The other evening I entered our living room to find Dan sitting on the couch with his head in his hands. Alarmed, I thought maybe he was sick. When I asked him what was wrong, though, he mumbled something I couldn’t quite understand.
“What did you say?” I sat down next to him.
He looked at me with a pained expression. “We really need to capitalize here,” he said.
Capitalize? Were we having some financial difficulty I was unaware of? I was considering the wisdom of pressing him for more information when suddenly I noticed there was a baseball game on television. The Red Sox had two men on base in the bottom of the fifth versus the Yankees and they needed a hit in order to “capitalize.”
I’ve struggled with this kind of sports intensity for as long as Dan and I have been married and I long ago learned the futility of making such superior statements as “Puh-leeease! It’s only a ballgame!” For Dan, when it comes to sports, and most especially when it comes to Red Sox baseball, it’s never “just a ballgame.” It’s an epic battle between good and evil. It’s the little guys fighting against all odds and achieving what no one thought they could. It’s a veritable example of the human drama, it is real-life, and Dan lives it.
That night I decided to find something else to do, and when the inevitable happened and the Red Sox lost, I tried to distract him by chatting about other things until we went to bed. The series between the Red sox and Yankees continued with games lasting far into the night for what seemed like days on end. When the Red Sox started winning these games, I started sitting next to Dan and watching with him.
Last night was the worst. I found myself sitting on the couch, peeking at the game through anxious fingers, holding my breath, and thinking things like, “We REALLY need to capitalize here.”
When it was nearly midnight and the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox had a sizeable lead and I actually dared hope they might win the game, win it all, make history against those evil Yankees.
“Should we get the kids up?” Dan asked tentatively.
“Oh yes, let’s!” I answered. This was something they should see. This was the triumph of good over evil, the little guys finally coming out on top, history in the making, and I didn’t want them to miss it. Bleary-eyed, the kids lined up on the couch with goofy grins on their faces. When the final out was made, the game was over, and the Red Sox were victorious, the kids let out a whoop while Dan stared at the television in disbelief.
“We actually won. We beat the Yankees,” he said weakly.
I smiled as I felt a mix of joy and relief well up inside me. Just a ballgame? Puh-leeeease!