Elmer sat in his Lund and brooded.
There was a lot to brood about. A lot of woe in and around Lake Wobegon.
For one thing, the Twins. After all that excitement, something to root for, a reason to turn on the ol’ Sony digital clock radio he kept out in the garage. You know, the brown one with fake wood and a mid-century tuner dial that has called the games all the way from Halsey Hall and Herb Carneal to Glan Dadden.
That ’87 team was so great. Gladden and his blonde-hair head-first slides. Hrbek with the grand slam to clinch it just a couple miles from where he grew up in Bloomington. Funniest line of the year was when Kirby Puckett told Frankie Viola he looked like he combed his hair with a shoe.
Elmer bought a VHS of the highlights of the ’87 Series. (So did my dad.) He was pretty sure he’d watched it a hunnerd times. (So did my Dad.) He might have to watch it again tonight just to try to cheer up from his near-cataclysmic personal suicide watch of depression and shame that he was sure he could get over by Friday so he could look forward to next Sunday’s game with the Lions.
Except the damn tape was broke and the damn VHS machine was broke and the Twins just lost fifteen in a row, it seemed like, to the Guardians of the Galaxy. Buxton got hurt, and Buxton got hurt, and Buxton got hurt, and then it all went to pot. BUT, the VIKINGS! They CREAMED the Pancakers. They MOONED them with Wisconsin’s own homemade green cheese. Elmer looked up to see if the moon was starting to come up even though it was still late afternoon. He was hoping it actually looked green, like green cheese.
God, Mary was happy during that glorious first game. She even sat beside him during the game and started peeking once in a while when she heard the amazing happy noise from her husband who, last year, refused all her entreaties to please please please let her check his pulse and blood pressure while the fabled Mike Zimmer A Gap defense gave up late-game points like a cold north wind blowing through an open screen window. Once she actually had to stand between him and the big flat-panel television to prevent him from throwing things at it. But that was last year. Or so they thought, until Monday night.
Elmer sat there in his aluminum boat in the green water in the green lake that was getting green and greener from the green algae that seemed to be growing like a grasping green viney slimey weed around his bobber.
The darn algae had grown out from the shore and was clogging the lake till the real fish went to the bottom and hoped the lake didn’t turn over, and the only hope Elmer had of catching anything at all was to put a worm on a hook with a little weight and a bobber and try to catch a bluegill or sunfish like one of his and Mary’s grandkids on a Saturday afternoon. Every time Elmer pulled up the worm to check it a buncha green slime came up with it and he couldn’t tell if the worm was alive or dead.
He figured it was on suicide watch too.
Elmer wondered what kind of worm you have to be to sink so low as to think the Viking were finally different, were finally something, were finally going to be more than just "above average".
"Plop". A small fish splashed the top of the water for some inscrutable reason of its own. A few ripples wandered across the calm green … not blue … water. Elmer pulled up his gear and wiped off all the slime. He yanked on his old outboard pull-start a few times and it caught and purred into life on the fourth pull. At least one thing went right today.
Jeez. Never fall in love with a politician. Never be codependent on a sports team.
Elmer is really trying to look forward to the next game. This last one had some real "if onlys". If only they didn’t drop so many. If only they could have stopped the run. If only they Vikings defense didn’t make another semi-accurate mobile quarterback look like Roger Staubach, Dan Marino, and Joe Montana combined in both genetic and virtual reality live on, once again, Monday Night Football. What a curse.
If only Kevin McConnell hadn’t actually said in a pre-game interview that he hoped his team would suffer some adversity so they could take their own mettle and see how they responded to hardship.
Boy, that worked out. Talk about being punished by getting what you wished for. Yesterday’s boy-genius savant who was supposedly the brains behind the Rams brilliant Super Bowl winning offense managed to eke out 17 yards for Dalvin Cook and 48 for Jefferson. On the plus side we did block a punt. And then turned it over. And also got a nice pick. And then turned it over. Hoo boy. Elmer also realized that Detroit can probably run the ball even better than the Eagles. This could be bleak. For cryin’ out loud if the Vikings lay an egg against the Pussycats like they did last year, he might break that big teevee and Mary may not be able to stop him.
Unless, of course, he commits suicide first.
Which raises another question: If he really went through with it, would it do any good to go over to Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow and make a confession before he died? If you’re Catholic, you can see why this might be a futile waste of walking, kneeling, praying, and telling his sins to the shadow behind the curtain as if Father McClintock didn’t know he was Elmer telling about Elmer’s bad thoughts and bad deeds in hopes of avoiding Purgatory or even worse.
Mary figured it was really her fault. She’d been so happy at Rodgers losing in the opening game that Spirit was reminding her it was not good juju to be joyful at others’ failings. Be happy your team does something right, but don’t be happy that the other team does something wrong. But that doesn’t make any sense, because in order for you team to do something right, the other team has to do something wrong, so probably she needs to light some more incense, sage the house, and do a little thoughtful meditation on how you could be happy when your team does something right without simultaneously being joyful at the other team doing something wrong.
This may require a more enlightened state of being than she has yet experienced. 6th Chakra at least. Mary figures if she can get THAT enlightened she should be able to give Reiki, be a Life Coach, and harness the collective energy of other enlightened Vikings fans to influence events on the field in a positive way. Like invent Flubber, or something, so all the boys in Purple and Gold could run faster jump higher catch balls with their fingertips, never miss a tackle, and Kirk Captain Cousins could actually throw a ball in the end zone to his intended receiver not named Darius Slay.
Mary gasps at the possibility, even as she realizes that harnessing enlightened spirits’ energy to influence a football game would be cheating, and a really unenlightened form of enlightened thinking. It’s kinda like war. As Barbara Tuchman wrote in either The Proud Tower or The Guns of August, at the beginning of the war every nation was sure that God was on their side.
Whereas we Vikings fans sort of have to struggle with whether or not He is Real, because otherwise why would he allow us to absorb this much psychic punishment?
Probably it’s a test of faith. She thinks she’ll try to cheer Elmer up with that thought while she fixes up their Keto dinner (to help Elmer’s blood pressure) and reminds herself to explain to him once again why she won’t contribute to his early demise by making the stuff he likes most, like potatoes (they turn into sugar, which is an inflammatory agent) and french fries (also potatoes, but even worse).
It’s another of her dilemmas. She knows he needs psychic comforting, but it would be wrong to offer him comfort food because it could kill him if he popped a gasket next Sunday. Boy does she hope the Vikings beat the Lions this week. She’s gonna spend a few minutes in her mediation corner, focusing on good intentions for the Vikings without wishing bad things for the Lions.
And honestly, it’s easier not to hate Goff that it is to not hate Rodgers, she thinks as she sneaks some kale and collegen into Elmer’s fresh rhubarb salad.
"Rhubarb for regularity", her mom always useta say. Oofta.