Aisle Of Wit

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One Last First?

As 2021 starts to wind down, I’ve got what will likely be my final in-person sporting event on tap today when I attempt to watch my beloved but depleted New York Football Giants attempt to take on the Los Angeles Chargers at still-spanking new SoFi Stadium.  ‘

When I purchased the tickets last spring, I had every intention of taking someone who at the time was a friend, himself a longtime friend of the beautiful angel whose name I heartbreakingly still cannot mention in these blogs.  We watched a lot of the 2020 NFL season together when we were unable to attend any games in person.  It was great fun to have a couch potato buddy to share my passion with, particularly as my life unwound on an unprecedented path of newness.  Some of the most enjoyable afternoons of my life were with him, the angel, his adorable dog and some of her other football-crazy friends curled up on by far the most comfortable couch I’ve ever sprawled on, sharing inexplicably delicious tacos or pasta salad that she lovingly whipped up and washed down with an adult beverage or two.

Watching the NFL in 2020 without a side bet in fantasy football being played out before mostly fan-free stadia was, frankly, weird.  Due to coronavirus and network tenacity games were frequently moved at the last minute to different weeks or different days of the week.  Regular season games were played on Tuesday nights and Wednesday afternoons.   Crowd noise and following stats on my phone, my usual distractions, were off the table.  But just hanging with intelligent, attractive people was a unique and cherished novelty.  Watching her watch was one of the most pleasant distractions I’ve ever known.   I wanted to thank him for being the connection and the companion I so desperately needed.  The Giants were his beloved uncle’s favorite team, and their late-season push for a playoff spot had us all surprised and giddy, so I thought he’d enjoy being able to root the G-Men on in person.

After a brief period where I thought this friend would remain my friend in spite of his history with her time and precedent set in.  He stopped returning texts and also stopped repaying me portions of the several thousand dollars I foolishly “lent” him to support what turned out to be a debilitating drug habit.  Yes, I was so intent to do right by the angel that I gave her “brother from another mother” “loan” after “loan” to “get himself straight”, driving him around the Valley to non-descript parking lots and alleys to chase down faceless dealers eager to support his habit.

It was, by far, the dumbest thing I’ve ever done to woo someone’s loyalty.  He had no real ability to pay me back in full, and neither apparently had no real intent in being even my friend.   I take full ownership of and deeply regret my inexplicable stupidity.  The substantial money I’ve lost is only one penalty I’ve paid to the guilt and shame I carry for being so misguided.

To his credit, he did go through an extensive rehab treatment session (at least that’s what he told me).  He supposedly repaired his deterioriating relationship with his longtime girlfriend and her precious ten-year-old daughter.   I’m glad he didn’t wind up actually commiting the suicide he frequently threatened, triggering my own dark thoughts in the process.  But he did successfully murder both my dreams of a bromance and any thoughts of any relationship of consequence with the angel.

The Giants come into this game an injury-riddled dumpster fire, starting a third-string quarterback and a slew of untested receivers against a Chargers team that is in the thick of the AFC playoff race.  Led by my starting fantasy quarterback Justin Herbert, it should be a walkover game for the Chargers, likely one I’ll pay more attention to the spectacle of being in person than the game itself.

The Giants are clinging by a sliver to relevance in their own playoff race, mirroring how I feel many days of late.  I’ll still wear their colors, expecting the worst and open to being pleasantly surprised by anything good that does happen.  Of course, I’ll root for Herbert as well, since his performance will be key in keeping me alive for a playoff berth in my new fantasy football league.  My fantasy teams have actually been performing fantastically.  I’m currently in third place in two very competitive leagues, in both cases a top wild-card berth and with chances for a first-round bye,  I haven’t had success like this in many years.  A year on the sidelines apparently has helped me.

Appropriately,  to close a year of new beginnings I’m taking the girlfriend of one of my newfound friends in my new league.   We met by chance last week at her boyfriend’s brother’s dance recital, yet another novelty I experienced for the first time in 2021.  Like my TV companions last year, she seems to be bright, attractive, a passionate fan and a lot of fun.  I’m sure we will have a great time.  (I kinda hope she’s got a friend just like her :))

I can’t think of a better way to close a year where I somehow found the resources to attend a slew of games in person, rebounding from a year where I could not attend a live sporting event, than to see a team I’ve never seen at home (the Los Angeles Chargers) with someone I’ve just met.  If the Giants perform as anticipated,  I’ll probably be tempted to buy a Chargers souvenir by game’s end.  Maybe a Herbert T-shirt for good luck for my fantasy playoffs.  There may still be some more new beginnings left this year.

Until next time…