Sunday, December 20, 2009

a regular--following hearts

On several Sundays this Fall, I have gone to a local restaurant that has the Sunday ticket. The ticket allows taverns to broadcast all NFL games. At the Shopper's Cafe, the restaurant I've regularly frequented, there are some twenty television sets--and all games are on displayed somewhere in the restaurant.

I've described this spot before in the blog, but that was before I became a regular. I know the folks now. The couple that comes in with their Cincinnati jerseys. The diehard Detroit fan who wears a #20 Barry Sanders jersey. He comes with his wife who brings her laptop and enjoys the wifi that the restaurant offers while her husband reacts to all games, especially the 2-12 Lions. Typically there is a table of Cleveland fans. Today only one from the crew is present, but he is focussed on one game and one game only, Cleveland at 2-11 against KC 3-10. A true fan. Usually there is a woman who comes in with her Tampa Bay jersey, but I did not see her there today. But she may have had an excuse.

I wondered if anyone would be at the joint today. Over a foot of snow fell in the area last night. It took me over an hour to dig the car out and then there were the predictable two more times I had to go out after the plow had come by.

Nevertheless I made it. And I had company. The Patriots fans were out in force and the Jet haters similarly (typically the same group). When the Patriots won and the Jets lost within a few minutes of each other, there were high fives around the place and all considered it was worth the plowing to make it to the joint. After Miami went down it was just gravy for the faithful.

I would not be surprised to find out that there were some bettors in the restaurant, but the people who traipse to the restaurant that I've met are fans, who know that the owners will make sure that their beloved Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be on the tube. Last week when the Bengals lost to the Vikings, the Cincinnati couple barely could talk. Today the Bengals went behind as I passed their table on the way to the men's room. The spouse was muttering to her husband and clearly distressed as if she had just found out that the landlord had raised the rent 500 dollars.

In the madness of March I comment that it is important for people to have a passion about something. I like the people in the Shopper's Cafe. It may be strange, but there is something that they care enough about that has them shovelling snow on what otherwise could be a lazy Sunday morning.

Later today I read in the paper about an author who hails from near my neck of the woods and is my age. The fellow is from Bensonhurst and the article is about a deadline he has for the book he is working on. The deadline is his looming death. He has what is commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease, but needs to finish his book. We all have to finish our books, do those things we feel naturally we must do. People can disparage sports fanatics for wasting precious time rooting for their teams. But they're not wasting time. In the words of Rudyard Kipling, they're filling "the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run." They're following their hearts.

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