Notes by a Fan

A few years ago I read somewhere that being a passionate fan extends your lifetime. I suppose it makes sense — wanting another wakeup to watch the Cubs lose could guarantee eternal life. Fandom is exactly like being in love in high school because the joy’s so intense when things are going well, and the despair is incapacitation when things go south. The only year I had perfect attendance was in 5th Grade when I was madly in love with my homeroom teacher Peter Royle.

I’m not talking mere sports fandom here, though that’s what spurred me to write this post. The day my mother was supposed to die (and she reported that yes, there is the long tunnel with the light at the end) just as she reached the light she thought “Wow, there’s a sale at Holt’s this week!” For non-Canadians, Holt Renfrew is an upscale store like Neiman-Marcus. Her desire for a pair of Ralph Lauren trousers at 50% off gave her three extra months of like. Mummy was a fashion fan.

I’m on record as being a Montreal Canadiens fan,a Chicago Blackhawks fan, a Glenn Gould fan, a bacon fan, a Procol Harum fan,a B.B King fan, a Vladimir Horowitz fan,a Jussi Bjoerling fan,a Kinks fan, a Marta Argerich fan,a Conchita Supervia fan, a ribs in the oven fan, a single malt fan,an Ian McArthur fan, an LA fan, an Old Rose fan, an Honor Rovai fan, a John Nguyen fan,a Georgette Heyer fan, a poached egg fan, a White Sox fan, and in this World Cup, a Holland fan.

But in the realm of sports, I’m a tennis fan. In my late twenties, when Honor was a toddler, I got into tennis in the summertime, sweltering in the third floor rear of a Chicago six flat. It was a swell tennis epoch — the Borg/McEnroe battles at Wimbledon, the Connors/McEnroe epics at Flushing Meadows. Ponytails, white boy afros, short shorts, bad manners. It should surprise no one who knows me that I had a big crush on bad boy John McEnroe, the player Martina Navratilova called “an artist with a racquet in his hand instead of a brush.”

So the nothing on TV in the summer and Johnny Mac led me to tennis. Honor absorbed the matches as she got potty-trained. She grew up to love the game (she and John play it,) sported a poster of Pete Sampras on her bedroom wall in high school, and now runs the biggest tennis web site in the world,  It skews Roger Federer and our Roger hasn’t been doing great in the last few months. The commenters are depressed,passionate, and from every corner of the world. Rog is God.

I’m old enough not to trust my heart and my sanity to a team or a player–there’s enough disappointment and heartbreak in real life. But Honor backed me into a corner this weekend and said: ‘Mom! Admit! You’re a Rafa fan!” which is family heresy. But it’s true, I am, and not just because he’s so handsome:

He plays every point as if it’s his last. And he’s always so polite in press conferences and so humble. He’s a kid with guns, buns,and  beautiful manners. I admit my imaginary relationship with him is half Mrs. Robinson, half proud Mama. But he’ll get me out of bed early on Sunday to watch the final. Vamos!

C,mon, tell us your fan passions.



Filed under Body, Free, History, Sports

8 responses to “Notes by a Fan

  1. peter

    I’ve been a fairweather tennis fan over the years, mostly watching the games at York University in Toronto. I have a visor in the attic signed by Ivan Lendl, Shlomo Glickstein, Carling Bassett, and Monica Seles. Not a bad Mixed Doubles Final.

    Wimbledon is Spring, and Rafa is quite mantastic.

    Ray Davies turned 66 last week! I had to look up the Swedish tenor.

  2. Can’t find a sport I could root for, but I’m a fan of Leonard Cohen, Burn Notice, vanilla ice cream, little kids living up to their ghi, old poems, crackly paper which smells of age, Nancy Drew, Eric Roberts, Aeronaut’s Cryptic Crosswords, Patsy Cline, Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones. Also Lois Smith, Henry Hook, Angela Lansbury, James Lee Burke, Agatha Christie and Alan Rickman.

    Fond of NCIS: Abby, Gibbs, Ziva, and especially Duckie. Really like problem-solving movies and TV which agree that viewers MIGHT have some sense.

    And Soprano Duets—Heaven’s music.

    I can also get with you on the Gould, Horowitz and bacon. Howzzat?

  3. Bev

    I’m sure you remember Bobby Riggs ..well he was in Montreal promoting the new Pong video game (in the late 70’s maybe?) and I went up to play it with him..he was a funny guy..he won..and cheated!! ha. Never forgot the man v woman BJ King match! So Sydney Crosby does it for me..I want to adopt him. I’ve seen many Canadien games and was so happy to see them do so well this last season. Keep your stick on the ice!

  4. Caro

    Twice I drove almost 700 miles to come to a concert to see Lyle Lovett in Indy. Worth every mile.

    Also am a huge Jane Austen fan, the books, movies, BBC productions etc…,as well as Harry Potter , they are such fun and so charming.
    Add me to the Alan Rickman stalkerati as well, whether in an Austen,(Colonel Brandon), or a Rowling, (Professor Snape)…mmmmm 😉

  5. Alex

    Caro, that’s a great definition of “fan.” Hmm, who or what would I drive 700 miles (or, more likely, 300 miles) to see, hear, or experience? Not much: Richard Thompson in solo performance. The Detroit Tigers in the World Series. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus doing Mahler 8. A hands-on cooking class with Mario Batali. The Lyric Opera of Chicago and Bryn Terfel doing Sweeney Todd. I think I’m also a fan of Doctor Who, Alton Brown, Peter Matthiessen, homemade peanut butter, and the Traverse City/Leelanau/Old Mission area of Michigan.

    BTW, you can travel to Grand Rapids this summer to see Lyle Lovett on August 7 at Meijer Gardens, one of the 30 must-see museums in the world, according to Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (#12 at The concert is sold out, but tickets often start appearing on Craigslist about a week beforehand.

  6. Gretchen

    So much emotion was brought out from this article. I have always been a fan of many things and I appreciate your ability to articulate it in a way we can all relate.
    Go Bears!

  7. M. you do manage to hit the nail on the head way more than expectation of some sort of quasi-law of averages might suggest is likely.

    I’m a fan of far too many things to list. The list would start, only it wouldn’t be at the beginning, and then it would proceed, but there would be no end.

    As a friend said to me in high school, when I’d been enthusing about this or that, (giving me a phrase that Ivan and I still get a LOT a lot a lot of mileage out of even In Today’s World), “You’re the kind of person who REALLY REALLY likes things.”

    Been chewing on that since. Pretty much sums it up, I decided after years of said chewing. And pity the poor fools that don’t.

  8. Kim Shook

    Beatles, Beatles, Beatles! For my entire life – my dad loves to tell the story of how I cried the first time that I saw them on TV (I was 4). And for my last birthday, Mike surprised me with tickets to see Paul McCartney. I cried.

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