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GOING THE DISTANCE
"LIFE OR DEATH ON EVERY DOWN PART II"
THE GIANT SNOWFLAKE ON FIFTH AVENUE
It's Christmas season. Yet, all I can think of is.....
THE NEXT GAME!
Although I did take Patty on a cruise of midtown Manhattan yesterday, to see the Christmas lights near Rockerfeller Center including the Giant Snowflake suspended over Fifth Avenue, we've been peoccupied with the New York Jets.
We even looked at the giant Christmas tree at Rockerfeller Center. Getting off on a tangent for a moment, I declare a distinct fondness for cruising the streets of the Greatest City In The World, whether it's on my ever-lovin' Harley 74 "Mabel," my old '72 Vette "Mary or Patty's Ford F-150 "Amy." Amy is what we cruised around Manhattan with yesterday to check out the Christmas decorations. It was very cool. I love to drive this truck, whether we're riding high on highways or cruising around The City.
There is just something about the familiarity of streets, highways and byways of a locale that appeals to me. I can't even describe the "why" of the appeal for myself.
I'd have to engage the expertise of Doctor Jennifer Melfi (Tony Soprano's shrink) to unravel the mystery of this appeal. This appeal of familiar roads---not peculiar to present day Manhattan for me (I moved to Manhattan in 1969), for I also had this feeling while living in Queens over forty years ago, riding the familiar streets and highways of Queens and by extension, Nassau County and Suffolk County of Long Island on my '68 Harley "Sally The Bitch" and my unnamed 1964 Vette---is much different than the appeal of hittin' unknown roads. The latter's appeal is terrific too and incomparable in its own way, but the appeal of familiarity speaks to my strong sense of HOME.
I've spoken in previous writing about my strong sense of home when it applies to the apartment we live in,
the building we live in, the neighborhood we live in, the city I live in, and all of this extends onto the saddle of my bike, the cockpit of my car and the cabin of our pick-up.
In Amy's cabin for example, a strong sense of belonging---which I find equivalent to a "strong sense of home"---fills me as soon as I enter Amy's cabin, shut that solid door with a loud "thunk" and start her engine. I might just be a small-town guy who just happens to live in the Big City, except that the city is my small town, if that makes sense.
I have no doubt that there is an intrinsically key element that ties together my strong attachments to my bike, my car, our truck, my house (all New Yorkers refer to their apartments as "houses"), my neigborhood, my city, etc.
That key psychological element is this "strong sense of home."
There are bikers who never become attached to their motorcycles. These are the same bikers who wouldn't blink twice when dumping their rides in favor or another motorcycle. These bikers might change bikes every couple of years without nary a second thought about it.
These bikers don't have a strong sense of home, and never really develop attachments to domiciles, hometowns or individual vehicles. True nomads are these bikers, in every phase of their lives.
No nomad, am I.
I am a biker who is at the opposite side of the spectrum, becoming attached to everything. I believe that a strong sense of loyalty accompanies these feelings of attachment. For example, I am extremely loyal to my 1971 stroker Harley, Mabel. To me, Mabel is the perfect motorcycle, with her 86 cubic inch shovelhead mill and righetous, low-slung 4-speed frame. I can't even visualize in my wildest imagination, having another motorcycle besides Mabel, so impeccable is my loyalty to her. Going the distance with My Girl, is central to my personality. A motorcycle is more than a machine. She is a lifelong partner in iron and steel, and in my view a biker's loyalty to his bike should be unshakeable as if girded by steel.
Brand loyalty, singular vehicular loyalty, loyalty to a certain football team, loyalty to my neighborhood---it's all the same to me.
Nomadic-minded bikers don't name their bikes. Conversely, I do. I name mine because I feel that they live and have souls---as do my 'ole Corvette Stingray and Patty's truck. Would Doctor Melfi be shocked to learn that I talk to my vehicles? Possibly, but who cares? Most people think that bikers are crazy, anyway.
