So that is the story of how I became a sportscaster, and it is also the best way I can think of to explain why I love sports so much. There is nothing in the world better than investing everything into something that means absolutely nothing.
I often read about people whose lives are filled with tragedy, civil war, poverty, hunger, and I think how much better off the world would be if everyone could spend all that energy worrying about football. Maybe I'm onto something with that. Maybe the solution to all our problems can be found in irrelevance. Try it. The next time the mortgage is due and the baby is crying and you're late for work and the car in front of you is taking up both lanes--that is the best time to fret over someone dropping a ball you care too much about. It may not make your troubles disappear but it might make them blurry, distort the focus, at least a little. Maybe, on a tough day, that is the most we can ask for. Maybe that's what I should be passing along to my child someday. Maybe the best thing any of us can wish for is just a little blurriness.
There is nothing at all blurry about the way I feel today. The word of the day is anxious and my anxiety is not at all blurry; it is crystal clear. I've felt this way since the phone rang too early this morning, and my feelings of anxiety have only grown as the day has worn on. It has reached the point where I am so anxious I can hardly sit still. In keeping with the intention of this journal, I am writing in hope that trying to explain the events of the day will relax me.
It was my Aunt Ada who woke us up this morning, on a bad phone line. It sounded like she was calling from a cell phone in the Brazilian rain forest. When she told me she was on an airplane my heart started to race. Why would my aunt be calling from an airplane?
"Darling," she said, in her whiny soprano, "grab a pencil."
"Take down these numbers. Three, nine, twenty-two, forty-six, fifty-five, and sixty-one."
She was shouting; I can only imagine how loud it must have been if you were seated beside her.
"Those are the numbers on my lotto ticket," she said. "I put the ticket in the freezer, under the mushroom barley."
"I didn't make the soup, darling. It's Tabatchnick."
"Aunt Ada, why are you telling me this?"
"In case the plane crashes," she said. "I share the tickets with the girls from mahjong, and if I go down they'll never cut the family in on my share!"
I looked at the clock. It was five in the morning.
"Aunt Ada, do you know what time it is?"
"What am I, blind?" she asked, in the way that every member of my family answers questions with questions. "I'm on the red-eye to Vegas."
My father's sister was widowed young. She has no children, but she does have a bit of a gambling problem. For instance, she always spends the week of the Super Bowl in Las Vegas so she can make every prop wager known to man. (Last year she made me ask my research department to do a study on the history of the coin toss.)
"Have you got the numbers, darling?" she asked.
"I have them, Aunt Ada."
"All right, go back to sleep. If you wake up to terrible news, make sure you watch the lotto tonight."
I hung up and sat bolt upright in bed, which awoke my pregnant wife. Somehow she had managed to sleep through the entire conversation, but my sitting up woke her.
"What the hell is going on?" she asked.
"It's nothing, honey," I told her. "Go back to sleep."