Monday, May 14, 2007

Cubs, Why Must You Torment Me?

I've been biting my tongue all season long, but I can't take it anymore. My Cubbies spent a butt-load of money in the off season and they still suck. Should I be surprised? Not really. Tonight, they blew a 4-0 lead against the Mets, eventually losing 5-4 by WALKING IN THE WINNING RUN! I've been an unwavering, die-hard Cub fan for nearly 35 years, and I'm tired of always waiting until next year. I know it's still early in the season to throw in the towel, and I hope to crap that I end up eating my words, but I'm tired of being cursed by loving a team that is itself cursed.

I blame my Dad. He made me a Cub fan through one small, simple gesture. And I vividly remember the exact moment in my young, impressionable life when I freely gave myself to the curse of being a Cub fan.

I was four years old and in the hospital for a series of skin graft surgeries to repair third degree burns on my left arm. Talk about a parent's nightmare. While at a babysitter's house, I thought it might be a good idea to stick that arm into her wringer washer machine, but soon learned otherwise. A wringer washer machine is an old-fashioned washer equipped with two rollers that "wring" the water out of clothes. It's the equivalent of the modern day spin cycle only nuclear turbofied. So while the machine was wringing the crap out of my arm, I stuck my right thumb in the gears trying to get some leverage to pull my arm out. Off came the tip of my thumb. Did I mention I was four? In runs my babysitter to find me stuck in and bleeding all over her washing machine. She popped the top off the rollers, freed me from her washing machine of death, and held me until my Mom arrived to take me to the emergency room.

They whisked me into one of the exam rooms and immediately began cutting off the long sleeve of my Garanimals shirt. I don't know if they still do this or not, but back in the early 70's, Garanimals were known for making long-sleeve shirts with non-elastic cuffs. That way boys couldn't pull their sleeves up to their armpits and stretch all the elastic out of the cuffs. Moms thought this was awesome. Boys frickin' hated it. Between my Garanimal shirts and Toughskin jeans, I was one miserable hombre. Anyway, because I couldn't roll up my sleeve, we had no idea of the extent of damage awaiting us under the shirt. Besides, everyone's attention was focused on my hemorrhaging thumb. How could anyone but a doctor have guessed there were third degree burns under my sleeve? They cut away my sleeve and the last thing I remember before passing out was, "Hey, why does my whole freakin' arm look like cheese pizza?"

I awoke the next day (or at least I assume it was the next day) to BOTH of my arms heavily bandaged and hanging in slings. I quickly became known around the children's ward as "Popeye" because of my bulging arms. Children can be so cruel. I had several skin graft surgeries over the next several months to repair the damage to my arm. Or maybe it was just weeks...I have yet to meet a four year-old with a good sense of time. Whatever the time frame, suffice it to say that I spent more time in a hospital than any four year-old should.

What does any of this have to do with the Cubs? During one of my stays in the hospital, my Dad, God bless him, brought me a gift, a talisman guaranteeing my lifelong devotion: it was a plastic Cubs batting helmet. It was my first piece of Cub memorabilia and I took it hook, line and sinker. From that moment on, the Cubs were MY team. All because of a stupid royal blue piece of plastic with a red "C" on the front.

He was a well-intentioned soul, my Dad. How on earth could he know he was passing down the curse? Somehow, now that I think about it, he knew. He knew exactly what he was doing. He himself had endured the torment throughout his lifetime, and now he wanted company in his misery. In time he recruited my brother as well, who is now paying the ultimate price. You see, my brother turned coat and became a bandwagon Cardinals fan after they won the Series in the early eighties. Now he's back and he's a Cub FANATIC, the worst kind of torture there is. His daily mood is determined solely by the Cubs final box score. Poor bastard. At least I see the final score, mutter "Stupid Cubs" and then carry on with my day. But it's getting old...really old. I don't want to wait until next year anymore.


The Beast Mom said...

I've never heard this whole story before. That WOULD be a nightmare for a parent (or babysitter). It's bad enough when a kid falls down on the sidewalk or something. Sheez. I would've totally freaked out if I found my kid injured like that.


P.S. You'll never NOT be a Cubs fan. You may cheer for other teams now and then, but your blood runs blue and red.

the battered ham said...

It's true...I'm stuck with the blue/red. I do still follow the M's, though. Whenever I check the box scores, I find the Cubs first, then the M's.