There was nothing I could say. I was standing in a cavernous gym outside of Baltimore, watching my kid compete in her first official gymnastics meet. This was a long time coming for the girl. She had to practice for years to make the team, and she had to practice for months after that just to get to this first meet. And now it was all over.
The meet was some big shit, too. I had to pay $12 just to get in. BIG GYMNASTICS does not fuck around. There were teams coming in from all over the state, with fancy warmup jackets and bedazzled leotards. There were judges and big electronic scoreboards that posted your name and score after every event, down to the thousandth decimal point. There were hundreds of parents milling around, most of them reasonable but some of them certifiably insane in that fabled American Sports Parent way (I overheard one mom who was utterly disgusted with her kid’s performance, telling a friend, “I’m gonna kill her”). There was a huge concession stand selling t-shirts and leotards and even leotards for your American Girl doll if you needed one. There was a grandstand, mostly covered in jackets people had taken off and had nowhere else to put. They even played the anthem before the kids got started.
I watched all of it. You have to be vigilant at one of these things because there’s a shitload of downtime, but then suddenly it’s your kid’s turn and you don’t get much warning. By natural law, your kid will get her number called the moment you decide to check your phone or take a shit. So I made sure to keep a close eye on my kid during the meet so that I wouldn’t miss anything.
And I didn’t. As my kid’s team went from station to station—first the vault, then the uneven bars, then the balance beam, then the floor exercises—I dutifully followed along, jockeying for proper camera position. I smiled and waved to my kid before she competed, and then worried that I was TOO present, and that I would inadvertently be putting too much pressure on her. Parents do that. They make you self-conscious without realizing they’re doing it. At times, I tried to blend into the scenery, so that I wouldn’t distract her. Regardless, I watched her do all four events and acquit herself nicely. She fell off the balance beam, but nearly every kid did. After falling, she got right back on and kept going without pause. It was a GRITTY display. I was a very proud dad.
But pride wasn’t enough. After every event, there was a short but somehow interminable wait to see my kid’s score get posted. I could see her craning her neck, dying to know how she did. Then the scores would flash and she would respond with appropriate levels of either satisfaction or irritation. This was my first rodeo, so I had no idea if her scores were good for her age or not. I just nodded in approval at all of them like an idiot. 8.3! NOT BAD!
After the events, they gathered all the kids at one end of the gymnasium and made them sit on the floor while a second wave of competitors and parents mashed into the building. It took them nearly an hour to read off the results, awarding five places for five categories for four different age groups. If you have any beef with participation trophies, it should be that it takes too fucking long to hand them all out. But these were not mere participation trophies. This meet had real winners. They had a medal stand and everything. If you won, you got to stand on the top of it and get the medal hung around your neck, Simone Biles-style. If you lost, you had to sit there on that floor, watching other kids get their moment of glory.
My kid won nothing. Every time they got to her age group, I thought there might be a chance she’d get on the stand, but no. Instead, she got to hear name after name without ever hearing her own. Every time they moved on and her chances of winning dissipated, I died a little inside. Making matters worse, all of her teammates won medals (they came in second overall as a team), but she didn’t. When it was all over and they had no more medals left to hand out, she came to me and broke down in my arms. I took her to a corner so she could have some privacy. Her two coaches came over with the team trophy.
“Can you take care of this for us?” they asked.
“Okay,” she said, wiping away tears.
I remember when I would lose as a kid (happened a lot), and my parents would try to make it better by consoling me, but somehow everything they said just pissed me off. Now it was my turn to be the awkward sports parent. I tried my best to conjure that perfect Jason Seaver line that makes everything better. I told my kid she did great. She didn’t believe it. I told her that the team won and she was a big part of that. She didn’t believe that either. I told I loved her. She didn’t care. My love was a given. I told her that she loved what she was doing and that was all that mattered… that if you love doing something enough, success will come eventually. That kinda registered before she remembered that she still lost, and then she was upset again.
So I shut up and took her to Wendy’s instead. Everyone fails in life. It’s an important part of the learning process. But that doesn’t mean it sucks any less when it happens to you, or to someone you love. It still hurts, and it’s still final. And it’s not just the pain of losing that’s hard when you see your kid have a rough go of it, but the discouragement as well. You can temper a kid’s expectations all you like, but they still dream big. They can’t help it. I spent a lot of that car ride worried that she’d give up, worried she would decide that if losing sucks this badly, why try at all?
But we drove home and, bit by bit, she calmed down and laughed and smiled and started to resemble herself again. She started doing cartwheels and handstands in the living room and driving me nuts, just like she did before the meet, before she got first taste of what sports can really do to you. She’s gonna try again. She’s gonna head back to that gym and do her work and try to get on that fucking medal stand. Maybe she’ll make it next time, or maybe she’ll be disappointed again. All I know is that seeing her bounce back made me prouder than seeing any medal go around her neck.
