In the four years I’ve lived in Boston, the Patriots have been to the Superbowl twice, winning one of those appearances. They have made the playoffs and won their division every year.
Do you know how bizarre that is? I guess “bizarre” is a less apt word than “difficult,” but whatever. It’s fucking rare.
People are sad today, here. I want to be sad, too. Not because I actually want to feel sadness, but because I want to feel a part of such a flaming steamroller of success. Not because this team is good and I like to win, but because this thing that would be mine is also having an extended moment of glory, and what, exactly does it feel like to be so effortless in the pursuit of the postseason? Or anything vaunted, for that matter.
Not, either, because I want to go from expectation to crushing blow in the course of twenty nine whistles and too many held breaths, but It’s an odd and empty feeling to look on from the outside. Not any less so when things are bad.
The guy on the back side of the bar put his mirrored shades on after the last play.
“Faggot,” he yelled at Peyton Manning’s face, blown up on the TV to show his concern for the onside kick. “You all can go kill yourselves now.”
I assumed he aimed this at the blurry faces of nameless fans inside the pixels of the screen. Not the actual, humans, rooting for Denver sitting across the bar. Or the actual, humans, playing for the team or working on its behalf, serving customers much like him in much the same way, holding their collective breath on that last, decisive down.
I assumed he meant this as a colloquial expression, this thing people say, a general insult. Not a real idea to plant in someone’s brain like a germ.
I assumed as such because I can’t fathom anyone feeling so entitled to such a unique and mystical experience as seven straight playoff appearances that they would wish harm on others when it, inevitably, like him, wasn’t immortal.
“Fuck you,” he yelled at Peyton’s face again. “You’re gonna die in five years anyway.”
Then again, maybe mortality wasn’t where he was unclear.
If the two-point conversion had worked, I’m 1000 percent sure some drunk guy in Denver would have wished the same for Tom Brady. This is not a story about how the fans in Boston are cruel with entitlement. This is a story about that moment, that sad, rare spot, when we stop believing in magic and start expecting hard work to look easy.
But what do I know, I’m only looking in from the outside.
The guy with the shades asked me for a beer. I gave it to him. He paid me $6. I thanked him. And all I could see when he spoke were his shades, and my own face reflected back in a greenish color.