Everyone at my house knows this is my favorite time of year, by far. I wait through three seasons for the cool air and the bright leaves and the vivid skies. For the long runs, the bonfires, the chili, the boots. I plan massive, unruly parties for both Halloween and Thanksgiving just because, hey, fall!
But every year, as fall approaches, I forget this one thing about it: Sports. So many sports. Sports all the time. Sports on every television and sports in every conversation and sports on every Facebook post. Bleh.
There's the whole football thing, of course. A big deal, right, I know. But then the baseball thing has not wrapped yet, so it's all happening at once. And I am pretty much curled up in a chair reading the biography of James Agee on the screened porch, waiting for it all to be over so I can talk to people again.
By the way, did you know James Agee was a terrible person? It's so disconcerting to discover that someone whose work you admire was a terrible person. Are greatness and terribleness somehow connected? Will it affect my perception of his work, to know that he was a terrible person? And did you know he is a distant cousin of my mother's?
See, normally we would talk about this at my house. It would be kitchen-table conversation, and the kids would ask me who James Agee was and I would tell them about "A Death in the Family" and "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" and his career at Fortune and Time magazines.
But no. What are people talking about at my house? Dawgs and Vols, Braves and that other team that beat them recently and it was a big deal for some reason. Something about playoffs. I don't know, and I'm not looking it up.
I can't even take solace in the company of my girlfriends. They are all rabid sports fans, too. One of my best and funnest girlfriends took me to the first college football game I ever attended in 2010. Harvard vs. Columbia. It was lovely -- Massachusetts in the fall and everything. But she said it wasn't really a college football game in the traditional sense. So a couple of years later, she and I and my husband and our sons went to see Georgia Tech (his alma mater) play the University of Virginia (her home state).
"This is really fascinating as a cultural experience," I remarked at one point. "Look at all these peculiar things these people are doing and wearing for no real reason at all."
So it turns out I am embarrassing at football games. Whatever. I'll bring a book next time.
Work offers no solace, either. I mean, we are busy working, so you would think this sports thing would not interfere. But you would be wrong. It's all anyone talks about at lunch or when meetings are gearing up or ramping down. Even when we talk about work, people use sports analogies, and I occasionally have to interrupt.
"Look, I don't know what that means, about downs or whatever you just said. Just tell me what is happening."
It's OK, though. It will be over soon and we can get on with the serious business of literary discussion around the bonfire. And then, in February or March, people will start talking incessantly about that grid thing they all fill out for basketball. Though I've been told in no uncertain terms that it's not called a grid. It's called something else. A chart?
Heck, I don't know. And I'm not looking it up.
Contact Mary Fortune at thirtytensomething.blogspot.com.