I have a headache, I feel dehydrated, my eyeballs are on fire and I’m nauseas. I’m not sure whether this is because I am apocalyptically hung over or because I just had my heart and soul put through an industrial press and then shit upon by a coked out elephant with a spastic colon. Maybe both? I don’t know.
What I do know – the only thing that I feel like I know right now – is that Fate is awful and cruel and unmerciful and that someone wearing Honolulu Blue, somewhere, sometime in the awful, awful past must have done something so obscenely terrible that we are doomed to be punished for his sins for all of eternity. Maybe Hitler was a Lions fan. Who knows?
I’m pretty sure that at some point last night I died, my soul carried off by the heathen spirits who lived at the bottom of all those terrible bottles of wine that lived behind the open bar at the wedding I attended yesterday. I was drinking wine because I am a civilized adult (Okay, fine, beer and wine were free and hard liquor was strictly cash bar, which is some bullshit, you know? I made my decision to drink wine because it is more efficient than beer and I was going for the Righteous Kill on my sobriety.) As I passed away, I screamed at the Grim Reaper and told him to let me go because I had a football game to watch. He just laughed at me, a sinister little snarl and then agreed to release me. I didn’t understand the meaning of the laughter until about an hour or so ago, at which point it became clear to me that the whole conversation was a terrible drunken delusion and that I had actually just died and gone straight to hell.
I don’t know how to talk about this. I just don’t. I’m tired and I’m drained and I wish I could tell everyone to buck up, that this was evidence of progress but I just can’t. My whole being feels like it was ripped apart like that dude in Hellraiser, like Fate, along with his agent of cruelty Julian Peterson and Jason Hanson’s knee and Ol’ Plucky and Matthew Stafford’s shoulder and the whole goddamned universe, conspired to rise up through my anus and tear through my intestines until they were all swarming and howling around my chest cavity, at which point they devoured my heart whole and left me a broken shell, lying lifeless on the floor, just waiting for hell’s garbage man to come along and fling my desiccated corpse into Satan’s dumpster.
For the majority of the game, I convinced myself that we were locked in some sort of Holy War of attrition, that even though Matthew Stafford had once again been murdered and Jason Hanson’s legs had been whipped upon by a clearly possessed Trevor Pryce and Jahvid Best was getting beaten up all day and Cliff Avril had been carried away by his spirit horse that at the end of the day we would win, that this was the price for glory, that it would somehow all mean . . . something.
Everyone laughed when Ndamukong Suh came out to kick the extra point. I did not laugh. I felt it then – that it was a terrible omen sent by Fate to warn us to just commit ritual suicide right then and there – but I still believed because I have embraced belief and the world is simply not that cruel.
This is not The Fear. This is not even The Anger. This is just sheer and utter Bewilderment. This is . . . this is . . . how can I tell you what this is? How can I put into words the sheer naked emptiness of my spirit? The whole world seems barren and flat before me and I try to scream, but my throat is cracked, my voice useless and all that there is, is nothing, nothing, nothing . . .
As the Jets prepared to kick the field goal that would win them the game in overtime, the Lions called time out and I looked out the window, at the sun setting, cold and distant and I stared straight into it even though you aren’t supposed to do that, like a dying man daring the universe to give him his final, terrible kill shot. I stared and I stared and I stared and then I looked back and Nick Folk kicked the game winning field goal.
I shut off the television and I made something to eat. I tried to make sense of what had just happened but there was no sense to be made. How could there be? The only thing that I could tell myself was that there was no order to the universe, that all of this is just random and meaningless and that these things happen. The alternative was far too terrible. I couldn’t allow myself to believe that there was some sort of order to it all, some sort of cosmic meaning, because that would mean that as a Lions fan I was irrevocably doomed and that the universe did not exist for me but for others, and my existence was some sort of colossal error or a cosmic joke and that somewhere, Fate or God or Santa Claus or The Devil was laughing at me. Or hell, maybe they were all laughing at me.
I sat back down to eat something that hopefully wouldn’t make me want to throw up and I turned on the television, if only so I could find something – anything – that would take my mind off of what had just happened. The first words I heard were from a trailer for that new movie starring The Rock. They were loud, and they were said with the deep throated bass of a man meant to simulate the voice of ultimate authority, the voice of God, and those words were “You are already dead.”
How do you describe to people that your heart was just broken because your field goal kicker had his leg eaten by an out of control fat guy, and that because of this, the one point which made all the difference in the world was taken away from you because a second fat guy inexplicably managed to convince his coach that he should kick the ball? How do you explain to people how something that absurd, that random, could be the difference between utter joy and lifeless devastation? How do you even think about something like that without going utterly mad?
There will be people answering questions that no one should ever have to ask all week long. I will be among them. There will be people explaining that Suh is a former soccer player who has kicked in a pinch before. There will be people discussing Matthew Stafford’s brittleness. There will be people screaming at Julian Peterson and wondering why in the hell the team decided to throw the ball on 3rd down up three with less than two minutes left in the game and with the Jets out of timeouts. There will be people wondering what would have happened if Ol’ Plucky’s harried pass managed to be just a little more on the mark of if Jerome Felton would have just clutched the ball to his chest. There will be people complaining about tackling and someone, somewhere, will scream about The Same Ol’ Lions. But today, right now, there are no answers, just the dull echo of a final gunshot, the lingering smell of smoke and burning gunpowder still hanging in the stale, dead air, and the realization that there is a bullet hole in our chest and that where our heart used to be, there is only sadness and death and regret.
Frequent commenter and friend of the blog UpHere sent me an e-mail at some point in the game that simply asked “Is this heaven?” Next to it was his follow up e-mail, which simply answered “Nope. Not heaven.” Nope. Not heaven. Never heaven. So, where are we then? I don’t need to tell you. You know. We all know. Here, heaven is just a rumor, a silly idea, and the universe is appalling and cruel and all that there is, is a memory of what could have been and the sadness that will live inside of that memory until the end of time.