2016 was a rough year for me. Especially the last couple of months.
October brought the dream job I thought I finally had landed getting frozen. November brought the election of Donald J. Trump, leading me to question my nation’s sanity. And December – while it provided me with my master’s degree – marked the end of a job I had loved doing for the past two-and-a-half years. More importantly, it also brought me seeing my mom fully naked for the first time. Okay. Let me explain that last one before this gets too weird.
She’d just had glaucoma surgery and couldn’t get her eye patch wet, rendering her unable to take a shower. So, my dad got the bright idea to put her in the bathtub. I was in the living room, writing a blog post when I heard him call my name.
“Davin, can you come here? I need help getting your mom out of the tub.”
I snapped my computer shut and walked to the bathroom. I stopped before going in. It was time for the million-dollar question.
“Is she covered up?” I asked.
“No, she’s not,” replied my dad.
I sighed, then stepped into the bathroom, ready to meet my fate for the evening. After a few minutes of maneuvering and a couple of prayers not to see from whence I came, we got her out of the bathtub. I later joked with my dad the next time it happened, he needed to give me a Vince Lombardi, Jimmy Valvano or at least a Tony D’Amato-style speech before entering.
“Son, you’re about to see your mother naked,” I imagine his speech going. “Remember, the inches we need to get her out of the bathtub are all around us. We can either fight for those inches as a team or die as individuals.”
While seeing your mother naked would cap off the year’s hardships for many, mine were just getting started. The dream job – or any job for that matter – has not yet materialized, leaving me broke and still living with my parents. The waves of self-loathing and pity were starting to kick.
However, one night while I was in the shower, I came to a realization: I can make it through the hardest of times because I’m a die-hard sports fan. I have suffered through harder moments than this before and have come out unscathed.
In the wake of my realization, I have developed this philosophical ditty in which I’ll list the most heartbreaking moments from my sports fandom.
Denver Broncos vs. Washington Redskins (Super Bowl XXI)
This was my first gut-punch loss. I was only six-years-old at the time and life was a fairy tale where my team always won and my Fairy Godmother made sure all my dreams come true. This was the game that shattered that innocence. My 1970s if you will. I remember being inconsolable watching the Redskins’ defense beat John Elway into submission. Even though I wasn’t a Broncos fan, I was an Elway fan and it killed me to see him suffer a 42-point loss at the hands of Washington.
Lesson learned: Life is no once upon a time. Fairy godmothers don’t exist. Cinderella doesn’t get the guy and ends up talking to rodents. Sleeping Beauty doesn’t kill Maleficent. Fiona doesn’t get her curse of being an ogre lifted. Life sucks. Deal with it.
Atlanta Braves vs. Minnesota Twins (1991 World Series)
In the words of Ricky Bobby, I hope Kent Hrbek has articulate grandsons who become star athletes only to suffer career-ending injuries after having their legs lifted off first base. Okay. This is a bit extreme, and I hope this doesn’t happen, but it still doesn’t take away my disdain for Hrbek. Hrbek will always be the Two Face to my Batman. Lex Luther to my Superman. Justin Bieber to my Bob Dylan.
Lesson learned: “Life’s a dirty game. You gotta’ play dirty to win it.” Harris (or The Wire). Fortunes have been made in America off the back of some dirty shit. George W. stealing the 2000 election from Al Gore. Martin Shkreli raising the price of AIDS medication to buy the single copy of The Wu-Tang Clan’s new album. Hrbek lifting Ron Gant’s leg off first in Game 2 of the ’91 World Series. All instances where people have won by being dirty. Cut some corners in life. Don’t worry about the rules. It’s not a foul unless the referee blows the whistle.
Atlanta Braves vs. Toronto Blue Jays (1992 World Series)
Are you kidding me? Two straight World Series losses in a row. Talk about a kick to the shins. Only Buffalo Bills fans have had to endure that type of torture. The ’92 Series loss was particularly harder because of the joy I felt at the end of the National League Championship Series. When Sid Bream scored the game-winning run in Game 7 of the Series, it seemed like providence was smiling down on the Braves. I mean, if Bream – who ran like a snail stuck in glue – can score from second on a single to left field, then it’s the Braves’ year. Right? Wrong.
Lesson learned: Bad news travels in pairs. Get used to it. When you’ve found out you’ve been turned down for one job, expect to be turned down for the next one. When one tire blows, know the second one will be coming soon. When your team makes its second consecutive World Series appearance after losing their last one, don’t expect a win. You’ll only be disappointed. Embrace the losing. Love it. Let it wash all over you. Use the lemons life throws at you to make a sweet ass glass of lemonade.
Virginia Tech vs. Michigan (2012 Sugar Bowl)
This is the only gut-punch loss I’ve suffered in adulthood and it still stings. Danny Coale’s catch in overtime was clearly a touchdown, even though it got overturned after a lengthy review. This one still ticks me off and makes me hope the official’s bus caught a flat tire on the way home, and they got chased by an alligator while walking to the nearest convenience store. And no, unlike my wish on Hrbek’s grandkids, I’m not joking this time. Four years later, and I still can’t watch the replay on this one without getting pissed.
Lesson learned: Life will build you up only to let you down. It’s a fact. One second, you’re running around the house celebrating with your shirt pulled over your head like the Great Cornholio, then the next, your throwing things around, yelling at the TV. Learn how to temper the highs and lows. Life is like the elevator business. Full of ups and downs. Don’t be dramatic. After all, nobody likes a Real Housewife of Atlanta.