Scoring Ain’t Easy

Occasionally on this whirling carousel called life, things just seem to click: the deal closes, the plants flower, the opposite sex finds us irresistible and throws themselves at us without asking for a commitment before a kiss.

When the stars align, one must be grateful.  Most of the time existence is brutal and exhausting and intractably uncooperative.  Why we ever think it will be otherwise is a mystery.  My shrink claims that blind optimism is the unconscious use of selective memory employed as a survival tactic. I agree, because I pay her a goodly sum of money.

Recently, some hard work began paying off.  Checks were coming in, I had a good woman to share the wealth with, and my cholesterol came well under the you’re-about-to-die zone.  I was blessed, and thankful and not about to take a single second of it for granted it. 90 percent of my life couldn’t be better.

So why the twunt wasn’t my f*ing soccer team scoring? The sweet milk of life was flowing like never before, from metaphorical breasts large and small, and yet, the universe had to dump a shit-storm on my parade in the form of goal scoring drought the likes of which Noah had never seen.

A creeping nihilism began seeping through the cracks.  As a former player, I know first hand scoring ain’t easy.  And that was at the college level.  Get to the elite international level and there are a world of hurdles shutting you down. That’s why they call it the Premier League: games maybe be played throughout the island of England, but the skill level is global.  And goals are hard to come by.

Perhaps that’s why most soccer players rip their clothes off and run harder than they do most of the game when the do finally score.  It’s unbelievable even to them.

Why they push their teammates out of the way instead of celebrating with them, however, is a question I’d love to ask at the press conference.  It’s a disgusting occurrence that you almost never seen in older highlight footage.  When you see George Best, or Puskás score, they run right into a circle of celebration to share the joy.  But somewhere in the 80’s, probably around the time Michael Jackson became more white than black, things changed for the worse.

Cut to press conference:

“Yes, um, after you tapped the ball into the virtually empty net for your goal, you seemed to stiff arm your teammates when they came up to congradulate you.  Even the guy who leaped over a violent cleats-up slide tackle at midfield, deeked out the left halfback completely with a killer spin move, took two punches in the ribs from the Sweeper, and a jersey yank to the ground by the goalie, to leave the ball basically at the goal line for you… Um, why?”

Hopefully he’d answer with some shame that it’s so hard to tally a goal at this level, that the only one you want to touch when you do put the ball in the back of the net is the lord himself.

So many things are difficult.  Business deals take hours and hours of redrafting.  Birth is painful and prolonged and requires blood, sweat and tears that are anything but metaphoric.  Relationships take daily toil to make them right.  But these are things we can cope with and overcome with resilience.

When my soccer team is paying its striker the equivalent of 40 million dollars to score points, and he hasn’t for the last nine games, you just want to write him a little personal note saying, “Yo! 40 mil.  How about it?”

It’s not fair that everything can’t be all perfect at the same time, even for one damn weekend.  It really should be for me because I’m a great guy.  A lot of people say so.  That I deserve health, wealth, love, happiness, and a soccer team that doesn’t suck balls, is eminent.  But no, clearly it’s asking too much.

Instead, God has to test me.  He has to take one simple pleasure I have in my life and flip it.  Why?  To keep me honest?  To keep me humble?  I struggle with it all in the deepest trench of my soul.  With God.  With my soccer team.  With the very fabric of my fan loyalty.

There are times when I want to spite God.  When I want to go out and buy thousands of pounds worth of Manchester United gear, because they’re gonna to be either number one or number two in the standings for the next decade.  A simple switch of allegiance would grant me everything I want all at once.

But I don’t.  I root for the Totnam Hotspurs, because my friend got me into them early, and I am a man of integrity, and they are one of the few strong teams in the EPL that’s not a Russian money laundering operation.  Until they stop scoring completely and make watching their games it’s own kind of specialized torture.

Maybe it’s God telling me to get a new friend.  Or to “Irish kiss” the old one for not picking a stronger squad to root for.  I’m not sure.  And neither is my shrink, which makes me think about trading her.

If things don’t change soon, I don’t know what I’ll do.  Writing a note just doesn’t seem like enough.  And taking the slumping goal scorer out with a long-range rifle feels unethical.  I also don’t want to end it all, because there’s so much else in my life worth living for.

But something has to change soon or I don’t know what the hell I’ll do.  Or when and who I’ll do it to.  This isn’t a threat.  Just a simple fact of life.  Put that leather in the old onion bag, boys.  I know it’s not easy.  Nothing that’s worthwhile ever is.

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