Today’s blog post has been penned by Jonathan Blaustein, a Grover from overseas! Pretty serious story about tech. Enjoy!
It’s Monday morning, May 19th, and I still don’t know who won the FA Cup. Come again? That doesn’t make any sense. Not after I bragged to much of the known world that I’m the new American Arsenal superfan.
I guess the appropriate question here is, have you ever heard of a jinx? Or is that a mostly-American term? It means a hex or curse, and that’s what I gave myself in my very first Le Grove blog post. Yes sir.
I had to blab about how I’d seen every televised Arsenal game in 3 years. Oh look at me. I own a DVR. I get to snatch pixels of polished football prowess out of the ether, ensnare them on a hard drive, and access them when and how I like. (It’s so 21st Century I’m afraid a big LOLCat will fall out of the sky and crush me where I sit.)
For me, it’s little more than Reality Television. My, is that Aaron Ramsey handsome. I wonder if he’s going to fight with Jack next year, when they battle for first choice box-to-box? Or maybe young Alex will surprise them both and steal the job when they’re not looking?
According to Pedro, it’s all about the match day experience. Drinking beer with your buddies. Singing along at the top of your lungs. Waiting years for something great to happen. Earning your joy through long years of suffering.
That’s where the jinx came in. I hadn’t earned my stripes. Sure, I used to go to Brooklyn Nets games as a kid, back when they played in the swamps of (New) Jersey. We had season tickets, and I’d go all the time, despite the fact that the team was only marginally better than a random collection of 7th Graders.
And then there was the time my Dad, brother and I flew all the way to California to see the New York Giants, who play the other kind of football, in the Superbowl XXI. That my old man forgot the tickets back home, and we had to talk our way into the world’s biggest sporting event, made the story that much sweeter. The Giants victory that much greater.
Typically, fandom is about picking your local team when you’re a kid and sticking with them. Sports breed loyalty like locker-room showers breed athlete’s foot. It’s just the way things are. Only now, in our GlobalizedInternetFaceChat times, could someone like me, living in the middle of nowhere, attach himself to Arsenal and not let go.
In other words, I didn’t pay my dues. You guys have been waiting for a trophy for 9 long years. I’m assuming you got it, but, as I said, I’m not sure yet. Think about that. In 2014, Drake sings that funny song about trophies, and the last time Arsene raised one, Drake was probably still wearing braces and having his Mommy drive him around Toronto.
I tried to skip the line. Three years of watching games, and I thought I could feel your pain.
Apparently, the Football Gods didn’t agree. Because, when I got home from my son’s soccer game on Saturday, popped half a marijuana bonbon and got ready to watch the FA Cup Final, a funny thing happened.
It wasn’t there.
Sure, the DVR said FA Cup, when I pressed play. But what I saw were some large MMA fighters wrestling around on the ground like a couple of ravens battling over a raccoon carcass. There was no little white ball in sight. No swaying Wembley crowds.
No sir. The technology I’d been extolling just last week let me down. And there was nothing I could do about it. The game was over, and I missed it. Entirely. I was so mad I almost flung a glass against the wall, like they do on television. I almost called my wife a slew of ugly names, though she had nothing to do with it. (That was on DISH network, or Fox Sports 2, or whoever programs the software. Some nameless asshole I’ll never meet.)
Instead of screaming, I put on my sneakers and ran up and down a very steep hill. Then I took a nice, hot bath and put the whole thing out of my mind entirely. It seemed the only sane option in a mad world.
That was Saturday afternoon. Since then, I haven’t even gone on the Internet, such was my desire not to obsess about missing the biggest game in 9 years. There would be no blood stream coursing with adrenaline. No psychotic gripping the couch-arm during a string of penalties. (If it came to that.)
The victory, or the loss, would belong to you guys. Not me. I’m going to have to wait until the next battle for silverware. And when it comes, it will be that much sweeter because of this faux-tragedy. Are there grand life lessons to be learned here? Of course there are. Instead of watching football for 2 hours, and then reading about the result for the rest of the weekend, I shut off the computer entirely. I exercised. Cooked meals. Played with my children. Swung in a hammock in the sunshine.
Basically, I acted like the guy I was almost 3 years ago, before I ever heard of Arsenal. I pretended to be “that” me, before I picked up this powerful addiction to the red and white from North London. I even asked myself if I should let the whole thing go entirely? It’s not like I don’t have American teams to root for. (Or, this summer, the American team.)
I gave it some thought, and decided I want to keep my new hobby. Just like coaching my son’s youth games, watching Arsenal connects me to my own childhood, when I played DM like a less-coordinated Matthieu Flamini. Watching the games has become a new-fangled form of time-travel,
bringing the joy back from the 20th Century, but without the attendant muscle aches and calcium deposits.
Watching people like Ramsey figure out life, in front of our eyes, is inspirational. It makes us want to improve at our own jobs. Or become a better parent. Watching horrible tactics, like Arsene’s shit show at Chelsea, makes me re-think the way I conduct my own business. It’s a learning experience, as much as a horror for the eyes. (Or so I tell myself. I turned that game off the second I saw the Ox reach up with his hand.)
So there you have it. The Universe has kicked me in the groin for my hubris. For announcing to a bunch of global megafans that I was qualified to entertain or enlighten you, when I had not suffered properly. (Which, of course, is the only qualification that matters to Arsenal fans, post-Invincibles.)
Now, I have. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to fire up the Ipad to see how we did on Saturday. Clearly, if Arsenal choked, I’ll have to revise my first article which entrusted the near future to Arsene. But I doubt that happened. In my mind, just now, Arsenal beat Hull City, and the celebrations were glorious.