Home, home again.
I’ve been thinking a lot about something my good pal (and yours) UpHere said in the comments following Apocalypto: the football game. He compared our situation as fans to that of trailer park trash that wins the lottery and thinks things have changed only to find out that, in the end, we are who we always were and AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH COBRAS
Ahem. Anyway, he’s right. I haven’t said this in a while because, hey, things were going good and there was no need to bring up such ugly things but being a Lions fan has always felt an awful lot like being in an abusive relationship. You get your ass kicked over and over again and yet you can’t leave because things are gonna change and he really loves you and nobody understands our love. Meanwhile, we creep through life, hiding our bruises and our scars, both ashamed and terrified, not sure what the hell we are doing or where we are going but feeling utterly powerless to do anything about it.
Right, but then those numbers hit, Jim Schwartz showed up with a big ass check and a smile and the Lions hugged us back, told us they loved us and promised us that everything would be okay. And for a while, they were. Life isn’t easy, no matter how bright the future looks and so we struggled to trust both ourselves and our newly reformed man. But the Lions quit drinking, cleaned up their act and started treating us right and month after month things got better. It wasn’t easy but we learned to trust him at least a little and pretty soon we were moving from the trailer to a deluxe apartment in the sky, or at least a rented house with central air.
But that lottery money kept coming in and we did what idiots do when given a shitload of money and bought ourselves a bunch of cool toys, big ass powerboats that we would rev whenever we flew by the old couples’ place along the river because we’re assholes, fast cars, Ndamukong Suhs, shotguns that shot candy and unicorn wishes and all sorts of awesome shit. Our man had cleaned up his act and even started taking care of the baby so we could go out with our friends and have a good time every now and then.
Soon, we moved into a brand new condo down by the water and even though we still didn’t totally fit in, and even though the squares kept staring at us because we swore and spit and would get into fights every now and then at the beer tents during carnivals, we had that lotto money and our man was still keeping his shit together and so we just rolled with it. If other people couldn’t handle who we were then fuck them.
But then our man started coming with us to the bar. At first he just drank non-alcoholic beer and would drive us home and it seemed like he was going to keep it together forever. But he wasn’t quite himself and so we told him it was okay if he had a beer every now and then. So he did and still, everything was cool. He didn’t drive us home anymore but that was cool. We were living like kings and queens and tomorrow promised nothing but more dough rolling in and good times, man, good times.
Then he started getting in fights. Not with us, but with other drunks. He’d say he was trying to defend our honor and that it wasn’t his fault, that he was being set-up and goaded into these brawls and we believed him because hey, that’s our man and fuck everyone else. Even when the cops started hauling him in every weekend, we just blamed them, told everyone that they just had it out for him because of past problems that he had and wondered why everyone couldn’t just forgive him like we did. Of course, we never noticed – or perhaps we did and just chose to look the other way – that he was getting drunk every night now and he even left the baby at the supermarket that one time, just sitting in the cart.
But he never laid a hand on us and things were good. The condo was beautiful, the lake was warm and filled with beautiful people and goddammit this was just the way life was supposed to be. This was the American Dream, promised to us all our lives, all our parents’ lives, all our grandparents’ lives, and we were finally getting what we deserved, what they deserved but could never have. Yes, maybe there was a place in this world for us after all. So what if our man drinks every now and then? We’re rich and only getting richer and even though he makes an ass out of himself sometimes people don’t see the way he looks at us at night, when it’s just the two of us. He’s not perfect and even though we’re secretly a little disappointed that he started drinking too much again and don’t want him to get in any more fights, we love him and everything else is just so much noise.
But then we took that trip down to New Orleans. He fell in with some degenerates down there and never came back to the hotel room on the last night. We cried and worried that he might have gotten in trouble with the cops again since they just won’t leave him alone no matter where he goes, which can’t be his fault, uh-uh, no way. So we grabbed the baby and went looking for him, only to find him doing heroin down by the banks of the Mississippi. We started crying because this was just too much but he promised that this was just a one-time thing and that when we got home everything would be alright. We wiped the tears away and said okay, we believed him. He asked to hold the baby and we weren’t sure but he cried and told us that he needed to feel the love of his family if he was going to pull it together. So we handed him the baby but he dropped the baby and the baby rolled into the river. Thankfully we were able to fish the little guy out but he might have brain damage now.
