merchant of dreams
Where were you three weeks ago when I finished my burger and handed the waitress a $20 as I left the bar? (Because when you realize your year’s over four months early, it doesn’t make much sense asking for change.) Where were you two weeks ago when I started to do my laundry during commercials and wished there wasn’t a game to watch when I came back?
Maybe you’re still gone. But 38-0 will keep me from looking for you for a couple more days.
For a few hours on Saturday, I forgot about everything else. Everything that went wrong, everything that might still be wrong, everything that we thought disappeared last year but still grins and wags its mangled finger at us. There is still no championship to speak of, nothing significant worth proclaiming. But for a day, for one afternoon, not a single thing went wrong. If they are to salvage anything, if they are to turn this apocalypse into a kingdom of rubble, they’ve certainly given us a worthy beginning.
I watched Brandon Graham destroy an offensive line like a bully smashing a kindergartner’s Lego castle to pieces. I watched as Shawn Crable taught us to never stop holding out hope for vindication, and listened to him talk about preserving shutouts afterwards. I watched Johnny Thompson tackle like a shopkeeper throwing the broom down in front of his deli and tackling a thief trying to make a run for it with an old lady’s purse. Both passion and desperation at the same time. I saw the coach we wished we still had any reasons left to defend stand at the podium with a movie star he’d smoke cigars with later that night. And for a third straight week, Mike had not only transcended the pantheon of great men, but he didn’t even acknowledge that he had. He still had work to do. It was simply his job to save us.
After he lost to
“I wouldn’t rather be a part of any other team right now. I wouldn’t want to be on a USC national championship team. I wouldn’t want to be on a
And yet again we saw someone who didn’t just play for us, but someone who thought like us. This was his mess – our mess. And in some absurd, freakishly soothing way, we both held onto it tighter even as it gave us so many reasons to let go. Right now this team belongs to no one but those it matters most to. A hundred reasons to hate it, and yet we don’t. Sometimes, if you can manage to get beneath the pain, it feels pretty incredible to realize you love something that much.
But after the game was over, he smiled the same way he always did. More restrained, no sweat on his forehead, a t-shirt instead of a suit and tie, but a smile all the same. I recognized that man.
“I was just telling the team, I lost the taste of winning for a while. We got that victory, I got that taste back in my mouth, and we wanna keep winning.”
There was focus, there was composure, there was relief. For the first time, there was a season.