Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Couch

It’s no secret that athletes are some of the most superstitious people you’ll ever meet. They’re the guys that won’t shave their beards in a run for the Stanley Cup. They’re the guys who step over the first base line when they take the field. And of course the guys who won’t wash a jock strap or some other vital uniform part just to not jinx a winning streak. They are not only willing to compromise their own personal hygiene, but also the olfactory senses of those around them, just to perform these repetitive acts that any doctor with the proper training would say border on the diagnosis of some form of OCD.

But to say these behaviors and fears are unfounded might be a tad naive. Just ask the Boston Red Sox. After selling off Babe Ruth for a Broadway Musical, they and their fans endured 85 seasons before winning their next pennant. And what about the Cubbies?.. Haven’t their fans suffered enough? They have a sign in the outfield of Wrigley that says how many games since their last championship, and sadly enough just watch the numbers tick away every season. And then.. there’s poor poor Cleveland: the city that simply can’t catch a break in any sport it seems and where the phrase “taking the Browns to the Super Bowl” is more fitted for bathroom jokes than sports headlines.

So it’s no surprise that athletes’ superstitions have rubbed off on their fan bases. After all, when you eat, sleep, and breathe a certain team you can’t help but revel in their wins and mourn their losses. My father is no exception.

When I transferred to Florida State in 2004, my parents sent me up to Tallahassee with a washed up old living room set. It wasn’t in awful condition, but it certainly wasn’t fresh from the showroom floor of a Havertys. It was one of those beat up old couches that had seen the wear and tear of having teenage daughters with obnoxious parties, weaning a pair of Dobermans through the “puppy stage” and a clan of cats who were seemingly always marking their territory. After countless shampooing and sewing sessions later, the cushions had definitely seen better days. The ottoman, though easily moved on wheels, sagged in the middle because it was one of the dogs’ favorite sleeping spots even though her ass would barely fit on it. And the pillows?... Well, they were a rag-tag set of whatever was left, and a few editions after a run to Pier 1.

Even with all her beatings and markings, this couch still possessed powers much more far reaching than any of us could have ever predicted. That is.. until Sept 5, 2005. While some of you may recognize that as the date I was discovered on national television, my father will forever remember it … as something else.

The day the Miami Hurricanes fell to the Florida State Seminoles.

For years, this was always a day that was circled on my parents calendar, as they were both die hard ‘Canes fans. My sister and I were products of the Butch Davis, Dennis Erickson, and Larry Coker eras. I’m pretty sure we even had cute little Miami outfits our parents would dress us in to attend games. With all this Green and Orange pumping through my family tree, one would assume I was the black sheep of the family by attending Florida State. But after I showed Mom and Dad the potential cost to attend the “U” versus the Free Ride I had been offered by the ‘Noles… my Dad decided to let that slide. No word yet on whether or not I will be left out of his will though. Once I was on campus, it wasn’t hard to fall in love with the ‘Noles. And boy, did I fall hard. My wardrobe began to consist of whatever the newest tee was at the bookstore, and those obnoxious gym shorts with ‘Noles embroidered across the ass. And like that, the transformation was complete.

Fast forward to September 5, 2005… that fateful Monday night. Though it was hardly an offensive display of talent, the game proved to be like any other match up between these two teams - a bitter fight to the end. Only this time, for the first time in five years the outcome was different. After a dynasty of Wide Rights, a Wide Left, and a Bowl Game for good measure, the ‘Noles finally defeated the mighty Hurricanes. Some ‘Noles fans would say it was simply our time. But not me… I knew the real reason behind our victory: the green couch. For years my dad had insisted, that as long as his ass was on our green couch, the ‘Canes could not lose. He even found this to be true while on the road. If the ‘Canes were in a crunch, he would tear apart the entire ‘A’ Terminal of Hartsfield International Airport looking for a green chair, which he usually found in Delta’s crown room. Should said chair be occupied, even by a mammoth of a human being, my dad would throw down for that piece of furniture. And what about attending games in person??.. Well, I’m pretty sure he even had a green stadium cushion he brought along. While all this may seem a little crazy and over the top, you could trace everything back to… the green couch. Maybe… just maybe he was on to something.