For real though, if she doesn’t get a medal at some point I’mma choke someone.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Raiders at Chiefs: I am concerned about Andy Reid’s mustache. It seems thinner than in recent years. It’s not the full, bushy, VIBRANT Reidstache I’ve come to grow and love. Perhaps the mustache changes depending on his mood, like a dog’s tail or Tom Coughlin’s nose.
By the way, please note that I’ll be adding extra profanity to the rest of the Jamboroo today in order to make up for going the Full Peter King on you at the top. I’M STILL FUCKING PUNK.
(hops in Kia)
(goes to CVS to pick up butt ointment)
Cowboys at Giants: In case you were unaware, the Giants have a grand total of one offensive personnel group:
I’ve always goofed on football coaches for making the game overly complicated, but this seems like a wild overcorrection. The Giants offense makes Jim Tressel’s playbook look like the fucking Kama Sutra. When you’re ranked 26th in total offense, maybe it’s worth going crazy and tossing a second tight end in there once in a while.
Ravens at Patriots: Has anyone tried the Subway Reuben yet? Not since the Arby’s pork belly sandwich have I so feared a fast food product. There’s no way Subway can do justice to that sandwich. It’s like Burger King offering ramen. It ain’t right.
Seahawks at Packers: Oh oh oh! Time for a stroll down memory lane…
Never gets old. In 2016, the memory of this kick is basically all I have going for me. And Mike McCarthy is still employed! Isn’t that amazing? Imagine being in charge of the Packers and watching that game and not immediately firing McCarthy into the sun. I imagine Green Bay as a cursed hamlet where the evil fairy Maleficient has put everyone into an eternal death sleep.
Broncos at Titans: I have an ingenious idea for the NFL. What if… we let players wear whatever cleats they wanted EVERY week? I know that sounds pretty wild, but hear me out. We let players wear cool shoes every week, and everyone likes it, and the fucking world doesn’t end. God, the NFL has to make everything so fucking hard, don’t they? Leave it to Roger Goodell to make footwear a whole ordeal. I’ve planned weddings with less hassle. Let them wear cool shoes, you fucking morons. And the worst part was the media going along with it! “What a cool idea!” No, a cool idea would be to NOT have a league where shoes are policed like a POW camp for 16 out of 17 weeks.
Steelers at Bills: Up until a judge handed him an extra $5 million last week, I had no idea that Mike McQueary still lived in State College after the Penn State fiasco.
He has not been able to find a job, either in the coaching field or even entry-level retail positions.
Well, no shit! You’re still in State College! LEAVE. I know McQueary grew up there and it’s hard to move, but holy shit, man. Get out and see the world. State College is nice but it’s not THAT nice. It’s also filled with lunatic truthers who will burn your car if you mention the Pitt loss. I can name 10 places off the top of my head that are nicer and are not filled with deranged corn people. Like La Jolla! That’s nicer. There you go. Get the fuck out of Pennsylvania, Mike. You’ve done enough standing around for this lifetime and the next.
Bengals at Browns: I only have this game this high because it’s really the last chance for the Browns to avoid 0-16. They’re not winning any of those other games left on the schedule. If they can’t handle a ravaged Cincy offense and Vontaze Burfict gifting them 45 free yards, it’s all over.
Also, before this season, I bet our Barry Petchesky $5 that RG3 wouldn’t start Week 1 for Cleveland. I lost that bet and then RG3 immediately tore six metatorsal lungflaps on a single play. Now he’s back just when I’ve bet Barry $10 that the Browns will go winless. I swear to fucking God, if he costs me money just before getting hurt AGAIN, I’m gonna break whatever is left of him that isn’t already broken.
Saints at Bucs: Of course the Bucs are red hot now. The Ascendancy Of Jameis Winston is the football story we deserve in 2016. I was much happier when he was fumbling like a moron.
Texans at Colts: God, the Colts are gonna win this stupid division, aren’t they? How many times has this organization been let off the hook because they play in AFC South? It’s like they get a Free Division Title coupon in the mail every July. I hate this fucking division. It should be contracted and all of its coaches should be thrown into a hole.
Chargers at Panthers
Vikings at Jaguars
Falcons at Rams
Skins at Eagles
Cardinals at Dolphins
Jets at Niners: I went to the hospital a couple weeks ago (I’m fine) and they had to take my blood, so they stuck a tube in my arm and taped it there. Then, when I went to get discharged, I asked the doctor at the station if I could take off the tape. And I don’t think she was paying very close attention, because she said, “Sure,” which is very much NOT hospital protocol. So I ripped the tape off and pulled the tube out. Guess what happens when you yank a tube out of a plugged vein? I’m telling you, there was a fucking GEYSER of blood rocketing out of my arm. It went everywhere. If there had been other patients around, I would have given them every disease lying dormant in my system.
