My 10-year-old daughter had some pretty sound advice from me Sunday as I took turns biting my nails and screaming at the television during the Bears-Ravens game.
“Dad,” Delaney said, “maybe you should cheer for the other team.”
That was the best advice I’ve heard in quite some time. I’m not sure exactly how the girl meant it, but I don’t think she wanted me to abandon the team I have loved since I first heard the words Walter Payton sometime in the 1970s.
I’d like to think she was returning the advice I gave her about watching scary movies a few months ago.
Ever since I was a kid I absolutely hated watching scary movies. I still do. I have always had a hard time figuring why anybody would want to watch a movie that would give them nightmares.
I still have a hard time sleeping since I watched the original Nightmare On Elm Street when I was 13.
Still, I have had friends, cousins and dates who insisted on watching scary flicks over the years, so I came up with a defense mechanism. I started cheering for the bad guys.
Seriously, when you watch a scary movie it isn’t so scary when you are cheering for the bad guy. Sure, you might get frustrated at Jason for not hustling a little bit more after the young woman, but for the most part you will get through the movie without serious anxiety.
Think about it, wouldn’t Scream be a much better movie if you were cheering for the boys with the knife to quit fumbling around and just kill that annoying Sidney already?
I think I actually came up with this theory at a very young age. It was before I can even remember, actually.
My parents took me to the Fox Theater when I was just 2 years old. The place was packed to the rafters, and the crowd was as tense as could be when King Kong picked up Jessica Lange and held her up close to his face.
I broke the silence by yelling, “Eat ‘er up, King Kong!” Everybody in the place heard it, and it is probably my dad’s fondest memory of my childhood.
The strategy paid off for me immediately. While some kids might have left that theater terrified by the giant gorilla, I left there saddened that King Kong died on an empty stomach.
While other kids had nightmares, I slept like a baby.
Now, I might want to take my daughter’s advice and do the same thing when I watch sports.
When I look back at it now, following the Red Sox through the 2013 playoffs was very much like watching 16 terrifying movies that lasted four hours.
I sat there trembling just like I did when Candyman confronted Helen in the parking garage. I could actually feel myself turning white.
(Note: My normal defense mechanism to scary movies wasn’t in place for that 1992 movie because I was tricked into watching it.)
Sunday’s game was really terrifying. The Ravens driving inside the Bears’ 5-yard line in the final seconds was akin to seeing the creepy Jack Nicholson stare through the hole in the door and say “Wendy, I’m home” in The Shining.
So, maybe I should start rooting really hard for the opposition in an attempt to make my Sunday afternoons much more enjoyable.
As it is now, I clearly can’t handle watching the Bears. Each week sees me going through a roller coaster of emotions that would baffle even the world’s best psychiatrists. I’m like a 13-year-old girl watching the Blair Witch Project.
I teach my kids new swearwords every week. I throw things. I hit things. Then I celebrate like a cheerleader on a big play.
The kids fear I am going to throw the remote control or my cell phone through our television.
My ups and downs go from quarter to quarter and play to play. Just when things seem to be getting good, the let a has-been running back bust off a 60-yard run. Untouched.
It’s like when a sunny day at the lake turns quickly to dark, and Jason starts stabbing everybody.
The team has basically tortured me for the better part of three decades. In the time the Packers had two Hall of Fame quarterbacks take all their snaps, the Bears used at least 90. That includes the likes of Jonathan Quinn, doesn’t have the skills to lead the East Bullpups.
Then when the team finally gets a coach who understands offense, they have perhaps the worst defense in football history.
Each week it seems like that defense steps up its game of atrocities to make me lose my mind. Just when I think I am not going to get excited or upset, 106-year-old, fat-and-out-of-shape Brandon Jacobs matches his age with rushing yards.
My Grandma Mary is 93, and I guarantee that she could gash the Bears defense for 93 yards. In Chicago’s defense, though, my grandma is quite agile for her age.
So, this Sunday I will attempt to flip this 28-year horror flick upside down. I will try a strategy that will make George Costanza proud and do the opposite.
I will cheer for the Rams when the Bears go to St. Louis, and hopefully watch the game like a rational human being.
Then maybe I won’t throw the remote through the TV when a Rams running back I never heard of rushes for two bill.
—Bill Foley, who really did root for the 1958 Plymouth Fury in Christine, writes a column that appears on ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74. 1 comment