Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Night Out

I have a close friend who used to be a professional football player. He wasn’t any kind of superstar, but he was a solid player who spent seven or eight seasons in the NFL and played in a couple of Pro Bowls. He’s not a household name, so unless you’re a totally rabid football nerd – or a fan of the team he played for – you’ve probably never heard of him. And since football is played with helmets on and the faces there aren’t as familiar as they are in other sports, he’s rarely recognized in public anymore unless it’s by someone who already knows him personally.

I’m going to call him “Mike,” because that’s football terminology for middle linebacker, his position in college and the NFL. If he’d played strongside linebacker, I’d call him “Sam.” If he’s played weakside, I’d call him “Will.” You just learned something.

We went to the Yankee game together the other night. Mike drives an Escalade and lives in a very nice house, because although he never really broke the bank by NFL standards, he was careful with his money and probably doesn’t have to work again for the rest of his life. I find it very interesting that he went out and started a second career anyway. Some guys have to stay busy. Mike is one of those guys. He’s solid.

Mike just went through a divorce. This is the only negative thing that’s happened to him since I’ve known him, and I’ve known him since our senior year in high school. It’s a sad situation, but it seems amicable compared to some of the other couples I’ve known who’ve gone through it. Nobody cheated, walked out, or did anything wrong. They just didn’t get along anymore. It sucks, but it happens.

Like most guys I know who get divorced, Mike is out there getting after it. Hard. But in his case, since he’s a good looking guy, a former professional athlete who’s stayed in shape, and has a shit-ton of money, he happens to be getting after it with some seriously national-class trim like it’s his fucking job. It’s impressive.

He brought his latest attempt at overcompensation to the game with us. We had great seats, but she did nothing but piss and moan the whole way to Yankee Stadium. The air conditioning was too cold. When we opened the windows, it was too windy. When we closed the windows and tried to make the air conditioning a little more moderate for her, it was “stuffy.” It was too hot at the game. Baseball is boring. There were bugs. She was tired. People were too loud. Her beer had a fly in it. The bathrooms were “skanky.” Derek Jeter is ugly and old.

At one point, Mike went to take a leak and bring back some stuff from the concession stand, leaving me alone with her. We had nothing to say to each other. We sat in silence the entire time. I couldn’t think of a single subject to broach with this person, and although she didn’t even try, I could think of absolutely nothing she could possibly say that would interest me to even the slightest degree. I was so disinterested that it wasn’t even awkward.

Mike came back with beer and started talking to me about Tiki Barber’s comeback. He thinks someone will sign him after the third week of the season, when teams would have to spend less money on him. He says Tiki can probably still play. He said nothing to the girl. For at least an hour, he spoke only to me. I forgot she was even there. She contributed nothing, other than the occasional complaint.

After the game, we dropped her off in Astoria and drove back to Mike’s house, where I’d parked my car in the street. I wanted to go home.

“Well,” said Mike, “that kinda sucked.”

I hit the button on my keychain, opened my door, and wondered why he hadn’t taken her home after all that. “Whatever,” I said. “We went to the fucking Yankee game. Who cares?”

“She’s pretty fucking hot, right?”

Am I missing something here?