It's Monday Night, already. In a single day, Brett Favre tied Joe Namath's 36 year-old Jet record for touchdowns in a game, while the Mets showed once again why they are Fate's pet monkey. Favre's heroics against the equivalent of a Junior Varsity NFL defense were admirable (but was it necessary for us to allow the Cardinals to score 28 points?). I'm grateful that the Cards' Anquan Boldin is alive and well. I was glad too that the Jets' Eric Smith was fined for the hit he put on Boldin, even if the hit also rendered Smith unconscious as well. What a thing to wake up to. You're out 50 grand and you may have paralyzed another human being. Frankly I would rather be out the money, even if it's very close to my annual salary.
I myself have never been unconscious from anything other than experiences rendered through sheer exhaustion or extraordinary intoxication. I've blacked out, sure. I remember passing out in the middle of the Our Father in Mass as a boy, but not for any shady reason. My hangovers in Mass didn't begin until I was in college, which might explain why I eventually stopped going to Mass. Ah me.
Mom still goes to Mass. Yesterday, while the Mets were flailing for their lives, she was waiting in the parking lot of her church. She and Dad had just driven eight hours from a strange trip to South Carolina back to Virginia yesterday and hadn't even bothered to go home yet. There was enough time to make the last Mass of the day, so that's where they were. She called from the parking lot on her cell, wanting an update on the Mets last game of the season.
"What are you doing?" I asked. "Why aren't you at home?"
She didn't answer. I knew what she meant by this. This is what real loyalty looked like. Going to Mass on a wet, late Sunday when the Church still offers dispensation for missing Mass to its weary travelers was what real faith looked like. She had been traveling north for hours, allowing herself to linger in the dusky haze of not knowing how the Mets were doing, dreading and hoping without any news at all. Mom and Dad do not have call waiting on their home phone, nor do they own anything so contemporary as a cell phone with access to the interweb. These were the last people on their block, God bless them, to own a VCR. Was I watching? Yes. The Mets were losing on TBS, even while the Jets were far ahead of the Cardinals - the most beleaguered of NFL franchises - a team whose owner looks like a dilapidated patrician Philosophy professor. It was 3-2 Marlins in the 8th. She wanted an update before she went into a 5 pm Mass.
"I'm sure it would be OK with God if you just went home, Mom."
"I'm going to call you again when Mass is over," she said, without responding. "Tell me how it ends."
When she came out, I had to break the news that not only did the Mets fail to rally, but the Brewers had also rallied against the Cubs. Yet another Mets season had come to its improbable, excruciating end. Shea was now finished for good, left behind in a fog of terrible voodoo, the structure itself now marked by the nightmares witnessed over its two final Septembers. But there was my Mom, obviously crying on the other end of the phone in a church parking lot in Virginia. I felt awful for her and guilty for abandoning a God that she had gone to that day with an open heart. I half think that she went inside church with the same kind of faith that all true fans have. Maybe this time. I've been so loyal for so long that it's got to work out this time. It's got to. It's just got to. Please.
While going to my classroom this morning, a colleague accosted me with the newfound generosity of spirit some Philadelphians are showing Mets fans. It's temporary. "My heart goes out to you," he said. "Thanks," I replied. "But maybe it's just time to destroy Shea." I said this with only a slightly veiled anger, ignoring New York State's prohibitions against demolition by implosion - ignoring too (much to my appalled realization seconds later) that the colleague to whom I was speaking is named "Shay."
Perhaps this vision of a victorious Brett seriously intends to stay, even if I'm wary of feeling good about his big day. How great was it to see Brett Favre throwing in the uniform of the failed ur-Jets - the mighty blue and mustard incarnation of New York's Titans? I predicted they would be 2-2 by now. But questions abound. Does Favre need to play only in yellow pants in order to win? Can somebody get this man a pair of canary slacks?