I've never been a hardcore sports junkie. I mean I played a few in high school. I've spent plenty of time on many couches watching games on TV. For a couple of college basketball seasons back in Milwaukee three co-workers and I shared some three-rows-up-from-the-court season tickets to Marquette University men's basketball games.
But I've never been one to get emotional about sports. Until tonight. The Green Bay Packers lost to the New York Giants in the NFC championship game. It was very likely Brett Favre's last playoff game, and thus his last shot at another Super Bowl. I was fortunate when I lived in Wisconsin to have gone to Lambeau Field and seen Favre play "in person." Our seats were on the 50-yard line, about 10 rows up from the field. Very cool experience to match the freezing cold outside. Anyway, I'm hardly the expert, but with all due respect to Tom Brady and the Manning brothers, Favre strikes me as the last incarnation of that old school warrior type of quarterback. I hope he gives it one more year. I hope the Packers find a consistent running back. I also hope the Packers develop a better defensive scheme than they had tonight against really fast, really tall wide receivers.
Moving right along, I saw Super Bad last night, and I think it's the funniest high school/teen/angst movie since The Breakfast Club. Super Bad cracked me up on a number of levels. First, instead of trying too hard with a complex plot it focused on the heart of the matter for teenage boys: The film's heroes desperately wanted sex before they graduated. And that was pretty much the gist of the film, that and finding alcohol to bring to a graduation party at which they hoped their sex dreams would be realized. Second, these kids cussed a lot. My first reaction to that was to frown. But then I remembered, once we got out of earshot of our parents, my guys and I used to say all sorts of foul things in high school. We weren't very good at swearing though. There's something weak about a cussing virgin. The words lack a certain punch and sincerity and skill.
Finally, it's Monday morning now. Federal employees everywhere, and even a few private industry worker bees have a day off of work in observance of the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. Most will not do anything to mark the day, not even engage in a minute of quiet reflection. Most won't think twice about whether or not the movement he inspired has helped make the U.S. a better, fairer place. Hell, I didn't do anything to mark this day but be one of the black reporters once again called on to write a story about King's impact on modern society. Maybe that would mean something if I'd volunteered to write the article. But I didn't. Never do, come this time of year. So I won't be hypocritical with my snarkiness. As my pops used to say, I have one accusatory finger pointed out and three more plus a thumb pointing back at me. Some folks will even try to politicize King today and question whether he'd align with Republicans or Democrats if he was alive today. King wasn't even close to being a deity. He had problems. He was human. But he had a brass set and proved time and again that he was willing to put his life on the line for a concept so simple as us all just getting along. So when I think about how seriously we don't take his legacy, I think about all those folks who darken the doorway of their neighborhood church once a year - at Christmas, and then go back to the same ole, same ole.
Till next year this time, if you don't already do this. strike up a conversation from time to time with the stranger sitting next to you on the train to work or across from you at the coffee shop, or whose dog is romping with yours in the park. And make it challenging. Pick a stranger who bears no outward resemblance to you. You might be surprised to learn what you have in common. A parting shot: While walking our dog Sunday afternoon, Mrs. B and I stoppped for food-to-go and coffee-while-we-waited at a little cafe in our neighborhood. While she was inside getting the coffee, Cheko the Australian Shepherd/herder and I waited on the sidewalk. A scruffy looking middle-aged white guy sporting an intense look and a ponytail approached from across the street. What can I tell you? I tensed up. Strangers spook me sometimes. But then we made eye contact. In a split second I had to decide whether to look away or hold his gaze. I held. He smiled tentatively. I reciprocated. He stopped and asked to pet my dog. I allowed it. He correctly guessed my dog's breeds and said he had a similar mix back home that he missed terribly. Five minutes later I was shaking hands with Larry from Seattle, who is on vacation in South Florida till Tuesday, making suggestions on where he should dine and drink, introducing him to Mrs. B as she returned with our coffee, and wishing him luck on the decision he'll have to make soon on whether to stay in Seattle or move to South Florida now that his youngest kid is grown and moving out of the house.
Is it a realization of King's dream(s)? No. It's not that dramatic. But considering the state of the Union, it's a good start.