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Monday, Jan. 03, 2005
I thought I was depressed before? Now I’m laying face down in muddy football turf with a white flag protruding from my ass. At half mast and with no following wind.

All because my team couldn’t beat the JV squad from Pittsburgh yesterday to get into the playoffs, and it's possible that it's all my fault. In a fitting and near scripted way, my boys forged ahead in the third quarter only to lose steam when our oft-bemoaned quarterback saw fit to hand the ball off to an onrushing defensive guy, and said defensive guy was absolutely delighted to scamper untouched into the end zone.

I may have mentioned at least once (oh to be sure, I know I did) that the Watering Hole is a Pittsburgh bar. I have no idea why it’s a Pittsburgh bar, as we’re located some 8 hours south of there as the buzzard flies, but there seems to be no end of Steelers fans who wish to make the pilgrimage on any given Sunday. Dozens of them at least, sometimes a hundred or more. They wear the black and gold jerseys and wave towels and hoot. It’s disgusting.

The plan yesterday was to go to the Big Box Music store and cash in some gift cards (lovingly given by my fine progeny) for CD’s, then stop by the Hole, watch the first quarter, put the fear of God into the assembled Steeler contingent and then go home where I could view the game in relative peace. I wrapped myself in my one article of team color, the one with the charging buffalo emblazoned over my heart and strode boldly forth. I heard some mild heckling, but it was very mild. They know me there, know my privileged status as a regular in the club, and won’t risk banishment for anything other than some mild joshing. Heck, most of them commented that “You guys shouldn’t have much trouble with this game, we’re already cemented in the playoffs and most of our big guns aren’t going to play.”

The barkeep noted my flying of team colors and remarked “Oh, I didn’t know you were a fan. Is that your lucky jacket?”

And I had to think about that for a minute before I came to the awful realization that my lucky jacket, seldom worn and hung carefully in the hall closet for season after season, had never once produced a victory when worn for that purpose. Not ever once.

In true bipolar fashion I came to the immediate conclusion that the jacket was a hex, and must be dispatched immediately. I bolted the bar and rushed home, shedding the jacket right there in the parking lot and stuffing it under the seat of the truck lest the aura of non-success permeate the atmosphere and waft north toward the distant stadium. I had some distant notion of burying it in the washing machine at the house, since it was laundry day and Ally was motoring right along with heaping piles of T-shirts and jeans.

As soon as I hit the door I dialed in the game and noted that while we weren’t down by much, we were struggling. So I did what any fan with a necklace of rabbits feet would do. I started dreaming up ways to spark the voodoo. Sometimes arraigning my collection of souvenir beer steins in a particular order in front of the television will do it, or placing an ancient football just below the controls as a sort of pagan offering.

Yesterday I hit on something new and improved.

Since I’d picked up 3 new CD’s with aforementioned gift cards, and wanted the instant gratification of reviewing them, I killed the TV sound and switched to CD mode while keeping the video of the game on.

I plugged in John Mayer’s semi-new Live disc, which is pretty good by the way, and saw a miracle. The boys got an interception! Ran it in for a TD! The defense perked up and started grabbing handfuls of Steelers, flinging them hither and yon and shaking the ball loose! The luck had turned and Mayer crooned and I was in full war cry as Ally paced back and forth with arm loads of clothing, shaking her head and rolling her eyes.

It should be noted that even though this is a 2 disc compilation and takes a while to get through, the amount of time spent on listening to music pales when compared to the number of interruption and commercials shown during your average NFL game. I’d figured the voodoo of Mayer ought to last darn near the whole game but he barely made it to the middle of the third quarter.

Figuring that one male artist ought to be as good as another, I stuck in Michael McDonald, with a James Taylor chaser.

Well, that wasn’t the best of strategic moves, I can tell you. ‘Ol Michael hadn’t even crested the hill of ‘Yah Mo Be There’ when the boys started in on a display of chokage that would rival anything the Yankees put out a couple of months ago. Trouble is, I was rooting for the Yankees demise. This team was going in the tank and all of my joss stick lighting, bone shaking and floor writhing histrionics weren’t going anywhere.

By the time I figured out that maybe getting the Mayer disc back in the machine just might be the answer, James Taylor was up and my nitwit quarterback flubbed the ball into the other guy’s hands and I deflated like a pigskin at a packing plant. The game was over soon thereafter, with a waving of towels from the one crowd and a giant white bedsheet on a flagstaff from the other. Maybe that was it, and I’ll have to file that for next season. Victory is in the hands of your choice of linen? Fine, I can deal with that. I’ll tell the kids to get me gift cards to Bed Bath and Beyond in future.

I like pro football, I like it a lot. So long as I don’t have to endure the torture of carrying my team on my back like that and get disappointed in the end. I did all I could, truly I did.

Ungrateful bastards.

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