Note

NOTE: Commentary is made as a private citizen and not as Regional Coordinator for Silent No More or Leader of Rachel's Hope, unless otherwise stated.

Monday, August 29, 2016

FANTASY FOOTBALL FRENZY - A SHORT STORY


It had arrived:  What I had yearned for throughout the monotonous winter, spring and summer…NFL Fantasy Football season!!!!!


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This year I was going to be fully prepared. I was going to have the team of teams. I was confident my husband would understand my need to watch the NFL live draft in April without interruption and more than willing to stay home for those two critical days, watch the kids AND pay for my hotel and room service. He would also appreciate the importance of hiring a live-in housekeeper/nanny/cook for the month of August while I pull up two years worth of player performance records, create spreadsheets, graph results and watch all pre-season games, monitor trades, cuts, and acquisitions.


Now, it was obvious to me this strategy was totally workable; however, my husband evidently didn't understand the intricacies involved in this endeavor. Relegated to mundane domesticity forced me to squeeze in prep whenever I could. I sincerely apologize to the man carrying the hot cup of coffee that I ran into while watching the NFL draft on my cell phone at the dry cleaners. I didn't mean to walk out of the grocery store without paying. I got a tweet about some shocking news regarding a contract dispute, and it could have involved one of my team hopefuls. And to my bridge group - I didn’t mean to say I couldn't play because I had a rare form of migraines that only attack in August and necessitate the need to stay indoors, alone, in the dark to keep them at bay.

As for my husband, I do not apologize to him for having to repaint the interior of our house on evenings and weekends. While intensively studying stats, I must not have heard the kids mention “walls” when asked if they could draw something with magic markers. Had he been more accommodating, that would have been avoidable along with the all the meal delivery costs. It wasn't safe for me to be around open flames and sharp utensils at such a crucial phase of my fantasy career.


 
DRAFT DAY

"Battle stations! It was time for me to put all my painstaking preparation into play. I was successful in convincing my husband that after draft prep and draft day, my dereliction of domestic duties would cease. He reluctantly let me use his office which housed his beloved antique oak desk, but most importantly, his state-of-the-art high-speed computer with quality video conferencing capability...how could I possibly be victorious with a five-year-old, slower-than-molasses laptop in the all-important player selection process. He even said I could lock the office door.


The time is drawing near...the combat environment needed to be perfect. Remove husband's paperwork from the desk and shove in a drawer - check (they weren't in any specific order, right?). Curtains closed – check. Phone ringer off – check. Computer on – check. Sweatband on – check. Jersey and jeans on – check. Draft analysis list – check. Note-pads – check. Handful of pencils with erasers – check. Bottle of wine, no, two bottles of wine – check. 2-pound bag of M & M's – check. Box of tissues – check. Portable toilet (just kidding)..., last but not least A prayer for guidance – check. Now don't go off on me about that last step, it is absolutely appropriate asking for divine intervention.


I hugged my kids, kissed my husband and with the fearless demeanor of a quarterback facing a six-foot-nine, four-hundred-pound defensive end, marched into the office. The door closed - lock clicked. I had arrived - fully entrenched in my private draft strategy fortress. As Harry Connick Jr. said in Independence Day, “Let's kick the tires and light the fires”!


I stared at the screen, watching the commissioner pace nervously waiting for everyone to announce themselves … Worthy adversaries all. A white-board on the wall was pristine, except for black lines that created the draft chart. There were twelve columns and sixteen rows. Each column will show the team name.

Let me digress for a minute ... Before the season even starts, everyone involved tries to come up with a clever team name. I'm not one for cute nor am I one for something that has “mature” content. I wanted my name to spawn fear in my opponents, something that described my fantasy prowess. Yep, that's what I wanted but in a "mom" moment I thought it would be a bonding experience if I allowed my children to select the name. For crying out loud....what was I thinking? The Scoobydooers – really? Be afraid, be very afraid.

The first column of the draft board will hold the name of the team that won the coveted first-round draft pick (Please God, have it be me), the second for the second pick, etc. The order of the draft will be determined very scientifically. A neutral observer will pull a team name out of one hat (laughing hysterically when seeing mine) and out of another hat, the draft position. The process continues until all twelve of us are assigned. The carnage will then commence!  Each one of us in our assigned order picks one player for each of the sixteen rounds. It's time consuming, gut-wrenching thus the need for vino-fortification.



All combatants were finally present and accounted for. I sat quietly, perused my list of champions, and said a quick prayer, asking God for the first round draft pick. I know I should have just said, “Thy Will Be Done”, but this is football. Vino fortified, I grabbed a handful of M&Ms and shoved them in my mouth. The observer took the hats, reached in and called out the first team and position. There was no laugh, so I knew it wasn't me..fifth round. Whew! Still in the running. He continued this six agonizing times.  The first round pick was still somewhere in the dark recesses of the hat. I was still in contention....my hands were shaking, I took in more vino-fortification. He reached in again....chuckled and announced, “Scoobydooers." My heart skipped a dozen beats; I mumbled another quick prayer....draft number.......1. I almost fell off my chair. I jumped up and accepted my award. I thanked God, my husband, my children, my parents and my first-grade teacher (huh?).

There's only a brief celebration...the time of discernment had come. While the remaining losers got their measly draft numbers, I readied myself for the all-important first pick. I went to grab the meticulously prepared list that was going to send me to victory and hit my bottle of wine. My vino-fortification turned into the grapes of ruination, obliterating every neatly written name and position. (note for next year - white wine). I let out such a primal scream my husband almost broke down the door. I assured him everything was fine (sob), explained I was just a little emotional. Yeah, emotional More like doomed.  I took a deep breath, relaxed and trusted God would help me mentally reconstruct the list before the draft begins. For good measure, I asked Him to forgive me for calling all the non number-one draft pickers losers.