If you pay close attention, you will know that bikes and cars hear you with their metallic hearts.
I even become attached to my cameras. While all of these are important to my life, during football season, football takes precedence.
So yes, while Patty and I can enjoy the outer trappings of Christmas, renting space in the deepest recesses of our minds and at the forefront of our subconscious, is.....
THE NEXT GAME!
Ah, football.....you are so all-consuming for the True Football Fan. You are unmatchable joy when our team is on a roll, and such miserable obsessive torture when our team is on a losing streak. It doesn't even have to be a two-game losing streak for the True Footbal Fan to obsess about The Next Game. All it takes is one loss for doubt, insecurity and all-encompassing despair to creep into the psyches of True Football Fans.
All it takes is one stupid loss by our team to relegate us to a Prison Of Worry for an entire week, until.....
THE NEXT GAME!
It is not until The Next Game! when our team---and therefore we by extension (that is why True Football Fans refer to our teams as"we" and "us" without self-consciousness)---have another chance to redeem "ourselves" by winning. Winning is the only salve that works to soothe the wound we suffer on a losing sunday.
Yup, the only key that can release True Footbal Fans from this week-long Purgatory Of Self-Flagellation after losing, is winning. Winning makes our world ALLRIGHT AGAIN! Winning is the morphine that dulls the pain. Until The Next Chance To Win! rolls around, we read the daily newspaper analyses of why the intricacies of the offense aren't jelling. Is it the incompetence of the offensive cooudinator? Is he being too cute with his schemes for our own good? We leave sports radio on in the background at work. We hear the anguish of callers to radio shows, who are also Jets fans, who spill their guts, anxieties and self-importantly imperfect theories about how they would improve our team. We bristle at every negative word that's uttered about our team by other fans of the same team, even as we might be reviling the team with equal vigor and turpitude, in fits of anger and the heat and pain of despair in the wake of losing.
Two weeks ago, the New York Jets were 9-2 and had the best record in the NFL along with the New England Patriots, and were vying with the Patriots for supremacy not only in the AFC East division, but home field advantage in the playoffs. Then all three phases of our team, the offense, defense and special teams, decided not to show up for the game. The Patriots crushed us. Then last week, we lost to the Miami Dolphins. In the Dolphins game, the defense bounced back great, allowing only 130 yards of offense by the Dolphins and five completions by the Dolphins quarterback. Yet we lost again. We lost because our offense had a terrible game, featuring turnovers and dropped passes. Now, instead of fighting for home-field advantage in the playoffs, "we" are fighting for our playoff lives, just trying to make the playoffs, period.
Football is game that feasts on emotional intensity and confidence, which creates momentum and therefore victories.
The depression of either one of these mental components will negatively affect the other, which will in turn negatively affect demeanor and physical performance---and will therefore slow momentum.
A loss of emotional intensity will also affect fans the same way. Fans' lack of confidence in their team reflects a larger mailaise of the team, for True Football Fans really are the "12th man" of the team, a baromter of how well the team is doing. On the other side of the coin, an elevation of emotional intensity and confidence can lift the performance of a team.
I've heard that the Jets have a new attitude this week, and I hope that this translates into a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers this afternoon. Confidence and high emotion breed momentum, and that can translate into victory.
So, here we are on a sunday morning, on the veritable doorstep of the New York Jets' NEXT GAME! this afternoon. Around 7:00 PM, we'll find out if the pain medication of WINNING! works. We'll find out if we'll have a seven-day reprieve from stress and worry. We'll see if we can once again enjoy other facets of our football-permeated lives, or if we'll have to endure yet another week of retrospective regret and mournful hoping.
Will a therapeutic victory by the Jets spare us the eating away of the flesh of our peace of minds like some ravenous necrotizng fasciitis? Time will tell. C'mon Jets! Get it together and get us a win, so that we can concentrate on Christmas instead of worrying about making the playoffs.
Stay tuned. later