As I exited my bedroom on Sunday morning, carrying my dog in my arms, my foot hit an enormous pile of cat puke in the middle of the hallway. I slipped, fell backwards, and landed hard in the puke while trying not to drop my dog. I ended up with cat puke on my feet, pants and shirt.
This was not the worst part of my day.
Six hours later I was parked in a handicapped spot adjacent to Gillette Stadium, waiting for the Patriots-Jets showdown. We were eating ribs and steak off the grill and watching the early game on our tailgate television.
This is was the best part of my day.
An hour before game time, my phone rang.
Elysha was spending the weekend at with her parents in the Berkshires, and since I had not spoken to her all day, I assumed that she was calling when I saw her parent’s house number listed on my phone.
“Hi honey!” I said.
“This is not your honey. This is your father-in-law.”
After exchanging pleasantries, my father-in-law attempted to put the upcoming football game in context for me, reminding me that if the Patriots somehow lost, it would not be the end of the world. He told me that he was concerned for his daughter and granddaughter in the event that I came home from Foxboro after a loss.
“I want the Patriots to win,” he said with much gravitas. “I like the Patriots. But I want them to win even more because of what I know a loss would do to you. And what it would in turn do to Elysha and Clara.”
Essentially, he was asking me to be nice to Elysha and Clara if the Jets won.
While his advice wasn’t necessary, it wasn’t far off, either.
He ended the call by advising me to stay warm and saying goodbye, and I waited for him to put Elysha on the phone.
She never came on. She wasn’t even in the house when he called.
He must have taken the call very seriously.
During the beginning of the third quarter of the game, with my team trailing 21-11, I was standing in line at the men’s room when a large man cut the line just behind me, using a girder to conceal his crime. The guy in front of me, to whom I had been speaking to while waiting, saw the large man cut the line and called him out for his infraction.
A series of profanity-laden threats ensued, ending with my new found friend shouting, “If you tell me to shut up one more time, I’m going to kick your ass!”
“Shut up,” the cutter said, sticking his chin out, just daring the guy to hit him.
POW! A fist connected with his the cutter’s head, followed by a flurry of fists from both sides. Seconds later security had separated the two and asked who had witnessed the fight.
“He did!” my new found friend said, pointing at me. He was hoping that I would help him out based upon our two minutes of bonding in the restroom line.
I did. I exaggerated the story to make it sound like the guy who did the cutting had shoved his way in line, possibly throwing an elbow in the process. I made the cutter out to be an angry, belligerent, possible drunk jerk, which was not far from the truth.
My wife has taught be to despise a cutter. Besides, he was a Jets fan.
Either way, both guys had thrown punches and were probably being arraigned in the Gillette Stadium jail underneath the stadium by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.
Gillette Stadium police officers arrest about forty people per game.
As a result, I missed about eight minutes of the third quarter.
It turns out that I didn’t miss much. The Patriots lost to the despicable, loud mouthed, no good, genuinely rotten Jets in a loss that may have hurt more than any of the three Patriots Super Bowl losses.
I hate the Jets that much.
As my friend and I were leaving the stadium, I saw a small boy, probably seven or eight years old, crying as his father led him by the hand down the ramps toward the parking lot.
I understood those tears. I wanted to shed some of mine as well.
To make the day complete, my friend ignored my pleas to turn left as we approached the on ramps to the highway and instead obeyed his GPS system, which put us on I-495 heading in the wrong direction. We traveled fifteen minutes south before being able to turn around and drive past the stadium all over again.
Just what I needed.
The GPS had been inexplicably set to avoid toll roads, and my buddy chose to ignore the guy who had once lived along this stretch of I-495 for ten years in favor of his damn machine.
A perfect ending to one of the worst days of my life.
Three teeny, tiny bright spots from the day included:
- The Patriots started five rookies on defense and one on offense, and the team has more draft picks than any other team in the upcoming draft. They are built to be very good for years to come.
- I no longer need to worry about finding tickets to the Super Bowl, which had been a plan in the works before Sunday.
- I completed Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend the next morning and sent it off to my agent for what I hope will be a light series of revisions and a quick sale.
It’s not much, but it’s something.
Actually, it’s not. Nothing can make up for the loss. It was that bad.
It’s remarkable how emotionally invested a person can become in a football team.
Turns out my father-in-law was right to call after all.