I admit I’ve been spoiled.
For most of the past two and half years I’ve enjoyed just about every Liverpool fixture live. No matter my late hours working in restaurants, I’ve usually been able to trek down to our pub (or at least roll out of bed and catch the matches that were on ESPN or FSC) and watch the action unfold as it happened. Gone were the days of waiting for somebody else to tape the match or catching it on a delayed broadcast after work. My work schedule fit my Liverpool schedule almost perfectly.
But now I’ve started a new job. A job that serves a renowned brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Shifts I can no longer get out of for sure (and that are often too profitable to miss). So I’ve found myself missing the live broadcast more frequently.
The most recent was the match against Burnley. I had to work Sunday morning. And since the match was on the new Fox Soccer Plus, which I don’t have, I knew I wouldn’t be able to tune into the rebroadcast at 8pm at home. So I called the pub in the morning and got Julie, the bartender, who promised to dvr the match for me. (And, no, my non-football-mad coworkers couldn’t fathom why I was popping outside to call another bar to tape something for me.)
Now, I was safe, at least for a few hours. The place where I work typically doesn’t have sports on unless a customer asks for a specific event. So there was no danger of me accidentally catching a scoreline scrolling across the bottom of ESPN or a highlight popping up on SportsCenter. Also, that morning’s dark skies cleared up and our patio became full of cheerful people out to enjoy the nice weather (and tip well). It was a good day.
I finished up work in the early evening, hopped on the bus and scooted down to the pub. While I would miss being in a roomful of fellow supporters with the sound on (another area where I’ve been greatly spoiled as a stateside lover of English football), at least I could watch the match with all the suspense of not knowing what was going on.
That’s when I ran into Marvin.
Marvin is a regular at the pub. Most of the regulars I know, go to this pub because it’s one of the best pubs to watch our sport in the city. Many of us go specifically because one of the owners is a Liverpool supporter and has gladly allowed his pub to become the home of Boston’s LFC supporters club. Marvin (who’s name will be changed here because, while I doubt he frequents the internet, one never knows, and besides, if one is nice to Marvin, he loves to buy rounds on payday), however, goes simply because the pub is there. Yes, this is the oldest reason in the world people go to pubs, and I can’t fault Marvin for it. But my point is, Marvin and I are not on the same wavelength in terms of why we are there. But Marvin often happens to be there when Liverpool play. Just as he was earlier in the day. Something that becomes clear as I ask if the bartender will put my match on.
“Oh, Liverpool?” says Marvin, leaning sociably in my direction. “They won, didn’t they?”
The last several hours of avoiding foreknowledge and suppressing anticipation was all for nothing. They won, didn’t they. Then, something occurs to me that brightens my night and renews my ability to watch my match with full enjoyment. Marvin almost never knows what he’s talking about. Yes, he may well have seen the result today and be giving away the ending. But it is also entirely possible that he is thinking of a match from earlier in the week. Or earlier in the month. The year. This is how aloof Marvin almost always is. (Something else I can’t fault Marvin with. I tend to be the same way with family events and brief acquaintances’ first names.) Hell, Marvin could be thinking of another team. He might be thinking of Manchester United beating somebody. Or Arsenal. He could be thinking of the last time the Boston Celtics won the NBA title. Or the Red Sox winning the World Series[sic]. He could be thinking of Sandra Bullock winning the Oscar over Meryl Streep!
It really doesn’t matter. What matters is I put enough doubt in my own mind about Marvin knowing what the result was. I was like the jury and the seed of reasonable doubt had been planted. Now, I could tune in and watch Steven Gerrard, Maxi Rodriguez and Ryan Babel score four goals against Burnley and truly feel like nothing had been spoiled for me. Maybe Marvin saw it all coming, but I didn’t care.
Fortunately, I don’t have to take any risks today. I’m off to watch the second leg against Atletico. And this time I’m watching live.