This morning, standing in line for my bagel, a Yankee Fan walks by, whistling. "You waiting in line?" I nod. He looks at my hat, the Boston "B" staring him in the face. "Sox Fan, huh? Nice job." and he winks at me, smiling.
What the ... ?
I have some serious moral objections to this "Good show, old chap!" public display of affection for the enemy. For years I watched the Yankees beat the Red Sox, in the most painful and inhumane ways devised by man, and I hated every minute of it. I had to listen to the chants of "1918" and "Boston Sucks!" every time I went to the Stadium. I had random people knock my Boston cap off my head on the street. Now, all of a sudden, the Yankee Fan is telling me, "Hey, I
didn't mean it. Come here, let me give you a noogie. Let's be friends."
I repeat: What the ... ?
Now, when I say I hate the Yankees, I don't necessarily mean that I hate Jorge Posada (although I do). I really mean that I hate the Yankee Fan. So much so that I sometimes have trouble reconciling my hatred with the fact that some of my friends, who are otherwise completely decent human beings, inexplicably root for the Yankees.
Mixed with the hate, though, there was always fear and loathing. I was terrified to see Jeter come up to the plate in late innings. I had nightmares about Mo Rivera, complete with a Metallica soundtrack and everything. And I never, ever, bet against them.
But today it's a different story. This series was cathartic, for two reasons:
- the Sox beat the Yanks
- they did it in the most painful and embarassing way anybody has ever seen in baseball, ever. Ouch.
So, cleansed, I walked out into the Great Big World this morning, fearing no team or fan, with the mystique of the Yankees laying in smoking ruins in the Bronx. Afraid no more, I'm now confident that the ghosts have been cast out and that the Sox may now commence a decade of dominance in the AL East. And that's a nice feeling.
But that fear of the opponent isn't gone. Fandom is a zero-sum-game. Like an immutable law of thermodynamics, fan anxiety can't be destroyed, it can only be converted -- and I can see it on the face of every Yankee Fan on the train and on the street. The smile, the wink: it's a cover for the paralyzing fear that for their team, which was so good to them for so long, the beginning of the end has finally come.
It's like the Germans saying, "Hey, Allies, nice job there with that Normandy thing, you guys really deserved to win one," all the while calling frantically for another Panzer division and calculating routes of retreat.
So: I am not buying this phony-baloney hail-fellow-well-met schtick.
Now I'm torn as to how I should react to the Yankee Fan standing in front of me, mugging like a chimp. My options, as far as I can tell, are:
- ignore the Yankee Fan completely,
- tell him exactly how much I hate him and his team, and how long I've been waiting for EXACTLY this chance to tell him all about it, punctuated with four-letter words,
- start a rousing chant of "Yankees Suck!" or
- act smugly superior.
In the end, I went with (d), and wiped the grin off his face with a patronizing, "You'll get 'em next year."