Still reeling from the devastating 49ers defeat this past weekend. Thought the original Wiggles reforming might've tempered the disappointment and disgust. No such luck. I take sports seriously. My wife is just learning this. To her, sports are a trifling interest, a mild curiosity, like when one's favorite dancer fails to advance to the next round of America's Next Talentless Tart or whatever those shows are she watches where people suddenly burst into song. (I don't get it. Cop Rock was retarded enough the first time it was on.)
My lovely wife can't understand how a team losing can ruin my night, next day, sometimes even ensuing weeks, months. She says she's never seen it before. I tried explaining it to her, and then we got in a fight, and I said that this is what happens when you date a man with actual testicles. She said that was mean. Perhaps it was. But in my defense, Justine had kicked me out of the basement, where I'd gone to watch the NFC Championship Game, and where the 49ers had just taken the lead. See what I'm saying? When I went to the basement, the 9ers were losing. When she kicked me out, they were winning. My wife had just fucked with sports juju. And every guy knows, you don't fuck with sports juju.
I've tried to explain this to a number of ex-girlfriends and -wives. They never get it, how I can control the outcome of games through my sheer focus, determination, will, and of course my vast array of hexes. I remember the time one girlfriend came out in the middle of a marathon extra inning ballgame and caught me putting a hex on an opposing pitcher*. Sitting there in my boxers, chain-smoking, and wiggling my fingers at a TV screen, I am sure I looked pretty silly. To a woman. But when I explained the scene to all my dude friends, they were like "Of course. It was extra innings."
*Every guy does it. Apparently they even sell hexes on the Internet these days.
There are a lot of theories out there posited by eggheads about sports being a substitute for war. But they're eggheads. It's what they do, overanalyzing and trying to quantify, not getting laid and being all eggheady. It's not that complicated, really. It starts early on, a man's love of sports. It's how we determine pecking order on the blacktop, a subversion of the weak, a championing of the strong, which later translates to who scores the prettiest girls, because this shit is hardwired. The ability to dunk a basketball or throw a 40-yard spiral registers on a cellular level with the ladies and makes 'em all squishy. Only the strong survive and all that. Which I suppose is sorta like war, if you want to break it down to a raping-and-pillage kind of existence. But, again, I'll leave that to the eggheads.
Now I know there are some dudes out there who don't care about sports, and that's cool. I mean, we probably can't be friends or anything. Which I don't think will break anyone's heart. I can get pretty moody, and I don't like letting people borrow my shit anyway. I went through this phase where I thought, since I was an artist, I should pretend to revile competitive athletics. This period, which took place in the early '90s, coincided with my going vegetarian and thinking yoga was an acceptable form of exercise. It was about the time I got the "Peace, Love, and Understanding" tattoo on my left biceps. But I was young, impressionable, didn't know any better.
Of course, Justine is a vegetarian. Even worse, when we started dating she was...vegan. Fighting to keep my boy from developing the pasty, unhealthy pallor of the undead and grow up a normal*, healthy carnivore was not an easy one. But it was one I knew I had to take on. Which made moments like yesterday morning, where my boy ate three hearty sausage links dipped in extra butter, that much sweeter.
*It's true. Check it out. Man was meant to eat meat. My biology teacher at City College told me so.
It's funny, in a way, since I've spent so much of my life running from the stereotypical machismo of my old man and the close-minded rigidity of the East Coast. Yet, here in my old age (41. Don't let the rakish features and crisp, flinty glow fool you), I find myself embracing these ideals. Maybe it's not funny, this returning to one's roots, since it's a natural inclination to go back to where it all began. Like elephants going to die. Not geographically, necessarily. No offense to my Berlin friends, but I don't think I could live anywhere without a Whole Foods and grass-fed, organic meats.
I was raised on sports. Wasn't very good at them. Loved baseball but couldn't hit the hook. Tried football but was too spacey to remember all those plays. And I was smaller back then, my rage not yet fully focused. Even boxed a year in college. I think I would've been an OK boxer if I had the discipline I do now. But I didn't then. And now I'm too old. I've always been too pretty for the sport anyway.
My lack of athletic prowess, however, did not stop my rabid fandom, and more importantly my need to compete, excel, and vanquish. And if you are powerless to determine the outcome on the field of play by actually playing, you learn to impact the game in other ways.
I haven't read the Hart Seely book, whose cover I use above, but if the book description on Amazon is accurate, it sounds fucking awesome (and totally true):
Did you know there is a secret to winning ballgames? It’s not players, managers, money, or luck. It’s the fans’ juju, and no one knows it better than Hart Seely. Seely has spent a lifetime practicing the art of juju from his living room and winning ballgames for the New York Yankees. He paces floors. He yells at defenseless TVs. He rallies the team like Churchill addressing the collective British soul. All this to harness juju energy to influence the outcome of games. And it works.
In this uproarious, unforgettable fan confessional, Seely shares the secrets of juju for the beginner—“Setting the Table,” asking for a called strike instead of a walk-off homer—to advanced juju—“Bringing the Neg,” predicting bad events to keep them from actually happening—to the deepest, darkest secrets of this age-old art. Nostalgic, heartwarming, and laugh-out-loud funny, The Juju Rules is a memoir of a life well lived in service to one’s team that shows how love can be a powerful passion in the best way.
And all this time I thought it was just I who was willing the Yankees to victory. Apparently, I haven't been walking this path alone. Kind of like Jesus and those footprints.
If you watched the 49er debacle on Sunday and you are looking for whom to blame, you might want to start with the obvious and return man Kyle Williams for buttering up his palms with olive oil before each punt, or you may choose to flex a little football knowledge and highlight Greg Roman's refusal to work the middle of the field with any semblance of a crossing pattern, or you could point a finger at Michael Crabtree's puppy love with the Giant D-backs and his utter inability to maintain any degree of separation. Then there is always my personal favorite whipping boy, Alex "Whiskey Dick" Smith, whose O-fer 3rd down conversation percentage staggers beyond paltry (sorry, Whiskey Dick, you don't get credit for the last play in regulation when the Giants effectively let you have the underneath). But the truth is the loss falls squarely on my shoulders. OK. Technically, my wife's, for kicking me out of my own basement. But I know the power of juju, not her. It's just that, for a moment, I doubted it. And that doubt cost a city a chance to celebrate a fifth Super Bowl appearance, an opportunity to revel in excellence and send that mole-faced Eli Manning back underground for the winter where he belongs; and for that, San Francisco, I am sorry.
Not that Kyle Williams, Greg Roman, Michael Crabtree, and Alex Smith shouldn't all go get fucked. And not in the good way.