
there was something about you.” He starts shaking his head, looking disillusioned. “I’ll bet you have, like…a Larry Bird shrine in your basement or something.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I scoff.
Cut to my basement, which does, in fact, have a corner dedicated to Larry Bird. It’s across from the Tom Brady exhibit.
“You couldn’t even let me hit my lay-up, could you,” I say. “You just had
to block it. It’s my
story, and you couldn’t even let me finish.”
Bandana looks at Tooth. “Are Boston fans even allowed
in this group?”
Tooth nods, but looks a little disappointed in me. “We don’t discriminate here,” he says, then addresses me in a calm, expectant voice. “Do you at least like
“Do I have
to?” I say.
“No,” Tooth says. “But it wouldn’t hurt.”
“I… follow them,” I say, “but that’s just because they’re on the local news.”
Bandana shakes his head. “Even his friend
is a Boston fan,” he says. “How am I supposed to identify with this story now?
Tooth rubs his chin and thinks. His eyes awaken. “No, this is good,” he says. “This is part of why we’re here – learning acceptance and tolerance. This is not about Doug’s affiliation – this is about his emotions, his journey. His issues are the issues we all have. That’s
what we need to focus on.”
Bandana looks skeptical. “I don’t know,” he says. “I pride myself on being intolerant.”
“But you’re here to change that,” Tooth says.
“No, I’m here because my wife forced me to be,” Bandana says. Many of the other men nod with empathy.
“You know what? I like
being a Boston fan in Chicago,” I say. “Whenever the Celts, Pats, or Red Sox win, people congratulate me like I’m on the team. It’s awesome. That doesn’t happen in Boston. Sure, everyone’s happy, but here, I get singled out. Here, I’m special.”
Of course, I choose to leave out the down side of living in Chicago – like also
being singled out when my teams suffer humiliating losses. On the Monday following Super Bowl XLII, in which the heavily-favored 18-0 Patriots suffered an epic upset loss to the New York Giants, I was met at work with 300 colored pieces of paper in my cubicle that read “18 and oh no.”
Not to mention living in a city where the last Super Bowl win was in 1986, in which the Bears crushed my beloved Patriots, 46-10. Any time the Bears reach the playoffs, I have to endure a slew of parties that center around screenings of Superbowl XX videos and commemorative DVDs. Sometimes I wish the Bears would win a Superbowl just to marginally reduce the likelihood of my having to endure watching William “the Refridgerator” Perry’s circus-act touchdown, or hearing that Godforsaken Superbowl Shuffle.Welcome to my nightmare......and every Chicago Superbowl / playoff / pity party since 1986.
“You didn’t mention the Bruins,” Stache says.
” I say, twisting my face like I just ate a bad piece of broccoli. “Who cares about hockey?
Only then do I register that one of the guys in the circle is wearing a Blackhawks jersey. He looks perturbed, but this doesn’t concern me – he’s built more like an accountant than a hockey player.
“Sorry,” I say. “I didn’t mean to imply that hockey’s not a real sport. I mean, hey, at least it’s not soccer.” I scan the circle of men, half expecting to find that one of them is dressed in a Manchester United goalie uniform.
Blackhawk says nothing.
“You know, I was trying to get people in you corner, Doug,” Tooth says. “You’re kinda ruining it.”
“Ok, I’m sorry,” I say. “Would it help everyone if I just say I’m a huge Bulls fan?”
“No,” Tooth says. “We’re all adults here.”
“It would help me
,” Bandana says.
Blackhawk suddenly speaks up. The words come out of him hard and fast and high pitched, like air from the leak of an overfilled tire.
“Do you have any idea what it’s like to be a hockey fan?” he says. Everyone rolls their eyes and gives a here-we-go-again look to each other. “Any idea what it’s like to try to talk to your buddies at work about a great comeback win or a prudent trade, and have them look at you like you’re an alien? Sure, there are blogs, but that can only fulfill you so much.” Blackhawk’s face is red, like the pressure is somehow building instead of being released. “My God, the Hawks just won the Stanley Cup and the guys at work still don’t know Kane from Sharp.”
I have no idea what he’s talking about. I suspect I’m giving him that “alien” look.
Tooth is massaging his temples. He looks at me as if I’m in charge of the last Titanic lifeboat. “So Doug, how about you continue your narrative?” he says.
“Ok,” I say.
There is a queen-sized bed in the center of the circle. In it, Shannon is sleeping. I start getting undressed.
“Oh my God, are they gonna do it?
” Patch says to Stache.
“What would that
accomplish?” I say.
“It would accomplish something for me,
” Patch says.
I slide into bed next to Shannon.
“Honey,” I say, nudging her shoulder.
Links: Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket
, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate
, Chapter 2: Two e-mails
, Chapter 3: Pattern
, Chapter 4: Shattered
, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee
, Chapter 6: Suicide
, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers
, Chapter 9: June
, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no
, Chapter 11: DNA
, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches
, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin
Labels: 18 and oh no, chapter 10, Evil Ted, traveling