Me, Watching Tennis

Me, Watching Tennis
Me, Watching Tennis

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Train Ride Home, Day 5 of the Rogers Cup, and a Meditation on Fandom

The train is pulling out of the station. It’s day Five of the Rogers Cup and it is all being taped on the DVR back out our house. I’m exhausted, although we managed to get to bed early last night. We rode the elevator down with Soderling and his fine ladyfriend – he looked really, really tired – and then Monfils walked RIGHT by us- Rockytoad loved that. Then I had the great fortune of spotting Almagro- the guy is an absolute Bull, thick as a house.

I now did some serious math, and having done that same math incorrectly earlier this week or month, I finally figured out that this is Year Five of our Canada sojourns. Earlier, I though it was Year Four. Every year I do this trip, and every year I say to myself, maybe next year I won’t go. I spend a lot of money, it’s work, the packing, the passports, the day on the train (which is kinda romantic, I love trains, actually)-- and the minis are troopers and frankly enjoy it more than they did at age 4 and 7!—but it’s extra work taking care of them, getting the picky Cheeewad fed, sending them off to the men’s room alone, finding hotel card keys, dealing with the rain, where are the autograph balls, and so on and so forth.

But next year I am going, for sure. If I stop doing this crazy trip, Montreal will be my farewell trip. It’s the better event, the more manageable City (much less sprawl.) And how can I stop going, the year Nalbandian doesn’t show up?

Here’s a quick meditation on fandom, too. I spend a lot of time thinking about these guys, my guys, my tennis heroes. I know they need me in some way – if no one watched tennis, would the tennis ball make a noise? Perhaps, but no one would make a living making that noise. And yet, even if there is this mutual –they need me or they couldn’t be tennis players- I think about them and they don’t know who I am!!! Yes, folks, they have no flipping idea who I am. And I know sooo much about them, in my own way. I know Rafa speaks the Mallorcan Catalan, I know Nalbandian lost relatives in a freak elevator accident and was so emotional playing the tournaments at that time. I know what music they listen to. I’m pretty sure I know they are all uncircumsized (see my important posts links). But they know nothing about me. And that’s just the un-mutually thing about being a fan. So to walk by them, to see them in the flesh (much much better than TV), to maybe have them glance at you, to have them smile at you, is some vindication. I exist too, man! And, dude, you are sooo much hotter in real life.

That said, as the general tone of this blog attests, the most important thing about being a fan is a sense of humor. If you can’t feel the ridiculousness of loving people who don’t know you exist, then you are missing the point. Of course, the complete lack of mutuality in many ways is probably the point- to love someone from afar, to worship them from afar, is to be back in high school, staring at the senior star quarterback and even though you are a lowly freshman, you love him with an intensity that can’t be replicated in real life, in a real relationship, a marriage, no matter how good of a marriage you have. Indeed, our fantasies and dreams are potent drugs, tied to the blossoming of loves that we had as young young people, the unrequited loves we all go through and then must discard. But who doesn’t want that pang, that breathless thrill, of loving from afar? Yes, it’s a much bigger high, watching and worshipping athletes, much bigger than arguing over whose turn it is to do the dishes and discuss whether the bills are paid. Life is sweet. It’s the only thing we have. But we need to dream like we need to eat and sleep and drink wine and buy shoes with crazy four inch heels that you can only wear to, like, the restaurant across the street. I write all this wistfully, as the flat Canadian countryside goes by, revealing a train yard full of train cars forlornly piled on top of each other, that each have the sign “Do Not Hump” pasted on them.

Yes, Do Not Hump. Even trains need reminders about this fact of life. And even trains, it seems, want to hump! Or are about to be humped, and need to remind people not to hump them! I teased my minis endlessly while they got autographs (they got Monfils yesterday after a practice match, they got Gonzo after his doubles loss!, the got Murray after his win against Wawrinka…) that I was gonna ask Verdasco to sign my boobs. They actually feared I would do it, sorta. (I’ve got a good poker face.) The look on their faces!! But also, they know I’m full of shit. “Yeah, man, I’m gonna ask him to sign my boobs!” Then Rockytoad quoted Will Ferrell from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (imitating the accent perfectly), After he signs a baby’s forehead, he goes, “You’re not gonna want to wash that forehead, you hear me now?” Then we all cracked up.

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