Mom, you’ve really got to stop that shit.
My little cocoon has been invaded. Contrary to popular opinion, these Nets have not driven me to insanity yet. For eight beautiful games, they’ve actually kept me occupied. My writing has had a focus as opposed to my getting bored with a novel thread, or a short story, or deciding whether I should revise that other novel and really put it out there. There are no delusions involved with Infinite Nets. The column is going to take off, I’ll be discovered, and all of these posts will be bundled together by a major publisher into a tasteful paperback. It will sell three million units, and I will probably quit my job. These are reasonable goals. This is all healthy, so while everybody loves to joke that the Nets will drive me to madness, I would like to point out that I am actually the most sane.
But there is an agitator in the midst, the one thing that can disrupt all my positive vibes and energy. My mother is in town. This can go one of two ways: pleasantly or disastrously. It’s a binary, and the past three times I’ve seen her, things have gone well, so that means we’re due for a disaster. In the past I’d applied a 60 hour rule. That was the point where I’d noticed that she could no longer be on her best behavior. Two and a half days. Well that’s not fair. She could potentially give you 70 hours. Hell, in theory she could go forever, but my point is after 60 hours, you are in no position to bitch. And I tell myself that I don’t want to fight or yell, but she just…finds a way inside. And it’s usually when she tries to take an interest in what I’m experiencing.
So despite the fact that she is a 64 year old woman who has raised two boys and a husband who all watched sports, my mother watches a basketball game with the naivety and wide eyed wonder of an otter.
Are the Nets just playing well, or are the Rockets playing poorly?
“It’s just a 10 point lead in the 1st quarter. That’s actually not a very big deal in basketball.”
Ball clangs off rim.
Chris Paul hits a corner three.
Who is that? Is he good? Get him off the court.
Every play gets a reaction, be it an expression or a grunt. Also, she farted a few times. She thinks she embedded them into the couch, but I could pick those dumpling and egg roll farts out of a lineup. Possession by possession the Rockets chip away at a 14 point lead, and while I wouldn’t have cared yesterday and I wouldn’t care on Monday, I am suddenly feeling the pressure of the Nets failing to live up to expectations.
Is Carmelo Anthony still good?
“No, mom. Carmelo is ass.”
But he just hit a three.
“It’s one shot, mom.”
Carmelo hits another three.
He just hit another three.
God. Damn it.
Sometime during the third quarter she asked for the Wi-fi password. Because I am a tired dad, I have not changed the password from the preset one that came with the cable box. It’s lost as one long string among five or six other lines, and all my devices had been connected years before, so I don’t remember, but I tell her to try, and she’s complaining that none of them work, while the Rockets eventually overtake the Nets and open up a lead that grows to eight points.
Do I care that the Nets are losing? I do. Why do I care? I have no earthly idea.
Meanwhile, contractors are working on replacing the pipes upstairs, my daughter wants a bath, and there is no hot water. The wife demands to know when the contractors will stop banging away at the boiler. I don’t know. She wants to know how we’ll give our girl a bath with only lukewarm water. I don’t know. We most likely won’t tonight, in spite of her calling out “bath” and removing her shirt at the edge of the tub.
None of these passwords work.
I’m already getting a headache from the wine, and I need to pay attention, but those familiar pangs of disappointment that I have known in other sports has crept into basketball. I just want a win. Not because I want to see quality basketball. Not because I’m worried that they will need to keep pace with the teams fighting it out for the 7th and 8th spots in the Eastern Conference. But because a loss will just be one more annoyance. One more imperfection.
They lost. It took a little doing, but I was able to find peace in the loss. It’s Friday night. I’m not going to work tomorrow. In theory, that might be a good thing, allowing me to relax, possibly go on a bagel run tomorrow. Though it’s going to rain, and my mom will be here. And another set of contractors is going to look at the wiring in the ceiling from noon to two when my daughter will be taking her nap.
Maybe I will find my peace yet. I felt cheated for a second, but as I suck down some warm vodka, sitting on the edge of the bed while my wife and mother cackle at a DVR of Will & Grace, things make sense again. I’m sweating my ass off in this sweatbox apartment, but it’s a little quieter. My blood pressure has gone down. My eye has mostly stopped twitching. I bask in the refractory period of rage that had been stifled, impressed that I had somehow ridden the wave of aggression without crashing and falling into it’s undertow. It’s all going to be fine.
But I could have really used a win.
The Brooklyn Nets are now 3-6, and are tied with the New York Knicks for 9th place in the Eastern Conference.