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12/31/01 Went the Neighborhood
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07/28/01 The Bomb

I'm Taping It!

I follow sports not like a rational man but like a physicist seeking the cure for cancer. It relieves in me a need akin to peeing: If I go too long, my sports bladder ruptures, sending toxins through my body.

By the time the playoffs begin, I'm in a way. I post the TV schedule on the wall so that everyone knows my availability.

Sometimes, though, I have no choice but to tape a game, and that's where the trouble begins.

Maxim 1: There is absolutely nothing you can say about a game that will not in some way damage my viewing experience.

A friend named Mike -- and you know who you are, Mike -- brought up the Dodger game. I told him that I was taping the game and to kindly drop the subject. He did. Right on my biggest fear.

"Let's just say that it was a really close game."

You mean close as in the team with 4 will not score if it is 4-2 in the last inning? You mean was as in the game is already over, so the team with 2 will not send the game into extra innings, at which point the game would still be on television?

I recall Mike's retarded eyes as I explained these things, how he tilted his head like the RCA dog.

What compels a man to reveal the outcome of a game? It actually pained Mike to keep the score to himself. It was all he could do to relieve the tension by merely telling me how close the game was. Is this the converse of don't-kill-the-messenger?

Now that I'm all worked up, What does it profit a man to know the outcome of a game without having watched it? If you don't read the book, why inquire about its ending? It's small talk alongside "how's the weather," and it ruins things for those of us who relish the drama.

Here's one: I had to tape the Lakers game because I owed my girl a night of merengue. After all, she had cleaned up after me on 6,000 consecutive nights.

In the car, I killed the radio because DJs love to reveal the score. Throughout the evening, I abstained from looking at the television. If you've ever taped a game, you know that the score is always on the screen waiting for you to get careless and glance.

I drank Cosmopolitans (Kool-Aid), merengued the night away, and, near midnight, grabbed my honey to leave. I had a giddy feeling inside, going home to watch the game. Maybe it was the vodka.

One step out the door, a bouncer called to his buddy, "Hey, who won the Lakers game?"

Before I could plug my ears, the other said, "Lakers killed 'em."

And if that schmo weren't 6-foot-15, I would have killed too.

I have since boycotted the Westlake Inn and dancing in general.

Here's another: I was taping the Stanley Cup because I had a hockey game of my own at the Rollerdome. The rink would be teeming with enthusiasts. People would be talking hockey, the game would be on TV, and I would have to take measures.

I arrived wearing squishy ear stopper thingies and a T-shirt reading, I Taped It. I didn't make eye contact for fear of people's expression. If someone in a Devils jersey were pouting, for instance, that would be too much information.

I skated with my ears plugged until I realized that people were shouting for the puck. (I hog the puck sometimes, but only because others can't be trusted with it.)

The second I removed the squishies, a referee called to a friend in the stands, "What's the score?"

Toxins shot through my body.

Admittedly, my neurosis isn't fair to those around me. It isn't pleasant to chat with a guy who forbids you to use any word rhyming with "score."

On the other hand, I've learned some things about social psychology. For starters, those most likely to divulge the score of a game are the ones in direst need of gray matter. Mike. Funny that the people who are always running at the mouth have the least to say.

Most important, I've learned that there are a thousand things that can go wrong when you tape a game, and you'd be lucky to think of fifty of 'em.


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