The white board glared on my computer screen, the dry-erase marker in my square...the first square, as I am number one.... (mwahaha). I scribbled down names that I could remember (thank you, God). Then I heard, “Scooby, you're up!” yep you guessed it, now I had an abbreviated stupid name. Oh well, no time for vanity. I sat straight up in my chair, and with a commanding voice, declared my first choice....a highly respected running back that broke all the rushing records the year before. I heard groans coming out of the speakers, yep, got a good one (nanner, nanner, nanner)! Now I had to wait for the other eleven to choose. 


I was wringing my hands and sweat beaded up on my forehead (you were wondering why I put on a sweatband, huh?) The next guy picked a quarterback. A QUARTERBACK? No one EVER picks a quarterback in the first round. How stupid can one person be? Okay, I know, name calling is immature, and I planned in advance to address my draft attitude at reconciliation the following Saturday, but a quarterback???? Not just any quarterback either, he took MINE. Now, what? I knew I had another on my list but couldn't for the life of me remember his name. I resigned myself to the fact I would remember it when I heard someone else selfishly scoop him up. (sigh).

 
The selection continued and fortunately the others I remembered from the list were still up for grabs. Being the fantasy guru I was, I selected another running back. No moans this time, did I miss something? Was I supposed to get a receiver? More sweat, my jersey was sticking to the chair. I was going to indulge in more fortification but didn't want to chance it...I hadn't even cleaned up the mess I had already made - there was no time for that nonsense...one does have priorities. This excruciating selection process went on for hours. I won some and lost some. Along with my magnificent running back I was able to get some decent receivers and a formidable defense. My tight-ends were questionable. I drew a blank on the names. They drowned in that river of wine, so I had to wing it. One of my quarterbacks I had wanted for back-up ended up being my primary ...but that's the way the pigskin bounces. I finally had a team, the mighty Scoobydooers. One week to showtime. 



TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

I got up from the sweat-soaked chair and started the clean-up. That's when I saw it. The STAIN. A big blotch of red wine soaked through the oak. It looked like the State of Florida with the bottom of the state at the edge of the desk...the edge of the desk???? I looked down and there on his plush white (I warned him) carpet … A red stain, not looking like the rest of Florida; more like a red starfish with uneven legs (are those things called legs?). I saw my life flash before me. I knew my husband would kill me, or worse yet, make me quit my fantasy league. I quietly unlocked the door; it was dark in the house; thankfully everyone was sleeping. I foraged underneath the kitchen sink to find a magical potion that would miraculously sweep Florida off the map. Brillo pads were out – so were the remnants of bar soap (why do we keep those?). The only workable item was the heavy duty carpet spray. I tip-toed back to the room of destruction and began sopping up the remains on the desk and carpet then surveyed the damage. Again I said a prayer for a miracle.


The carpet cleaner worked (thank you God - and also my husband for going first class with stain guard). Expelling that little piece of evidence gave me a lift until I looked at the desk. Florida was still there, and maybe that's where I should head before morning. I then had a thought... if Staples or Office Depot was open twenty-four hours I could buy a nice, expensive desk cover as a surprise for my husband. Reality check - someone would hear the car starting, and I'd be exposed. Maybe I could move the printer....it would be more work-friendly having it closer to the monitor, right? What if I just put his stack of papers on it and when he discovered the blemish I could blame the kids? Red wine – cherry Kool-Aid....hmm. Then it happened.  A sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I looked up and told God I got the message loud and clear.



I mustered up courage and climbed that long dark stairway. I summoned all the tears I could and woke the sleeping giant. He saw my tear-stained cheeks, along with the drenched sweatband and jersey. That sweet man grabbed my hand and said, “Honey, what happened, is everything all right?” I just stood there, letting the tears flow and snot drip out of my nose...then I opened my mouth and blubbered out the fateful words  .... ”irunedrdesk."

I wanted to get it out as quickly as possible. He stood up, quietly went down that long dark stairway and into the violated space. I was at his side with my head down like a scolded child. I didn't dare look up to see the blood pulsing through the veins on his forehead, a sure sign of dire consequences. His head shook from side to side and then he turned to me. Here it comes. I braced myself and said another prayer for bravery in the face of uncertain retribution. His forehead wasn't bulging out as expected. His eyes weren't glaring either. He surely must have been in shock. The silence seemed to last longer than the draft. Then he took my hand again (yep, he's throwing me out) and I heard him say in a calm, sweet voice, “I know you didn't do it on purpose, accidents happen, I'll buy a nice desk cover tomorrow.” At first, I was angry because he stole my idea, but that feeling was tempered by the relief of me still being alive, in my home and able to continue my championship season.


We walked out of the office hand-in-hand, turned off the light, went up the staircase to our bedroom. After we said our nightly prayers (mine included a massive amount of gratitude) and crawled into bed, I rolled over, laid my head on his chest, stroked his cheek and said, "Honey, we both know I've been distant lately and neglecting you. I think it's only fair that I make it up to you." I snuggled closer and whispered in his ear..................




"I'll share my winnings because I finally got a top-notch running back and I'm gonna kick butt!” I then rolled over and fell into a deep sleep ~ with dreams of the Superbowl.


What did you think I was gonna say????  Shame on you!






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