I did not kick my dog this weekend. But I gave the matter careful consideration. Don't get the wrong idea -- Buck didn't misbehave -- he's a good dog.
However, the name Buck is too close to Bucky, as in Bucky Badger. I felt I owed him one. In case you failed to notice, the University of Wisconsin football team stunk it up in Evanston, Ill., on Saturday morning. The 20th ranked team in the country is not supposed to lose to Northwestern, nor, for that matter, to any team that wears purple.
I thought I had evolved as a human being and moved beyond that state of consciousness where the mere outcome of a football game could unbalance my weekend. But I was mistaken. I had strayed from the path of enlightenment -- I let the games get to me.
It isn't really my fault that I struggle with my emotions while watching sporting events, either live or on the TV screen. You see, as children, my sisters and I were sent to bed without supper on any Sunday that the Green Bay Packers were defeated. We often felt like we were being sacrificed at the altar of Curly Lambeau.
As a 5-year-old, my parents would give me a dollar and drop me off at Camp Randall Stadium so I could get in line for an end-zone seat to watch the Badgers play. If Bucky came through with a win, my folks would pick me up in the old Ford after the game. If Wisconsin lost, I was made to hitchhike home. I used to stand out on Monroe Street in my red sweater with the big W on it, a forlorn little waif with his thumb out in the gathering gloom.
So, I'm sure you can easily grasp that I have some deepseated inner turmoil to work out when it comes to the gridiron and controlling my emotions on the sidelines.
This weekend got off to a great start with the Sailors football team finding a way to make coach Mark Drake's last trip to Craig a pleasant one. Coach Harris and coach Drake can both savor that one for a long time. The weekend began to disintegrate as I bombed down Interstate 70 in the minivan on the way to the state soccer playoffs. The news came over the radio that the Badgers were losing. Would I be forced to hitch all the way back to Steamboat?
Things didn't go well in the soccer match, despite heroic efforts by the fellas. It had been such a magical season -- I was determined to find a way to reverse the trend on the pitch. Suddenly it dawned on me how intent the linesman was on watching for offsides as he raced up and down the field, and how easy it would be to reach out and de-pants him in front of the cheering multitudes. Surely such a bold move by a parent would be just the tonic the Sailors needed to cause a swift reversal of momentum. Why, they might even score while the other team was distracted, I reasoned. I was nearly committed to carrying out this act of self-sacrifice, when I looked up and realized that Fort Logan State Mental Hospital was fewer than 200 paces away from the soccer field. Suddenly, a new application of the word "committed" came to mind. The men in the white coats were probably watching me through binoculars even as I hatched my plan. "Perhaps another time, another place," I told myself.
It was a long, dark drive back into the mountains and as is usually the case, it was darn near impossible to tune in to either the World Series or the Colorado/Oklahoma game.
I cannot say for certain because of the loud static that interfered with my hearing, but I would swear I heard Larry Zimmer imply on the radio that the Buffs had achieved something akin to a moral victory by losing to Oklahoma by a mere two touchdowns. Lo, how far the mighty have fallen! My spirits were lifted considerably when I heard the news that the Marlins had exorcised the ghosts of Yankee Stadium in Game 6 of the Fall Classic. "If only the Broncos can find a way to overcome all of their adversity and win one in Baltimore tomorrow," I told myself. "All will be right with the world!"
Well, the Bronco game turned ugly fast. Call me a fair-weather fan, but I'm proud to say I skipped the second half and took Buck the dog for a walk. And he only kicked me once.
I am a recovering football addict, and the road is long and full of potholes.