When I was a young pup one of my Little League teams went the summer without a win. When you are 11 years old all you want to do is have fun with your friends, wins some games and get a trophy. Winning wasn’t life or death for me back then but getting beat day after day can really crush a kid's spirit.
After one of the many losses that year my mother took me aside and tried to comfort me saying that as the years go on losing will get easier to handle. She was right.
Losing (in whatever form) is still has painful as it ever was. That won’t change. The fact that it’s a binary occurrence and that some other jackass wins while I lose makes me saltier as I get older.
What got easier through the years is being wise enough to put things in perspective. I’ll still sleep like shit after mens league defeats or get pissy if I lose to a buddy in ping pong but realizing that the world doesn’t end because of a loss is probably what my mother was talking about.
That being said I’m crushed about the Bruins losing last night. I don’t know why I take these things so personally but I do and I’ve been sick to my stomach all morning. We were talking last night about the time I walked home from Grand Central after a heartbreaking Mets loss and I couldn’t even name which disastrous, soul-crushing loss it was. There have been about 5 in the last 10 years that qualify.
After one particular Mets collapse I remember waiting in the bathroom line (in a puddle, no less) where a guy looked at me after he was done with the urinal and said, “What? It’s not like this is the worst loss you’ve seen”. The guy didn’t even know me yet gave me one of the best come-to-Jesus talks in my career.
Perspective comes with age. It also helps when you lose a lot. This old salty Mets urinal guy had seen his share of disappointment and that helped soften each marginal blow. I bet my Mom knew because of the teams I rooted for and that I couldn’t hit Little League pitching that I was set up for some lean times in the years ahead. I should be a fucking pro at dealing with losing by now.
I have my special method.
First: I allow myself to be miserable for just a little bit. It’s ok to keep away from stuff that reminds me of the loss and to distract myself for a small period of time. I don’t let this last too long because I’m not the fucking lead singer of Staind.
Second: It’s time to meet the disappointment head on. I let the loss into my apt, let it crash on my couch. I let the loss drink all my booze and take over the bed. I let it make a mess and leave toe nail clippings in my sink. I let the loss answer my cell phone and swear at my friends. It’s important to let this loss run my shit for a little while because I want to hate that loss. I need to let it sink into the blood and make me physically ill. Losing is like a nerve gas, in order to detect it early and prevent it from killing you, one needs to be exposed to it.
Third: I wait one day when the loss is feeling the most comfortable in my place and I sneak up on it and choke that mufu to the ground. I drag the loss into the kitchen where I fashion its bones into arrowheads. I keep those arrowheads in my pocket and get them ready to fire at my next opponent.
So being 27 years old I now know that just because the Bruins or my rec hockey team gets knocked out of the playoffs its doesn’t mean that the world is on fire. There are teams whose seasons end much earlier and guys that got slew-footed by some asshole who are laid up on their hot older girlfriend’s coach right now. Shit, the kid from Slumdog got his house taken from him the other day. At the end of the day it’s really only a game.
But the losses still hurt and they should hurt. If it wasn’t a complete nightmare to lose then the day that I get to shoot my arrow wouldn’t feel so good. Maybe next year.
P.S. The Mets suck this year.