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, gototennis.com 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.