Winning for losing. My brief moment in the national spotlight.
October 6, 2008
So, I’m sitting in my 7th row seat behind the home dugout watching the Chicago Cubs get their butts beat by the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLDS. Really, I’m spacing out. It’s nearly midnight and the game is out of reach. The Cubs are playing an untimely, terrible game of baseball. Earlier they’d made three errors in one inning. By now the crowd has thinned like my brow in the nineties. My buddy left me for a pretzel.
Suddenly, my pocket vibrates. At this hour I figure it’s spam so I ignore it. Moments later I feel the pulse again. Worrying about an emergency at home, I retrieve my phone. Three texts. One of them is titled OMG!
WTF, I wonder, opening the emails. The first message is from an account director at work. The second from an artist’s representative I had lunch with last week. And the third comes all the way from Europe, from my half brother. He writes: “You’re not gonna believe this, bro. It’s 6AM and I’m watching the telecast at a hotel bar in Amsterdam. Manny jacks a homer and TBS cut to YOU sitting all alone in the stands. They stayed on you for like forever!”
In reality, they stayed on me for less than ten seconds but those 7.5 were incredibly potent. Even as I’m reading his text, another one is coming in. Same thing. I’ve been seen on National TV. And that person is calling to tell me about it.
By the time my friend returns to our seat I’ve gotten a few more texts. The game has lost all meaning now. I’m the most important thing in Wrigley field! I tell him what’s up. He knows. His wife called.
The Cubs blow another scoring opportunity and we leave. Walking up Sheffield, a reveler spills out of a bar. Looking at me, he bellows: “Hey, dude, you were on TV!”
When I finally get home after midnight my wife is waiting up. “You’re not going to believe this,” she tells me…I finish her sentence. “You saw me on TV.”
The next day at work more of the same. Walking to the coffee station I’m accosted by “fans” of my performance last night. Half the people in my office saw me on TV and they tell me about it. One says he recorded the game and will forward me the segment.
Oh brother. I have not been this famous…ever. And all I had to do was… nothing. I was sitting and staring. I rubbed my face. So random was my television debut but even so… I’m kinda, sorta famous!
I have to wonder. Were those 7.5 seconds half my allotted quota of fame, as suggested by Andy Warhol? And an even deeper question: Does just being on TV make one a celebrity? I hate to say it but I felt all tingly being recognized, like I was somehow greater than I was before, or more dastardly, greater than other people! Depending on your definition of famous, maybe I am a celebrity! After all, people saw me on TV. And it excited them. Granted, I was being portrayed as a symbol of 100 years of futility, but I was ON TV.
We really do live in fame-obsessed time and place.
I’ve written two novels. I’ve created three children. I’ve had a blessed 20-year career in advertising. But this? This is my zenith. I mean those other so-called accomplishments didn’t get me recognized on Sheffield Avenue.