Friday, October 16, 2009

That Cal!

"If people could stay out there seven days in the cold and the rain to have an opportunity to enjoy this night, then we're gonna do things that I've never done."--Coach Cal, pre Big Blue Madness

Dang, nowwww I almost wish I was going.

That sounds sarcastic of course -- as it should -- but here's the thing. It is almost, a little bit, true.

Now, it would be an understatement to say I am not a sportswriter. (Let me pause for a minute there while you catch your breath and stop holding your sides.)

I am trying to find nice ways to quantify the depth and breadth of that statement that don't involve me being publicly tarred and feathered.

For one thing, I sort of lump organized sports in with organized religion in that I think the Process can be a little ... polluting.

For another, I am more of an arts and letters/geek gal than a sports gal.

For a third thing, probably because of where I was raised, I am more of a football girl than basketball. I grew up in a "Friday Night Lights"-ish kind of town, to put it mildly. Where the boys had no necks, and now they all sell insurance. I have said before, I live in the wrong city -- and state -- for football to be a valid preference over basketball, but it's true. When I think of Soccer, I can only think of Harry Crews's characterization of soccer vis a vis the debate team in Feast of Snakes (and you'll just have to look that up).

And while I have gone to my share of basketball games -- usually in the name of being a good sport for a date -- I find it generally ... smelly. I don't really know if it's the sweat from the oversized athletes in a fairly confined space, or if it's the reek of the crowd, but I can never believe I'm the ONLY one who seems to notice it.

I only disclose all of this just to reinforce the oddity behind my dirty little confession, which is that... I am positively entranced by Coach Cal. Of course that might not sound very odd or especially confessional in a town that worships him -- possibly in a very unhealthy way-- but it is unusual for Me, because I have rarely had much of an opinion about basketball.

Sure, I vaguely thought Tubby should go. He seemed like a fine family man who ran a nice clean program, but the job description -- as I understood it -- was to go to the Final Four, and win it on a fairly regular basis. It's my understanding that he only really did that with an inherited team, while failing to build his own program. That's all I know.

As for his successor, well, same thing. It's my understanding that he did not win? Now, all that other stuff? Hell, they knew he was a hard dog to keep on the porch when they hired him.

When it came time to replace him, the only thing I said on that front was that I hoped this time they'd go with someone MARRIED, cause it seemed clear they wanted a First Lady as part of the gig. Which promptly got me labeled as... homophobic (?) My response to that was.... huh? All I said was "married." Personally, I wouldn't care who the Coach was married to, and if the First Lady was named Steve, that'd be fine by me.

Then Coach Cal came to town... and I fell for him, right along with everybody else.

Probably because I get the same false sense of intimacy everybody ELSE does from his Twitter and Facebook pages. Look! He's walking his dog, RIGHT DOWN THE STREET FROM WHERE I LIVE! Here he is, NOT unpacking boxes in the new house! Awww. Just like every other husband. I imagine a sort of MadMen Don Draper crossed with Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy. I would call this series "That Cal!" (Oh that Cal! He is so darn exasperating! And then I'd smile indulgently.)

Of course, in real life, I know perfectly well he doesn't actually talk like a 14-year-old girl, and he doesn't speak in exclamation points, and that he is not, in fact, my "friend," no matter what Facebook might suggest to the contrary.

Don't care.

I find myself engaging in extended conversations with people who call the office from outta town and then happen to ask my opinion of basketball because we'll be in the news for some reason and because I live here, they assume I must know everything about it. Then I start to think I know everything about it, and I'll find myself blurting out something defensive like, "Well you know Mike, he was never IMPLICATED in any of that, and I think you'll have to agree that the NCAA concluded....!"

(WHAT? "The NCAA concluded...?" Seriously? Just add that to the list of three words you never thought you'd hear from me.)

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