The next year’s match up was a repeat of 2005, only this time in the Orange Bowl… a stadium I so fondly remembered from my childhood that had clearly seen better days by the time I was in my early twenties. The teams 2007 meeting resulted in a Miami win at the arm of a kid named Kirby Freeman. Yeah, the same Kirby Freeman that would complete 1 of 14 passes, for 86 yards, and 3 interceptions against NC State the following week. So how did Miami pull off the upset at Doak??... Simple. The Couch was back in Tampa, as I had brought it home to my parents while I was on the road working for Sports Illustrated and Sprint.

The following year, my parents added an extension to our house so my grandmother could come live with us.. and with her.. came all her stuff. Including a nicer, never-been-pissed-or-chewed-on furniture set. But her couch was flowery, and what you would expect your grandmother to own.. and blue of all things. Come to think of it.. maybe that’s why the Gators were on their National Title streak two out of the last three years. Remind me to move that damn thing the next time I go home. And as for the ‘Noles/’Canes outcome, well… with the Green couch shoved deep into the corner of a climate controlled storage center… well, the ‘Canes were simply no match for the Seminole Nation.

Fast forward to this past Saturday. My buddies and I were all settled into a little booth at our favorite sports pub taking in week one of college football, when my phone’s text message alert went off. I still can’t decide whether teaching my mother to text was either the smartest or dumbest thing I’ve done, but she’s actually gotten quite good at it as a means of secondary communication. Though I’m sure there may have been a few punctuation or spelling errors, the text read something like this.



I couldn’t help but laugh. Maybe there was something to all this hocus pocus. I guess I would find out soon enough.

As it turns out, finding movers on short notice over a holiday weekend proved to be a much more difficult task than previously thought. So the couch would remain there, in the cold corner of the storage room for one more match up. When Monday night rolled around, I texted my mother: IF THE CANES GO DOWN TONIGHT, MY FATHER WILL HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT HIMSELF. AND HIS ASS FOR NOT BEING ON THAT GREEN COUCH.

Four quarters, a turkey burger, and two beers later… I knew the answer. As I crawled into bed at my Hoboken apartment in dismay, my father was singing a different tune down in Tampa. He walked into the bedroom where he awakened my mother and three sleeping Dobermans in their bed.

“Well,” he said, “I didn’t need my couch.”

And like that.. the curse was over.

Maybe all this karma crap really is just a bunch of hocus pocus. Or maybe it’s just our way of explaining why certain things in life happen the way they do. It doesn’t explain how bad things still happen to good people and how others reap what they sew, but it goes to show you that maybe life is just in the hands of fate. In reality, were really all just being tested. Our wills to succeed, prosper, survive. But some aspects of life and their outcomes we simply can’t explain. So we use Karma as our virtual scapegoat. Sure, she can be a real bitch, but she can also bring you a little luck too. And like the saying goes, sometimes I would rather be lucky than good. So maybe it doesn’t take a green couch, or an unwashed jock strap, or a crazy prophet with a goat (Google it)… maybe all it really takes is hard work, faith, and luck. After all, couldn’t we all just use a little more of that???

The green couch still resides in a climate controlled storage space off of Bearss Road in Lutz. If any 'Nole fans happen to own a large truck, and are attending next year’s match up.. I might be able to get you the access code to the unit. I’m not saying I believe in all this junk.. I’m just saying.. I have a score to settle. :)

(To Be Continued… 2010)


anthony0358 said...

As a huge college football fan I enjoyed this blog so much!
This is why College Football is one of my favorite sports and the Canes-Noles rivalry is one of the best in College football

Thank you so much for sharing this with us and have a great day

Fern said...

