These last few months, I’ve been listening to a bunch of books on CD and playaway (www.playaway.com) while at work. My job is now tedious in the extreme; I sit at a desk and scan page after page of old forms, and then organize/save them. Trust me, this is the type of thing that requires something entertaining books.
I am currently listening to The One and Only, by Emily Giffin. I have seen her books on the shelves for years, but it’s been a long time since I tried one. The choice of audiobooks at the BCPL is heavy on scary murder mysteries and romance novels, neither of which I want to read at work, so Emily Giffin seemed like a reasonable choice.
Be prepared. Spoilers ahead! This story is about a woman who works for the fictional Walker University, a football school near Dallas. Walker is a football school in a football state…and the main character, Shea, is in love with her home town, her alma mater, and on many levels, the head coach of the football team. Coach Carr is her best friend’s father, and has always been Shea’s hero. In many ways, he has always been her male role model, since her father left her mother to go back to his first wife and daughter.
I myself happen to be from a beautiful, small town that happens to have a beautiful state university. It’s also a football school that has a Coach Carr-like coach. Everyone in Clemson has Dabo Fever; he’s not just a good coach, everyone loves him for his open Christian faith, the compelling backstory of his difficult childhood and rise from poverty, and his super-earnest, shucks-ma’am-Southern-shtick. I recently read an interesting article about the difference between Dabo Swinney and Steve Spurrier. Swinney sounds like a nice person, but I would probably prefer to attend a dinner party with Spurrier, who would be more entertaining. Because I am somewhat cynical about life, the universe, and everything, I find people like Coach Swinney hard to understand, and maybe, a little simple. Life is not simple, there are no easy answers, and to act like there are, is disingenuous.
I recognize a lot about the kinds of football fans who Shea represents. Football is her game, and Walker is her school, and as far as she is concerned, anything about them is good. I have friends like that, although that’s never been my way. I love Clemson (the town) and Clemson (the school), but I am not obsessed with sports. If Clemson loses a football game, hell, if they have a sucky season, I don't love town and school any less. I love them in their entirety.
Anyway, this book has me thinking about all this because I do know people who are obsessed with Clemson football. Or with their own alma mater's team. When they talk about it, they say, "We won," or "We lost." I look at them with my jaundiced, cynical eye and think, "I'm sure you weren't out running your 50 year old ass around on that field." It's a game people, and in the end not a terribly important one. It is not a metaphor for life, or something that give it meaning, it's a fun way to spend an afternoon cheering on your team. But if your team loses...it was still a good thing to do, and then you go home and throw some steaks on the grill or play a game of Charades and life still has savor.
I am somewhere in the middle on this. I don't play sports, and I don't really care about wins/losses, but I do enjoy the occasional game. I don't hate sports like some people do; but they are not my life like they are for Shea Rigsby in this book.
At chapter 18 or so, she's sleeping with the fictional QB of the Dallas Cowboys, she's yearning for her best friend's 55 year old recently widowed dad, and lying to her boss that she can be objective about the Walker football team. I see tears ahead. TEARS, I tell you, because when the best friend finds out about Shea and Coach Daddy, things are not going to be pretty. And a 33 year old woman leching on a man who has known her since the day she was born ought to be seeing a therapist about her Daddy Issues...