“Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember but the story.”
Sitting in bed, propped against my pillow, I have to fight every inclination to get out. An adult in more than age for a few years now, I have a physical tomorrow. I am in decent health, and should incur no monetary penalties from the insurance company. Normal stuff really. But still I sit, ill at ease. I have no idea how I ended up here, in this bed. When did I have to start worrying about my health, the outcome of a physical? When did I grow up? It doesn’t happen overnight, and to be sure it isn’t obvious. This led me to pick up my favorite book, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. As much about Truth, Memory, and the art of narrative as it is about Vietnam--the text never fails to enlighten me in times of confusion. And, after reading some passages, it hit me: the events that are responsible for my new standing in life no longer exist, they are only memories to me and the others that share them, they are a story.
This realization led me to the site, this site, our site. For what this site does is more than give us updates on squad rotation, transfer targets, and matches: it gives us stories, it reminds us who we are, who we want to be, and sometimes how far we fall short.
In his brilliant short story “Spin”, Tim O’Brien posits that “[on] occasions the war was like a Ping-Pong ball. You could put fancy spin on it, you could make it dance” (pg 32). Using the Vietnam War as his means, O’Brien creates a narrative that speaks to a story’s unique ability to attribute meaning to the literal, to add dimension to an action passed, to make memories reverberate. Using the arc of each Premier League campaign as our fuel, and the site as our means, the Commentariat attempt to do the very same thing to our support of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club: we want it to sing.
Like the time I invited my friend over to my dim, 56th St. apartment in order to watch a five pm replay of Spurs-Bolton. Niko Krancjar struck a game winner in stoppage time, and I was screaming at the top of my lungs, playing the air guitar. We were drinking Furthermore Proper, we had eaten sub sandwiches. We had watched other matches together, but this cemented his passion. He hasn't missed too many since that day.
Or the time I woke up to a full bag of McDonald’s at my side. I had slept on the couch after another night of fighting with my girlfriend. Another bender. I was sick of regrets so I drove down Howard Avenue to Bay View, to Highbury, to watch Spurs lose to United 3-1. It was the first match I watched live, after two years of following online.
I remember Ben, my friend, telling me that he tears up when he hears “When the Spurs Go Marching In”. Upon watching the 5-0 dismantling of Newcastle, I remember feeling a certain melancholy. Harry had just come back, we were fluid, and we would not be this good, maybe, ever again. We were like football heaven. We saved Louis Saha, Emmanuel Adebayor, Scott Parker from their purgatories. THFC was a revelation. That night was spectacular, the high water mark, and I was sad. Football breeds paradox.
It is the nights I spent in my apartment on Kane Place, two blocks from Lake Michigan, absorbing Tottenham’s history. It is that kitchen stool that marked my last years of the School of Education; it is that stool that begot my love of Spurs. It is the mornings in Howard Avenue’s galley kitchen, brewing coffee, sitting low on the ottoman pulled against a wall of cupboards, laptop streaming the Barclays Premier League, while outside the seasons changed from summer to fall. It is the black mornings of match day in the pub, the stale smell of beer mixing with watered down bleach, as the owner cleans around the early arrivals, the dividing heat of match day only lukewarm and collegial at dawn. It is the sweet sausage and eggs, served with peppers. It is the chorizo and eggs with tortillas, when we all stand around the frying pan, not wanting to sit down. None of these memories have a result.
Or the time I bought shot after shot to numb the reality of Chelsea winning the Champions’ League, and one of the guys drinking with us got up and left, fearing for his physical well being. Or the time I told the bartender that I couldn’t drink any more steins of Oktoberfest, I needed to sober up for a family party later in the day. She offered me water. I told her to grow up, that’s just my way of ordering a Pabst.
This one gets me every time. Ledley King retired, and we talked about how unfair it is that his knees betrayed him. Which led to me thinking about many of the students I’ve taught, and that they are poor, and maybe hungry, and that, maybe, “unfair” and “betray” are strange words that prove how large, and inexact, language is.
But, on the other hand, Fabrice Muamba--and Petrilli’s piece in the aftermath--proved why sport does matter.
I have many interests in life, and sometimes I feel guilt over how much I care about Spurs; but, then I usually just have a laugh, realizing that--it seems--I am in good company.
Because as O'Brien notes, “I feel guilty sometimes...I should forget it. But the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget...[t]hat’s the real obsession. All those stories” (pg 34-35).
O’Brien, T. (1990). The things they carried. (Paperback Ed. ed.). New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.