Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fantasy in advance of a playoff game

The Steelers have a playoff game at 6:00.

I plan to go grocery shopping at 6:00, because I know the store will be empty.

I've often wished that I cared enough about football to fully enter the experience of watching a game with a group of Brothas.

But while I'm wishing, I may as well fantasize about what I would really love to have happen...

I'm at an extended family gathering. Nice sunny day, food everywhere. My wife and I arrive, and she gravitates toward the kitchen, where a bunch of women have congregated.

The sound of male voices pulls me toward the basement. The ManCave. Yeah, the Brothas are here, and they are whooping it up big-time.

"Whoa! Check him out, check him out!"

"No, wait. Listen, y'all, listen!. You got to hear this!"

The voices quiet, and I orchestra, with strings leading an upward line capped by a trill by the flutes. I know this's Mahler's Second Symphony, one of my favorites!

Just as I enter, one brotha's enthusiasm pushes him to his feet.

"Did you hear that? Did you get that trill? I am telling you, nobody does Mahler like Lenny! Not Bruno Walter, not Herbert van Karajan. NO-BO-DY!"

He's blocking their view of Leonard Bernstein and the London Symphony Orchestra on the giant flatscreen TV, not to mention drowning out the high-end sound system.

"Man, sit down and let us listen to this thing!"

They acknowledge me with the reverse nod, "Sup, bruh," and make room for me on the couch.

And my heart leaps with joy. I am at home among my brothers like never before, not needing to pretend to care about a touchdown or a dunk shot. I am with Black men who are instead passionate indeed about crescendos and decrescendos and melody and harmony and counterpoint and orchestration...

Someone pushes a cooler toward me with his foot. I reach in, grab a beer, and pop it open. A root beer. No shame in my game.

As the symphony unfolds, we alternately high-five well-turned phrases, add our voices to the timpani, ("Boom, boom, boom!") and co-conduct our favorite parts. And sometimes we all quiet ourselves together because it is just too good to do anything but listen, listen, listen from the core of our beings.

And at the explosive, heaven-storming conclusion, some of us can't hold back.

We do chest bumps.

"Aufersteh'n, ja aufersteh'n! That's what I'm talkin about!!"

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