My college sweetheart grew up in Cambridge, Mass., walking distance from the Boston Red Sox’s Fenway Park.
Like many of her ilk, she grew up a die-hard Red Sox fan; when they lost the pennant to the New York Yankees in 2003, she flatly rejected me from entering her dorm room to witness her crying. But we were together in Chicago the following year when the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years.
During the deciding game’s final play, I watched her reaction instead of the television screen. I’ll never forget her yelp of joy or the elation in her face, and it was cool to witness the Curse of the Bambino become lifted alongside someone who genuinely gave a fuck.
But I didn’t really…not about the team itself, or the win.
Twelve years later, I’m in a similar spot: last night, the Chicago Cubs won its first World Series in 108 years following an appropriately dramatic Game 7 against the Cleveland Indians, who have also gone many years without a World Series win. Had the Cubs lost, I would be rubbing elbows with the saltiest population of Chicagoans since after the Great Chicago Fire 145 years ago.
Instead, folks around these parts are at peak White Bob from Marketing on this foggy Thursday morning. Fireworks, gunshots and people leaning on their car horns kept me awake at 3:35 this morning, and I’m guessing human resources departments throughout the city are logging a record number of “sick” days. I’ve heard Queen’s “We Are the Champions” and the “Go Cubs Go!” song numerous times already this morning, and I’ve only been awake for an hour and a half.
As objectively good as the extra-innings game was (Like everyone else who stayed up to watch it and had to be up this morning, I’m on the struggle bus to stay awake) and as cool as it is to see a city I love basking in celebration, I still don’t actually give a fuck. About any of it. I’m generally apathetic about sports as it is – I only get out of bed for Michigan Football, and the most heart-rending sports experience of my life came during last season’s last-second defeat at the hands of Michigan State – but I lack whatever inner mechanics make a grown-ass man drop tears at the activity of a bunch of strangers on a field, court or rink.
As a native of one die-hard sports city who moved to another one, I respect on some level the multitude of fucks the locals give about their teams. Problem is, unless I’m rocking one of my Detroit T-shirts, random folks love to start conversations with me that kick off with something akin to, “How ‘bout them Cubs/Sox/Bears/Blackhawks/Bulls?” And I have to decide in the moment whether I even care enough to engage.
I’m most conscious of this fucks divide when I’m at the barbershop and it’s full of dudes debating about Chicago sports. Unfortunately, I have a barber who’s ridiculously opinionated and talks with his goddamn hands, which means my cut will take at least 10 to 15 minutes longer during these debates; because I can’t contribute, all I can do is take those forced “breaks” to quietly peruse Instagram to see what new “model” is breaking her dad’s heart at the moment.
At this point, I’m old hat at this no-sports-fucks-given thing. So if you’re like me, here are a few quick tips you can employ to either pretend like you give the fucks about sports that you don’t or to just avoid the discussion altogether:
- Avoid direct interactions with overzealous white fans: A day without at least one interaction with an old white dude is like a day without water – somewhat unavoidable. So if there’s a significant game or series happening and you see a dude approaching you who looks like Newt Gingrich draped from graying head to jaundiced toes in his favorite team’s gear, do that thing you do when a kid approaches you in the grocery store parking lot looking for money for his “school football team” (read: new Js): start a fake, fake-deep conversation with your moms on the phone and pretend like you don’t see him. Fix your eyes to look like you are ready to cry so he’ll feel even less inclined to talk to you about a game or team you couldn’t give a scant fuck about.
- Wear neutral colors: Many of my friends who work office jobs have informed me that their business casual dress code has been put on hold this week to allow for Cubs gear. I know you love wearing jeans to the gig, but don’t do it – the last thing you need on a Tuesday morning is to get caught up at the Keurig station with Tristan in Accounts Payable so he can bitch at you about how butthurt he is that his dear team is being ignored amid all the hoopla. Rock your normal Kohl’s gear and Stacy Adams kicks…you’re more likely to be left alone, but no promises.
- Learn about a player from every major team: If you see a bunch of people rocking jerseys with the same names in your adoptive city, do yourself a favor and learn a bit about those players. What are their stats? What injuries are nagging them? What’s the name of the hooker they banged in the video that somehow made it to TMZ? That way, if you do wind up stuck in a conversation with discount Newt Gingrich, you can wing it: “Sooo, what about so-and-so’s interior occipital lumbar joint region…think it’s gonna be a problem for today’s game?” This will provoke a discussion – just nod your head, say “uh-huh” every time his jowls stop moving for a second and keep it moving.
- Stay in the crib: When Barack Obama won his first election in 2008, I rode my bike some 10 miles at 10:30 p.m. to be in Grant Park where he delivered his acceptance speech. That was magical. When the win came through last night, I holed myself up at my place and posted up at the window with the rifle like Malcolm. There were fireworks, gunshots, honking horns, drunkenness and a general magnitude of fuckery and bucknuttiness heretofore unseen in Chicago sports, and everyone’s just getting started. I’m treating the next couple days like Y2K – loading up on bottled water, Malt Duck, Astroglide, Q-Tips and jars of loose pomegranate seeds. As long as my Comcast payment clears, I’ll be good for a few days until the madness subsides.