Both the doctor and I tried to play it off like it was no big deal. I kinda laughed sheepishly, and she said “Oops!” and called maintenance to help clean it up. Meanwhile I’m spurting out hot plasma like I’m Julia Child in that old SNL skit. They still let me go shortly thereafter, though. I had steak for dinner.
By the way, the technician told me I had nice, big veins. Now I’m super proud of my enormous, John Holmes veins. People should pay money to see my hot throbbing veins.
Bears at Lions
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“March of the Crabs,” by Anvil! From Doug:
I just ate enough sushi to put a whale into a food coma (I have something of a sushi ‘problem’) and put this on the drive back to work. Instead of passing out at my desk, I felt the insatiable urge to start a pit in my cube farm.
Goddamn right. And God bless Anvil for making this song instrumental. Nothing ruins a good metal song faster than a bad singer flying in to interrupt all of the sweet riffage.
By the way, if you’ve never seen Anvil! The Story Of Anvil, get on it. It’s a masterpiece. The title tells you everything you need to know.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
We already goofed on this year’s Williams-Sonoma catalog, but plenty of readers have alerted me to the fact that, on an annual basis, the Restoration Hardware catalog is a far more insane enterprise. And they’re right. It’s bigger, more pretentious, more expensive, and has way more useless crap. This year’s RH catalog came with a note from CEO Gary Friedman, along with his photo:
Not only does Friedman look like a middle-aged guy trolling for pussy at Coachella, but he also writes exactly the way you’d expect the CEO of Restoration Hardware to write.
IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING. – Muhammad Ali
Okay, but you make furniture.
Activist, artist, antagonist. Philosopher, poet, promoter. Vietnam War adversary. Civil rights advocate. African-American fighter. Muslim man of peace. Olympic gold medalist. Three-time heavyweight champion of the world.
Yes, thank you for giving me Ali’s Twitter bio if he had ever had one. “Husband. Father. Sometime pugilist. I box things.”
Nothing was impossible for Muhammad Ali…
…especially when it came to shopping for $5000 reclaimed Russian oak poster beds. Lie down in one and you will truly float like a butterfly, as Ali intended.
In a world where we are taught to conform from the day we are born, Muhammad Ali defied conventional wisdom and challenged the status quo.
The Greatest NEVER would have settled for ordinary rattan patio furnishings.
He illuminated a path of innovation and change, acceptance and understanding, hope and justice around the world.
And so we shall do the same, only with floor lamps.
We are inspired by the life and legacy of the man referred to as “The Greatest,” and embrace his words that “Impossible is Nothing.” As a publicly traded company, you’re often rewarded for duplication and punished for innovation, decisions that require some level of short-term pain for long-term gain. We’ve taken our share of punches this past year for standing up for those things we believe in, decisions that will elevate our brand and inspire our customers for years to come.
I’m fucking dying. You make furniture, asshole.
We are creating some of the most innovative and immersive retail experiences in our industry…
“OMG this retail experience is so immersive! It’s like I’m in a REAL furniture store! Whoa, that salesman looks like he’s coming right at me! Wow.”
…witness RH Chicago, The Gallery at the Historic Three Arts Club
Witness it. BEHOLD IT. Drink from its treasures.
(see the article “My Kind of Town” on page 658 of our Interiors Source Book)
…a five-story, century-old building we reimagined and restored that blurs the lines between residential and retail, indoors and outdoors, home and hospitality, integrating a restaurant, wine vault, pantry and coffee bar …
It’s an apartment but also a hamper but ALSO a garden.
…by famed Chicago restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff.
AHAHAHAHAHAHA Sodikoff. Hey what happens when Brendan uses meat slicer too quickly? HE SODIKOFF.
We continue our quest to unite and integrate the ideas of the most forward-thinking people in our industry. The many designers, artisans, architects and manufacturers highlighted throughout the pages of our new Fall Source Books who, like Ali, have challenged conventional wisdom, breaking down stylistic barriers and contributing to an evolving conversation of a new and inspiring way to live.
No, they haven’t. They have not challenged conventional wisdom. They make fancy shit for yuppies, then change that fancy shit the next year so that yuppies buy it again when they get bored with their old furniture and enjoy having bad credit. Fucking Ivanka Trump has more in common with Ali than you people.
Thank you, Muhammad, for fighting.
