warning: this contains a reference to game 6 of the 1986 world series. i promise that it isn’t one of those maudlin “we popped the champagne, woke up the kids, and then wept like little girls.” stories that you’ve all heard a hundred times.
my cousin chuck is a great guy. he’s my mother’s age and in addition to some kind of day job he’s also a pianist and writer with several novels under his belt. whenever he comes to visit he’s always the most interesting person in the room, regaling my easily-impressed relatives with stories that actually go somewhere and jokes that actually have punch lines (not a talent in my family).
a rhode islander by birth, at some point in the eighties he moved out to california. when the 1986 world series rolled around he got together with some of his fellow ri expatriates, newly settled on the west coast with california wives, to watch the games. of course, as far as the baseball goes, we all know the story. after they had finished losing game 6 my cousin and his friends were sitting in the living room, silent and unhappy. the wives, who are west coast people of course, not baseball fans, and obviously not sensing what a crushing loss these fellows had just endured, are neither interested in or effected by what had just happened. then, in a ill-fated attempt to buoy the mood, one of these stepford robots chirped the inauspicious phrase that has never, ever, made anyone feel better in all of recorded history:
“lighten up guys, it’s just a game!”
she was knocked unconscious by her husband.
and that was the end of that marriage.
addendum: obviously, the point is that it's shocking that my cousin's friend was so unstable and violent. in another shocking example of red sox fanaticism-- some people, older, more “devoted” individuals from a certain upper-right-hand area of the map think that the punchline of this sorted tale is supposed to be the wife's remark, and the inopportune moment at which it was uttered. they pass a muted “oh, but he shouldn’t have hit her, i suppose…” through their lips as an afterthought.