I knew my husband, Josh the Pilot, put in a good flight when he called me with a suggestion to enlarge our family.
“I just flew with this interesting captain,” he said, “and he says we need to get a parrot.”
Normally the suggestion of acquisition of pets is my department; it is my job in the marriage to suggest that we should get a hedgehog (“Look, you get to wash them in the sink“) or a miniature horse (“Look, you can braid their hair“) or a small child (“Look, you can train them to mix drinks.”) But although a former Floridian and person with an entirely separate, carefully curated Buffett playlist, I pointed out that no, we were not going to get a parrot.
“This guy says he trained his parrot to sit on his shoulder and then poop when in its cage when he needs to poop,” said my husband, “and that they let you know when someone’s breaking into your house, and that once you’re in the flock, you’re in the flock.”
Well, that’s more of a selling point; with my high school closing and as a woman without a football team ever since I stopped talking to my brother school ten years ago, it would be nice to feel flocked, especially if poop isn’t involved. But flocking extracts a price.
The danger of entwining one’s identity with a sports team was illustrated this weekend by Redleg Nation founder and somewhat noted UVA fan Chad Dotson, who had, as one might expect, rather high hopes for his alma mater in this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament. As my interest in basketball consists of watching my nephew lunge for his phone when he receives updates on TheScore, I wasn’t following this weekend’s action until word broke through my figure skating/Thoroughbred racing/baseball/ski jumping bubble that UVA had been upset.
As in all public disasters, my attention went first to those I knew who might be affected by it. That was, in this case, Chad, so in the spirit of triage I checked my Twitter feed to ascertain the exact amount of thoughts and prayers this situation might require. Chad’s account on Saturday night was quite the front seat to the emotional wreckage of a man: First he’s prophetically #sad, then he’s concerned, then he’s grappling with reality, then he’s bargaining, then he’s steering into the skid, then he reaches the devastated acceptance that turning his attention from baseball was his first mistake, then he regrets passing on this life of disappointment to his issue, and then he for some reason starts retweeting observations about popular jazz singers.
As you can see, becoming emotionally involved in sports is horrible and bad and you should never do it. Except we do it anyway. We value our flock. We draw our children into the flock even though the flock is a demonstrable, decades-long dumpster fire. The flock is us; we are the flock.
It is stretches such as this when we question the value of placing so much emotional toil, cash, and time into people who are handsomely paid to play a children’s playground game. It is also stretches such as this when I remember glancing over at my godchild, not yet old enough to find the closest bathroom unescorted, looking up at me and saying, “Great American Ball Park is my favorite place in Cincinnati, and now we get to have slushes!”
Proud aunt Mary Beth Ellis is a freelance writer and college teacher who lives in Cincinnati, OH. Her home site, BlondeChampagne.com, has existed in at least some form since 2003, and Mary Beth has been a regular columnist with one publication or another from the age of 16. Her first book, Drink to the Lasses, was published in 2006. She currently teaches college, runs personal wine tastings, gives literary readings, and stares into the middle distance.