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In My Next Life

Posted By Karen Young On September 21, 2009 @ 11:41 pm In Features,In My Next Life,spotlight | 18 Comments

davidnicholsBY DAVID NICHOLS

Football season started again last week, but this year it’s a little different for me.  This year I actually care that football season started again last week.  It’s a new experience.

You know that expression “In my next life.”?  Well, mine started recently and I’m still learning how to operate it.   In my old life football didn’t matter.  In this one it does.  A lot.

Ok, let me explain.  I promise I’ll move through this quickly, especially the part that’s kind of sad.  Three years ago, after twenty-five years of marriage, my wife was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer. The game was lost before it started.  A while later she passed away as gracefully as anyone ever has, leaving me with a grown daughter whom I treasure and a lot of great memories.  That was my last life.  Then, a while later, my next life arrived.  It was delivered by a beautiful, vibrant, creative, passionate whirlwind of a woman I’ll call N. who, to my astonishment, agreed to become my girlfriend.  (And no – there’s not a more mature-sounding phrase to describe this kind of relationship.  Trust me, we’ve scoured every thesaurus known to man.)  Anyway, that’s how I came to find myself in Rocco’s Tavern on a Sunday morning, yelling at a bank of flat-screen televisions.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not that I don’t like football.  I just never paid much attention to it.  Over the years various wins, losses, injuries, and firearms possession charges kind of scrolled across the lower edge of my consciousness like the CNN crawl until it was time to go to somebody’s Super Bowl party.  I ate the snacks and critiqued the commercials, but I certainly never thought of anybody as “my team”.  N., on the other hand….

I mentioned she’s passionate, right?  Well, there’s one particular NFL team she’s passionate about like, say…the Arabs and Israelis are passionate about the West Bank.  I won’t identify this particular team because I’m new here and don’t want to alienate anybody.  I’ll simply say they’re named after an iconic symbol of the Old West, John Wayne portrayed a bunch of them during his career, and from August to January they are the Big Bang of My Girl’s universe.

So you can imagine the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments (not to mention plain, old-fashioned cussing) that went on when it was discovered that this particular team’s opening game was nowhere to be found on our cable system.  Once the gnashing and cussing subsided there were a couple of quick phone calls.  One to the local Fox affiliate to alert them to the fact they were showing the wrong game followed by one to Rocco’s to ascertain that they were showing the correct game.  They were, and with that N. and her eleven-year-old son (an equally rabid, er, devoted fan of unsaid team) were out the door.  I promised to join them later and sat down to enjoy my tea and the Sunday papers.

In my last life I was married to a woman who worked in the fashion industry.  So I was reading a summary of Fashion Week in the New York Times with some interest when a couple of thoughts occurred to me.  One was that some people might find it unnatural for a fifty-five year old American male to be drinking tea and reading about ruched silk while his girlfriend and her son were at a sports bar watching football.  Somebody might even try to pass a Constitutional amendment against it. (The Defense of ESPN Act, perhaps?)  My other thought was that I was actually curious about what was happening in the game.  Curious enough that I tossed Marc Jacobs and Vera Wang aside and headed for the corner of Whitsett and Ventura.

Rocco’s on a football Sunday is truly a fan’s Mecca and the pilgrims were packed shoulder to shoulder, including my two roomies.  The Boy informed me with solemn concern that there were people there who’d been drinking “beer and whiskey and alcohol” since ten o’clock in the morning.  N. informed me that God’s Team was ahead, but “not by enough.”  Having gotten the update, I settled in with my cranberry juice.  The Boy tucked into his second pizza of the day and N. went back to cheering enthusiastically.  (“Enthusiastically” as in “Honey, you might want to quiet down a little.  I think you’re disturbing the gang of drunken longshoremen at the next table.”)

As the second half progressed I found myself shouting, holding my breath, and pumping my fist along with everybody else and I began to realize I was being given something I never had before.  Suddenly, after all these years, I had a team.  N. cared and The Boy cared, so I cared.  It was fun.  And I never saw it coming.

So there we are, N. and I curled up in front of late-night TV.  She picks up the paper I’d been looking at earlier.

“What did they call that big fashion thing they did in New York this week?” she asks.

At last.  Something I can talk about with some authority.  “It was called Fashion’s Night Out.  And look at this picture of Isabel Toledo wearing – “.

She puts her hand on my arm.  “Tell me in a minute, honey.  They’re about to re-cap the game.”

The end of another day in my next life and it’s been a good one.  Our team won.

David Nichols is a TV writer/producer who has worked on such shows as “Caroline In The City”, “Grace Under Fire”, and “Evening Shade.” A resident of Studio City, he can step on most of his life’s work by walking down the Ventura Boulevard Walk of Fame.

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