|Forget Next Year. I’m holding on to 30 years ago.|
The cliché tells us to dance like no one’s watching. As someone who dances only when no one is watching, I can only guess that the intended conclusion of this mantra is that we should disregard everyone else’s judgments and do what makes us happy. Nobody understands that concept better than little kids. Some might say our ability to retain that shameless, childlike appreciation for the moment is what keeps us young at heart.
As Cubs fans, that’s also what keeps us sane.
I can’t speak for all of us, but I started cheering for the Cubs when I was too young to know better and too wrapped up in the joy of youth to care if it was a wise decision. I loved the Cubs, and I cheered like no one was watching. It wasn’t the only foolish road I ever ventured down, but it’s the one I’ve been on the longest.
When I think about my childish mistakes, I’m happy to leave almost all of them in the past. The crush on Morgan Dingwall. My inability to pronounce the letter R sound. The skater haircut. The hunter green and fuchsia plaid overalls or the pastel Easter-egg Skidz. Telling the photographer on Picture Day sophomore year that I didn’t need to consult a mirror before he took the shot. I have no problem leaving all these foibles in the past never to be revisited again. Repeating them wouldn’t make me feel young, it would make me feel stupid.
|I regret the hair, not the hat.|
For some reason, cheering for the Cubs is different. Although I’m reminded on a semi-daily basis that being a Cubs fan betrays any sense of intelligence I may have been able to establish over the course of my life, I can’t help but remember how happy I was the first time I saw with my own naive eyes the lush green blanket of grass that covered Wrigley Field. I can still tap into the wonder that washed over me as I was baptized into the aroma of beer and cigarettes and hot dogs when I first stepped through the turnstiles at the Friendly Confines. I can still taste the Pepsi that was so sweet, sharp, and chock full of ice that it burned my upper lip as I happily drank it in. I still feel the same pride I felt the first time someone explained to me the meaning of die-hard and I decided that was exactly the kind of fan I wanted to be.
There are plenty of times when allowing these feelings of unbridled juvenile rapture (brought on by a generally bad baseball team) to resurface in my grownup consciousness makes me feel like an unequivocal fool. If someone were to know how swept away with glee I become when the Cubs win a game, they’d be required by the unwritten rules of society to call me a moron to my face and in front of my children.
I don’t care. I’m putting it out there: I’m an idiot Cubs fan.
But I don’t cheer for this team because I believe all the thoughts I entertained as a kid. I don’t think the Cubs are good and everyone else is evil . . . not really. I don’t think they’re the best team no matter what and that other teams happen to win every year only because they cheat. So I don’t have a ton of patience with adults who praise or berate this team with all the logic of a six year old.
I also have no love for the people in the organization who would exploit my desire to retain the carefree passions of my youth. When I was a kid I may have had no respect whatsoever for the value of a dollar, but those days are gone. There’s only so much I’m willing to spend to be a fool for a terrible team. I’ll watch and cheer and blog like no one’s reading (which isn’t all too difficult to imagine), but I do expect something before I flatter this team by imitating their propensity for taking on debt in the name of losing.
On the other side of the spectrum of childlike wonder, though, are the people who continue to love this team simply to enjoy the action no matter how dismal, the people who cheer like no one’s watching and then continue with their lives unperturbed by the outcome. I applaud you. I hope to join you.
History and my life insurance actuary tell me there’s a not-too-small chance I’ll die without seeing the Cubs win the World Series. I’d rather not entertain the thought. Instead I’ll continue to let my inner nine year old call the shots during Cubs games without regard for how stupid I may look or sound. It’s how I stay young. It’s how I stay sane. It’s why I remain a Cubs fan. It’s why, inside at least, I will do this dance when the Cubs win while outwardly I laugh with all the mocking force I can muster. (h/t to Cubs Fan Report for the link to this video in today’s report)