You're right in saying its all "hocus pocus" hogwash... Its all a matter of noticing the coincidences you *want* to notice.

How many times have you said "I was *just* thinking about you" to someone as they walk in the door? Doesn't make you psychic, in fact, if you were to count the other times you were thinking about that person and they didn't show up... you would have been boo'ed off the stage at any local psychic acts.

Another example: when you drive a new car (maybe not new from the dealership, but new to you), you'll start noticing that a LOT of people are driving the same car. Its just your subconscious reminding you what your own car looks like (probably for parking purposes), and you end up noticing all the pick ups that you never cared about when you were driving your sedan.

Your green couch might have worked a dozen times before, but think about it, somewhere on the other side of the state someone else forgot to do their ritual and think they just jinxed the game, while you did the regular ritual and think its all fine.

Joey said...

I'm still sickened by the game! I would have bet my left N _ T that we could have scored in 5 plays from the Goal Line.. Wouldn't have worked out so well, now would it have?!

I think Bobby B need's to read some of your blogs referencing " Wasted Time", B/C he defenetly did that with those much needed 25 seconds at the end!

My truck will gladly esscort the couch to next year's game for either a burial, or reserection party! Hell, if it's in Talli and we loose again, we'll just drop it off at Indian Village and let them have it!

Veritas said...

This blog sure was funny and deep.
I know that there are all type of beliefs specially in sports, but to be totally honest Jenn I have to say that most of them are down right stupid.
Personally I never blamed or atributed my favorite sports team for losing or winning just because of a detail like wearing a special type of shirt or any other thing, because I know, you know and anyone that doesn't have mental problems know that in sports luck or the lack of it is only on the minds of those that believe in that.
To me if a my team wins or looses is all doe to how the team played, it's all about that thing call "team spirit" or has I like to call it "team brotherhood", any team that lacks that will lose for sure, it doesn't matter if the team has a multi-million dolar player if the team doesn't back him up, it's has simple has that, team is the key word in sports not luck or the lack of it.
And who says sports can also take it and put it to all things in life.
You beeing where you are now has nothing to do with luck but rather with a simple event that took you where you are now, and you know this to be true, how many other girls had the change that you had and just blown it away, you had the smarts to take what was presented to you and tranformed it into something great but how many like you that simply didn't make it.
Many people can say to you Jenn that you where blessed and that simply all the good things fall in your lap, but I know that that isn't true, you are what you are now because you took something that could or not open new doors and oportunities to you and you had the smarts to take that chance and you came out winning.
Luck or bad luck, is nothing more than the result of one's decisions in a specific moment, and that is the formula for your sucess, you made the right decisions in the right moments, luck had nothing to do with it.
And also because you have a great team behind you, suporting you, your family, your friends, all the people that believe in you and have faith in you.
You are strong enough to take on anything has long has you don't loose the belief in yourself in your own strength and the faith in all the people that are here for you; the moment you lose that, trust me, you will lose everything.
So keep on going Jenn, because if there are things that may lack in your life, you definitely don't lack the team that will suport you all through out this game called life.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenn,
I saw the most recent SI article about the controversy regarding Bowden's retirement (or lack thereof). I graduated from FSU last December with a master's degree. I posted here before the Miami game last month. FSU is struggling badly. I trust FSU makes the right decision. I still work in Tallahassee but am applying to a PhD at USF - Go Bulls. I have played flag football with guys from Lincoln HS at Tom Brown Park. Ironically, their HS quarterback played for USF when they beat FSU. USF has a great engineering program and may give me a scholarship for spring admission. FSU is mainly for undergraduates. I want to get a PhD in a large metro area with more things to do as a working graduate student. Tampa and Orlando are great for that - especially with so many independent, educated beautiful women like you in that area. Take care. I am certain FSU will recover in the long run. Every major football program has had setbacks. USC had about a ten year losing streak to my undergraduate alma mater, Notre Dame, before "turning the tables" this past decade. FSU will be back.