The other week, Anna asked me to write a follow-up to a post I wrote this summer about being an iPhone Widow, and that's what I originally set out to do. The plan was simple: One morning over last weekend, I was going to grab my boyfriend's crackphone and hide it from him for a few hours, just to see if he would break out in a cold sweat and end up crying in the fetal position. Except that it didn't quite happen that way....
Both Saturday and Sunday morning, the second my boyfriend's eyes fluttered open, he immediately rolled over to pick up his phone from the nightstand. No half-asleep cuddles, no good-morning kisses—just straight to the iPhone. I never even had a chance to conduct my little experiment! Even for my single-mindedly retarded darling, this sort of "wake up and smell the iPhone" behavior was a little extreme. Then I realized what was going on: Saturday and Sunday were games 6 and 7 of the ALCS, and his much-beloved Red Sox were playing for a shot at the World Series. He had woken up and reached immediately for the phone so that he could log on to ESPN.com or some Sox message board, or maybe answer one of the dozen text messages that were pouring in from his equally obsessed buddies.
Not that I wasn't warned it would be like this. I've always known he was a die-hard Sox fan, and in the years before we started dating and were simply friends, I managed to keep an amused distance from him during games, playoffs, or, God forbid, the 2004 World Series. Back then, it was just cute: "Oh, look at him—he's such a little nut!" But then I was promoted to girlfriend status, and suddenly things were looking less cute. The baseball obsession was very real, like a confirmed case of rabies. The regular season wasn't so bad, but as the summer drew to a close, I found him raptly staring at games and leaping from the dinner table, fists a-pumpin', if the Sox were nailing plays. It was a bit annoying, but whatever: if he wanted to jump around like a Pavlovian monkey trained to go happily batshit at the sight of Manny Ramirez, then so be it.
But darkness loomed, As the season was winding down and things were looking better and better for the Sox's playoff hopes, things got a little more intense. "Listen," he gently said to me one night at a bar, "The postseason is starting, and things are going to get a little crazy. I want you to be prepared, because this will be my life." Then, less gently: "I might be manic. I might be incredibly depressed. I might want to stay out all night or I might want hide in my apartment and be alone." Okay? Then, forcefully: "I might laugh like a freak or cry like a baby or scream uncontrollably at the top of my lungs. I just want to warn you. I'm not going to act like myself." Huh. I think abusive husbands give a similar speech before they push their wives down the stairs.
The warnings continued and, while they freaked me out a bit, I worked hard to see things in a positive light. He's dedicated to a single team, his love for the Sox is undying—that must mean he's really good at commitment! And he's being open and honest about his obsession—so he's always going to be open and honest with me! Yes! These are all good things for Us! In turn, I did my part: I learned about the players, watched as many games as I could (always at the bar—watching at home didn't reflect enough dedication for him, I guess), and actually started to develop a genuine interest in the game. If I can't beat the Red Sox nation, I might as well half-join 'em.
Interest, however, is not psychosis, so I could only understand so much of the mind-boggling inanity that followed. Tickets to see Springsteen at Madison Square Garden were abandoned because the show was on a game night. A friend invited us over for a small dinner party, where the game would definitely be on, and the offer was refused ("I will be in no state to be at a dinner party if there's a game that night!"). I rolled solo to a couple-filled engagement party, where I explained to no less than six other curious guests that my boyfriend couldn't make it because of the Sox. I signed up for this, in a sense, and so I've done my best to be a good sport—but conversations have been sidelined, schedules have been cleared, and life has come to an utter standstill.
The other night was Game 1 of the World Series. The beginning of the end, I know, and I just have to hang in there. But even with the Sox leading early in the game, my incredibly worried boyfriend paced nervously in front of the bar's TVs, hands often on his head, eyes burning with an intensity I can only wish I might someday see in the bedroom. It occurred to me: I don't even know this person anymore. He didn't even seem to be having fun until the Sox were safely up 13-1 in the neverending 5th inning, at which point the game got wildly boring and my interest began waning. He, of course, had to stay at the bar to watch and gloat at every minute of the remainder of the game. Later, as we walked home, I not-so-subtly suggested that we have sex when we get home. "Sorry," he said. "Gotta watch the highlights. You can have me all you want in the morning, but tonight's ESPN." Um, REALLY? I'm offering myself to you and you'd rather watch highlights from a game of which you JUST saw every single minute? IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?
While I'm ranting and whining and using this otherwise lovely website as a receptacle for whatever cathartic crapping I'm doing right now, I do, at the end of the day, respect that this is my boyfriend's "thing," that it's not going to change, and that it's part of who he is. And that's that. But I have to wonder, would anything in this world come before a Sox playoff game? If I were being savagely beaten out front of the bar while the bases were loaded, would I be left for dead? If this beating landed me in the emergency room, he might call the hospital to check on me during a commercial break—but even then, I'm not so sure. It'd probably depend on who was up at bat.