Sunday, February 03, 2008

No Time for Losers


A guy came out of my neighbor's house a little while ago with a bottle of beer in his hand and stood in the middle of the street.

"Giants!" he shouted to the dark houses. "Whooo!"

And who could argue with that?

The New York Giants, who actually play in New Jersey, had just beaten the heavily favored New England Patriots in a nail-biter of a game that went down to the last 10 seconds.

Just a few minutes ago, a car came down the block with its horn blaring, the occupants clearly celebrating a Giants' victory. I guess tomorrow we'll see stories in the newspaper about rowdy fans being arrested for celebrating a little too much.

Outside of mixed martial arts, I'm not much of a sports fan, but I always cheer for the New York teams, so I'm feeling pretty good--even though I'm sick as a dog with a godawful cold.

I hated football when I was growing up. It seemed that's all the kids at school would talk about, while I preferred to talk about books and movies. Guess I was a weird kid, but I just never got the appeal of football...or baseball...or hockey.

On Sundays during football season my father used to watch games all day, one right after the other. Often he'd bellow at the screen at some botched play, so I spent a lot time in my room.

In high school, the football players all seemed to be loud-mouthed bullies who barreled through the school as if they owned the place.

I remember when the Jets won the Superbowl all those years ago, the famous game where Broadway Joe Namath predicted a Jets' victory with the immortal line "I guarantee it."

My brothers and I went to Jets game one time. We had fantastic seats with a great view of the field and I sat next to this very angry man who was raging at the team's lousy performance that day. (They went on to lose.)

"C'mon, Namath, you $400,000 lemon!" he shouted.

I should pause here to explain to our younger readers that this was back in the days when $400,000 was considered to be a lot of money.

This year the Superbowl was a real contest, not some first quarter blowout that made the commercials the most interesting aspect of the game.

And speaking of commercials, was it me, or did they really bite the big one this year?

I think I saw one or two that made me smile and that was it. Good thing the game was so exciting.

Coca-Cola had an ad featuring two floats from the Macy's parade--Underdog and Stewie from Family Guy--breaking free and fighting over a Coke bottle float.

I wish I could have laughed, but the ad reminded me of a real incident at the Macy's parade about 11 years ago where a float smashed into a streetlight, which fell on and seriously injured a woman in the crowd. I'm curious if I'm the only person who made that connection.

Last year I spent Superbowl Sunday alone at a Moroccan restaurant in my neighborhood, after being stood up by a woman whose name, face, and life story escape me for the moment.

I was feeling a little down that day, but at least I had a job back then, unlike now. And I didn't have a cold either.

I've been under a bit of stress lately and then I got caught in a downpour on Friday night when I went to see the author Russell Banks speak at the Brooklyn Public Library.

I got drenched in the short walk from the train station to the library and wound up throwing out my umbrella.

Banks gave a good talk, but I didn't interact with anyone else in the room, so I essentially spent the evening alone.

I had been avoiding socializing because I lost my job, but yesterday I threw that aside and went to a dim sum brunch in Chinatown that was being hosted by one of my Meetup groups. (I belong to so many of these damn things...)

I had a great time, met some really fine people, and ate all sorts of weird and delicious foods.

The brunch was in honor of the Chinese New Year, which is just around the corner.

This is the Year of the Rat, which sounds a little creepy to a New Yorker, but, according to a web site I just checked, "the Eastern rat is revered for its quick wits and its ability to accrue and hold on to items of value."

The site said "rats are considered a symbol of good luck and wealth in both China and Japan." All well and good, but if I see one in my basement, his luck is going to run out very quickly.

As I spoke with people around the table, I tried to avoid asking the obvious question--what do you do?--because I didn't want to get into what I wasn't doing, which was working.

That's pretty hard to do when you first meet someone, since the big questions when usually are where do you live, where are you from, and what do you in do.

However, a young woman at our table, who currently lives in Chelsea, said she was thinking of moving to my hometown in Brooklyn because...she was being laid off and couldn't afford Manhattan rents.

Immediately I relaxed. I wasn't the only unemployed person in the room. I ate just about anything the waitress put in front of me and the whole thing only cost 15 bucks.

The people at our table were really nice, but with these groups you never know if you'll seem them again. Sometimes instead of making new friends, you wind up meeting agreeable strangers. Still, it was better than sitting at home.

The cold caught up with me when I got home on Saturday and I've been pretty much housebound ever since. I had wanted to check out a Superbowl party some place in the neighborhood, but all this sneezing is really killing my festive mood.

Still, I didn't get sick while vacationing in Hawaii, like my poor aunt did, so I'm thankful for that much.

This year has certainly gotten off to a rough start--kind of like the Giants this season.

Now I just have to get around the misery, head straight for the end zone, and score big in the Year of the Rat.

Here's hoping...whoo!

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