My husband, Frank, and I let our dog, Lucy, sleep on the bed with us at night. She prefers to stay on top of the covers, curling up in one of the valleys created in the topography of the bedspread by the humans lying underneath.
I like the warm weight of her cuddling except when she settles in the space between my legs because a.) her presence prevents me from rolling over and b.) she mashes my balls.
That’s the overnight arrangement. Lucy also has a dog bed in the living room for her day-sleeping. Napping is one of her lifelong passions, right up there with belly rubs and food that falls on the floor.
The dog bed is topped with a blue polyester blanket emblazoned with the logo of the Chicago Cubs. The item was a gift to Lucy from Frank’s mother and sister, both of whom are fanatically devoted to Chicago sports teams—with the exception of the White Sox.
As I understand it, there’s an ordinance somewhere in the municipal code decreeing that any Chicagoan who roots for both of the city’s Major League Baseball teams shall be exiled and forced to live in Indiana. I assume my in-laws picked the Cubs to avoid that fate worse than death.
The only other piece of sports merch I own was also given to me by Frank’s family and also celebrates the Cubs. It’s a blue T-shirt with an illustration of the Wrigley Field marquee declaring, “CUBS WIN!”
Frank’s mother sent me the shirt—and sent Frank an identical one—following the Cubs’ World Series victory in 2016. The team had been lovable losers for decades before that, and apparently their loserness was essential to maintaining the delicate balance of the universe because just a few days after their World Series triumph, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States and everything has been shitty ever since.
When the White Sox last won the World Series, on the other hand, it was October 2005, and do you know which global leader came to power the next month? Germany’s Angela Merkel—the kind of sensible outcome you’d expect when things are as they should be.
Don’t get me wrong. I have never actually cared about baseball, not even when I played tee-ball and Little League as a child. My participation in the national pastime was orchestrated by my parents. If it had been up to me, I would have spent my summers watching Hayley Mills movies and practicing my ventriloquism routine. You know: normal, 9-year-old boy stuff.
Baseball, however, is like trigonometry and heterosexuality: It’s boring and I’m bad at it.
The feedback I received from coaches, other players, and, on occasion, other players’ red-faced parents in the bleachers suggested that I lacked focus, coordination, and whatever self-destructive impulse keeps someone from cowering when a hard, round projectile hurtles toward the face at high speeds.
The coaches would plant me deep in the outfield, though I suspect they would have liked to leave me in the parking lot. As for my performance at the plate, on one of the rare occasions I managed to connect bat with ball, I panicked and ran directly to third base.
To tell you the truth, I’m a little surprised I wasn’t scouted to play for the 1987 Chicago Cubs.