My fiance doesn't drink. He's never done drugs. He doesn't look for a thrill in gambling. And when we pull up to a red light next to a car in which someone is smoking, we have to roll up the windows because he gets a headache. But everyone has a vice. And Jon's has to do with sports.
This evening we went to a very nice restaurant in Bucktown, a gelateria and a Wrigleyville bar, dressed pretty respectably. I even had on a smidge of makeup. Jon had a full beard. On exactly HALF of his face. For that, I blame the Los Angeles Lakers.
Let's start at the beginning.
I grew up in a pretty typical Indian family. Except for the fact that we all gathered in the family room for football every NFL Sunday even though roughly half of us could not care less about the score. My brother would run around in front of the tv wearing t-shirts he'd marked up with a Sharpie to replicate his favorite players' jerseys, throwing a nerf football to himself and calling the play-by-play in an increasingly higher-pitched voice. When Jim McMahon hurt his shoulder, my brother would suddenly need to have his shoulder wrapped with an Ace Bandage. In fact, one time when he was four he snuck upstairs and called our pediatrician in tears to ask him to fix a quarterback's injuries. When his team was close to playoff elimination, he'd scoot all the way up to the screen, drop to his knees and start praying. His devotion was undying. And to be honest, it was sort of cute. But we're talking every single weekend. A few years later, just in time for the three-peats, he got really into basketball without losing any of his football fervor. And then he added baseball to the mix. At that point I was safely away at college, far from the madness.
And yet somehow, among all the men in the entire United States and abroad, I managed to procure for myself the one that is just as insane as my brother. In September Jon is going to marry me, but he and sports are celebrating their 30-something-th anniversary.
Generally, this is all right by me. I'm happy to sit on the couch with my sports-obsessed loved ones as long as there's something else I can do. Perhaps the reason I have such an affinity for knitting is because that is what my mother did on those neverending Sunday afternoons of timeouts and scrimmages. You're "spending time with them" while they generally just scream at the television; you might as well make some headway on that baby blanket for your friend. Don't get me wrong, I actually like sports (basketball especially). It's just when Major League Baseball season overlaps with National Football League season, which overlaps with National Basketball Association season (please don't let him get into college football or else there goes Saturdays), there is no such thing as an offseason. Sometimes a girl just needs a breather.
Things have been tense around here for the last week. While the Los Angeles Lakers have had their fair share of Championships, they weren't expected to sail right into the final round this year. And that was making my number-one L.A. fan very nervous. So nervous, in fact, that he vowed to the whole world (Okay, just on Facebook) that he was going to shave off the right side of his beard if the Lakers didn't pull out a victory on Friday night.
I'm sure you know what happened. As the yelling and gnashing of teeth grew louder and stronger, I steeled myself for the inevitable grumpy mood that would linger for at least a week, making food not taste as good, television not as funny and smiles nowhere to be seen--and nothing I do will fix it. I posted my own lament on Facebook about how the Lakers essentially ruined my weekend. People think that's an exaggeration, but when one of his teams doesn't perform up to par, there truly is a palpable dampening in the zest for life around these parts. It's kind of a downer.
Suddenly, the buzzing of the electric razor started up in the bathroom. Initially I thought okay, so he will Victor/Victoria the beard, take a picture, post it and then shave the rest. Right? Nope.
But it actually didn't bother me. What, were people going to stare? Don't they already because we're sort of an odd couple? Nothing new there. We went about our evening and the next day. My mom didn't even notice right away. All he had to say was that he'd lost a bet. He didn't mention that it was with himself. We met up with his sister M and her husband in the city, going to three separate places. Nobody said a thing. I didn't even see anyone notice. He wanted to prove that he doesn't go back on his word, so he had a picture of us taken in the restaurant (where we were sitting at one long community table, by the way) and posted it on the Internet for all to see. And I'm there, smiling right next to him. No big deal.
Except now I can't help but feel like it was sort of big. I'll never know for sure, but I wonder if he was gauging my reaction to being out and about with him looking a tiny bit ridiculous. To see if I'd look around sheepishly or make him shave before leaving the house. Sort of a test.
I hope I passed.