We came back home and he told us over and over again how sorry he was, and even though it was hard we accepted his apology and tried to be a family again. After all, we loved him and maybe hitting rock bottom like that again was what he needed to clean himself up again. And he did – or at least it looked like it. He bought some more shiny toys and even told one of his old friends, a meth dealer named Berry, to get the fuck out of our lives. We could trust him. He swore! And then came the incident at the bar. He told us that he wasn’t going to drink and we were so proud of him. He just wanted to come and hang out and give us a ride home. Awww, isn’t that sweet? But then he disappeared for a half hour. We went looking for him and found him coming in a back door. His hair was plastered to his forehead with sweat and his sleeves were rolled up. We quickly tried checking for track marks but he hid his arms and said he had to go to the bathroom. When he came back out his sleeves were rolled down and he looked better. He smiled at us, kissed us on the forehead and told us that everything would be okay and we believed him. He drove us home and we made love that night and believed that everything would be okay.
The next week we found him passed out on the couch and when we woke him we could smell liquor on his breath. He sobbed, apologized and told us that he had had a hard day, and that he wasn’t perfect. We just had to accept that sometimes he was gonna slip and we said okay, both because we loved him and because hey, that sounded reasonable. After all, he was only human. Of course, we had friends that told us we were nuts, that reminded us of all the times he had let us down in the past, but that just made us angry and we told them to back off, to mind their own business because everyone deserves a second chance, especially the ones we love and besides, he hadn’t hit us in years. They reminded us of the baby but we said that was all just a big mistake and to stay out of our lives if they couldn’t be supportive.
And then we went to his family reunion down in Tennessee. It was a fun drive down and we laughed and played music, sang along and talked about all our plans for the future. But as soon as we pulled into his grandparent’s farm, he looked at us, tears in his eyes and told us that we were getting kicked out of the condo. We were shocked and we asked him why and he told us that there had been some bullshit mix-up at the bank and that he would take care of everything when we got home. It hit us hard and we asked him why he didn’t tell us before but he just looked away and mumbled something about not wanting to let us down.
He seemed distant at the reunion, sorta sad and broken down, in a way that seemed terrifyingly familiar, but we couldn’t quite put our finger on it. But then we saw him hanging around with his cousin Stan, who we forbid him from seeing after we won the lottery because he was a no good dirtbag who had once burned down our trailer. They kept looking at us and there was something weird in his eyes. We lost sight of him for a while after that and we tried to have a good time but his family was getting rowdy and it almost seemed like they resented us. His grandma cornered us in the kitchen, breath stinking of whiskey and lectured us about pretending to be something we weren’t, told us not to go thinkin’ we were better than we were and then she took the baby and disappeared.
A couple of hours later, he came back, high as a kite, drunk, with that mean look in his eye that we thought he’d left behind forever. We started crying and told him not to do this, that he didn’t have to be like Stan anymore, and he told us to shut up, that we ruined his life and stole all his lotto money, money that he could have used to help Stan start that custom detailing business, and then slapped us, hard, across the mouth. We couldn’t believe it and it didn’t seem like he could either. He apologized and told us it wouldn’t happen again but goddammit, we‘ve heard that shit before.
The ride home was hellish. Neither one of us spoke much and he wouldn’t look us in the eye. He was all sweaty again and we knew that he had returned to his old ways. The baby wouldn’t stop crying and he got angry and threatened to leave it at a rest stop and even said he wished the brat had just drowned in the river, said that it would have saved us a lot of time and money, money that he didn’t have. We asked him about the lotto money and he just got angry, said there was no more goddamn lotto money and then slapped us again.
We got home, only to find an eviction notice on the condo’s front door. He just shook his head, looked at us once, gave us the saddest smile we’ve ever seen and said “What did you expect?” What indeed?
And now all that’s left is to head back to the trailer park, to hope that one day he quits drinking again and that hopefully, in the meantime, he won’t smack us around too much. I guess we could leave but where would we go? This is our life, he is our man and we love him. And hey, maybe all those toys we bought will keep us happy for a while. You just don't understand. We love him.