Thank you for showing us what is possible when we stand up for what we believe in.
YOU MAKE FURNITURE.
That’s how he signs it! Swear to God. I want a $60,000 stone coffee table to land on this man’s foot.
Curt Schilling’s Facebook Lock Of The Week: Cardinals (+2)
Schilling 2016 record: 6-6-1
Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
Michael Thomas, who is exactly as reliable as every other Saints receiver who has played with Drew Brees ever. Sometimes they catch three touchdowns. Sometimes Brees throws to everyone BUT them, and they wind up with 42 piddly shit yards. God forbid he establish a firm rapport with one of these assholes. Get your shit together, Brees. Lock in on one wideout and throw to him all the time, for ME.
Fire This Asshole!
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we’ll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year’s end or sooner. And now, your potential 2016 chopping block:
(*-potential midseason firing)
I didn’t really think Ron Rivera was in any danger of getting canned by the Panthers UNTIL Tieghazi happened. Now he’s legitimately discredited. Why the fuck didn’t he just fine Cam Newton? Didn’t he realize that’s a proper way to punish him without subjecting the rest of the team to a Horse Balls insta-pick?
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Kenneth sends in this story I call BUTT DURHAM:
So back in high school I was staying the night over at my friend’s house. Shortly after returning to his house after eating at a buffet style pizza joint, the bubble gut hit me hard and I took a break from our video games to unleash holy hell in his toilet.
After the deed was done, of course the toilet wouldn’t flush and of course there wasn’t a plunger anywhere to be found. My friend had no idea where they kept a plunger, so I had to take the walk of shame downstairs to his dad to ask him for a plunger. The dad said that they didn’t have a plunger (who the fuck doesn’t have a plunger?).
At this point, we decide to walk across the street to my other friend’s house and ask his dad for a plunger. During all of this, my shame had built up to a point where I didn’t want to admit that we needed this because of my massive shit, so I decide to tell the other friend’s dad that we need a plunger because we wanted to play a cool new game called plunger baseball.
After getting a plunger, we proceed to swing at a few pitches in the cul-de-sac before realizing this is the dumbest fucking thing ever and I go and unclog the toilet. From then on, “going to play plunger baseball” was our go-to euphemism for taking a big shit.
Gametime Snack of the Week
Queso dip! Oh, queso dip. Oh, how you complete me. When they put chorizo in it, I get visibly erect. If you are short on cash, there’s no better value meal than hitting up a Mexican joint, ordering a big fucking thing of queso for a few bucks, and then eating five baskets of chips with it. It’s one of the best cheap meals in the universe. I’m gonna go fill the bathtub with queso right now.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Mandalay! From the exotic land of Myanmar! James explains:
On vacation here in Mandalay I grew tired of drinking the same two beers that are sold everywhere - Myanamar Beer and Dagon Lager. I was delighted to find a new brew in Mandalay Lager Beer. 130 years of brewing, so they must be good right? My first clue this might not be the case was when our guide grimaced as I pulled this out of the bag of beers he told us to bring on our sunset boat trip.
“You bought Mandalay Beer? I do not like this beer.”
“Is it not good?”
“It is Myanmar’s cheapest beer. Also the worst.”
I apprehensively took my first swig and the guide was not lying. Despite the bottle still being cold, the beer somehow tasted warm and sweaty. It was stale and sour and became a real slog to get through. The guide began encouraging me to simply throw it away as we had plenty of other beers, but I insisted on getting my 50 cents’ worth of value. Weirdly, towards the end, perhaps as I became a little buzzed, it became much more tolerable. Needless to say though, I’ll be sticking to Myanmar Beer from now on.
It’s possible that beer was bottled directly from the mysterious brown lake behind James in that photo. Regardless, I will drink ANY foreign beer that comes in an oversized container. I MUST HAVE IT AND THEN SHIT MY BRAINS OUT.
Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“People have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas stockings. They buy these fancy big stockings, okay? But you can’t wear them. Well, what’s the point of that? A stocking should be a stocking. Big Louann out of Texarkana has a whole shopping cart full of them, only lightly stained. You can fit a lot of presents in there, plus some other stuff, too. One time I made it all the way to Spokane with just ONE of her stockings filled with water bottles, matches, potatoes, other small stockings, a bag of gravy, and my old cat Reggie. That’s a good stocking. Some stocking with a picture of Mickey Mouse on it ain’t gonna do that for you.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans
Anvil! The Story Of Anvil! Again, if you have not seen this, do so or I will brain you with a flying V.
Gratuitous Miller’s Crossing Quote
“Tell Leo he’s not God on the throne, he’s just a cheap political boss with more hair tonic than brains.”
Enjoy the games, everyone.