Since I heard that progressives have a special gene that makes them think the way they do, I've been hoping that scientists would soon start looking for the sports gene, because although I am quite sure I possess the liberal-progressive gene, I know for a fact that I lack the gene responsible for anything that has to do with sports. And this, I'm afraid, might jeopardize my place in American society.
The reason I started to worry has to do with the Giants. You see, in 2010 the Giants had won the World Series. My San Francisco-born daughter posted something about the team on Facebook, which should have alerted me to the event. But I had no clue what she was talking about. She might as well had written it in Korean.
And so, a day after the game I tried to strike up a friendly conversation with a colleague at work. I asked him when the Giants were going to play the final game of the World Series. Was it going to be in November, December or January?
The expression on the guy's face made me feel like he might need a defibrillator. He stared at me in stunned silence and after a few seconds the words fell out of his mouth. "The Giant have already won the World Series."
I didn't dare ask if the Giants played football or baseball. That would have finished him off completely and I didn't wish him any harm. As they like to say in this country: "It's not personal."
So you see? I am hopeless when it comes to sports.
I once rented a room from a woman who was the accountant for the 49ers. Shortly before I moved in, the team won the Super Bowl. My landlady who was the accountant of the team, partied with them after the game. Now, how do I know that the 49ers play football, you may ask. Because I remember the signed footballs enclosed in a glass case in her living room. She also had a bunch of signed photographs hanging on the wall next to the glass case.
I am sorry to say, though, that all the football paraphernalia left me unmoved. My total ignorance prevented me from collapsing in front of the altar in sheer awe. Or how should I say it more clearly? My inner Moses failed to recognize the deity in the burning bush.
Don't get me wrong, though. I am not a hater of sports. I am just not that into it. Because I lack the sports gene. It's a DNA malfunction.
For the benefit of the doubt, and to preserve my citizenship, let me tell you that there was a time that curiosity took the better part of me and drove me to watch some unmemorable matches in very famous stadiums.
For example, I once saw a game at Yankee Stadium between the Yankees and the Red Sox. I was told that Reggie Jackson played at that game, not that I knew who he was (if I commit blasphemy here, please forgive me). Like any dumb foreigner, I knew nothing about the game and all I could think was: "What the hell is an inning? IN what?" I sat on the hard bench among screaming adults and tried to figure out why it was such a big deal to watch overweight guys in pajamas spitting on the ground and rearranging their privates. There was also lukewarm beer and hot dogs and lots of American cars in the enormous parking lot that created a traffic jam from hell after the game finally ended in the sixteenth inning or whatever. I think the Yankees won the game but don't quote me on that. I marked an "X" on my "to do" list and went home to brag about it.
A year or so later, I found myself watching a soccer game in Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. This was when I learned to chant "um dos tres, quatro cinco mil, eu quero que flamengo vai pra puta que pariu." The chant translates into "one, two, three, four, five thousand, I want Flamengo to go to hell (literally, "go to the whore who gave birth to you"). Definitely good material for learning authentic language use. In Portuguese it rhymes nicely when 100,000 grownups yell it in tandem and blow giants horns to high heavens accompanied by incessant drumming. No hot dogs included. The only thing worth noting is that the team I was supposed to root for had won. Which probably saved my life and the life of those who took me to see the game.
The last time I was in a stadium was at the U.S. Open. I am quite sure one of the tennis players was John McEnroe because there was lots of cursing and tantrums on the court. I used to think it was Jimmy Connors who I saw playing, but when I described the tantrums years later I was told it was McEnroe not Connors. Maybe I saw them playing against one another. Not so sure about it. My memory betrays me when it comes to these details.
So you see, that's how it is with me when it comes to sports: McEnroe, Connors, Giants, Forty-Niners, Dodgers, Lakers, Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, Dream Team, whatever. It's all just names to me. And don't start me on boxing, please. Watching men punch each other in the face until one of them collapses to the ground is not what I consider "entertainment."
People try to explain to me why watching a good game is fun. Why being a fan is fun. I listen with all the open mind I can manage and try really hard to understand. But I can't.
So one day, when they find the sports gene, I will consider gene therapy. It might make me a better American.