My friend Bob was a SUPER HUGE! St. Louis Rams fan. I am not a sports guy. At all. But I became a Rams fan (for one season) for Bob.
It was the fall of 2010 and by then, I had known Bob just long enough to have a some idea about what the score was with this guy. I’d met him the year before, on his 72nd birthday. The only person there besides the friend who had invited me (and left soon after) was storming out in disgust. “Fuck you Bob” I think was the gist of what he was saying as he slammed the door. Not long after that I discovered why. Bob was more than a major challenge, a real piece of work, he was. But I had decided to support him, to be his friend. So by the time the next football season rolled around, I knew full well what that meant.
It meant developing our own kind of ritual every Sunday. I’d stop at the Jack in the Box near his house and pick up double cheese burgers, fries and sodas.Bob would be in his lucky Rams shirt and shorts, ready with the mandatory bong hits to be partaken of throughout the game. I had to be sure and get there early enough forBob to share with me, his analysis of the great American sporting event we were about to witness, to be a part of.
The Rams had a new first-draft quarterback, Sam Bradford.Bob had high hopes that Bradford would be the key to that coveted Super Bowl win all football fans long for. His excitement that his team might just have a chance to win was all-consuming. Like a little boy,Bob would go on and on about his team’s new star and all the rest. An expert fan, he would recite statistics and history and lay out his theories for the strategy he thought best.
Of course the Rams didn’t followBob’s plan for a sure-thing Super Bowl victory. Oh no! And every time things went badly, my friend’s child-like excitement would turn to equally childish tantrums. Of course most sports fans get worked up and shout at the TV during a game, but Bob took this to a level I’d never seen before.
And I was right there with him. I may not have cheered as loudly as Bob, or shouted with the same intensity. But I was there with him. He was my friend and I wanted him to be happy. And when the Rams failed to get to the Super Bowl, or even have a winning season, I sat there and listened to Bob go on and on about what they should have done. I agreed that those stupid coaches had done it all wrong. And when the season was over, and there was even more drama regarding Bob’s connection with a Rams employee who was an old friend of his, I sat and listened to Bob go on and on about that too.
Next football season, Bob accepted that I didn’t want to join him in watching any Rams games but of course I was still there to listen to my friend. As I said, Bob was a challenge. To be his friend was not easy and the time I knew him was… damn hard. By the time he died, I could easily understand how that guy had been so pissed off on Bob’s birthday.
But despite the trouble, I continue to be blessed for having known Bob. Perhaps within this blog, at some point I will somehow be able to work out and share the truth of that statement.