Wednesday night I was in bed reading when the world exploded – well, at least that's what it sounded like for a minute. It was a nice evening and I had the windows open – suddenly I hear screaming, horns honking, people yelling all up and down the street. Firecrackers started going off. The honking/screaming/engine revving increased and increased. What the heck!?! I thought we already did graduation. Then it dawned on me, the Bruins must have won the Stanley Cup. That's the only thing that would explain it. I put my book down, leaned back, and just listened to the cacophony of joy in the streets of Gloucester. Fan-dom is a beautiful thing.
Earlier in the day I was driving by Espresso's Restaurant in East Gloucester when I noticed huge bouquets of black and yellow balloons tied to the railings in front. Naturally, my first thought was “Wow, Steelers fans live here” but then I realized that they were gearing up for a Bruins party. Hey, I'm all in favor – blackandyellowblackandyellowblackandyellow... Go Bruins! And they did.
There's something so charming to me about fan-dom. I've been a Steelers fan all my life so, of course, I know how fan-atical (pun intended) fans can be. This year, for the first time ever, I watched Dancing With The Stars just out of love for Hines Ward. He dazzled me with his dancing – I already knew about his charm – but what dazzled me even more was the fans. Every week I sat here watching the audience fill up with more and more Terrible Towels being twirled and thought, “What on earth do the people who have never seen a Steelers game think about all this?” But they are Steelers fans, see? Even the old pros, Jerome Bettis and Franco Harris and Lynn Swann and Mel Blount, showed up to support their guy, Terrible Towels in hand, twirling away.
What is it that makes us get so emotionally involved with sports teams, musical groups, performers of all sorts, television programs, etc.? I have friends who wouldn't walk across the street to meet the Queen of England but who will drive 500 miles to see Bruce Springsteen for the 163rd time. (Actually, I have a sister like that, though I bet she would actually go have a look at the Queen.) I think it has something to do with feeling a part of something bigger and more interesting than ourselves. And no small amount of love, too.
You can't really rule out that love factor. It's a healthy kind of love – affection, appreciation, warmth and joy in accomplishment. It would be nice if we could nurture those feelings and offer them to the rest of our lives. Life can be tough and filled with disappointments at times but when your team wins, or your guy sings, or your star dances, all of a sudden all those warm, sweet, joyful feelings come to the surface and something in us that is really, really good bubbles up and reminds us that we're okay and part of something nice.
I've been reading the comments posted by people on the YouTube videos of Hines Ward dancing and some of them are so touching to me. One person wrote, “I've watched this video a hundred times and I still cry every time.” What makes someone do that? I don't know except I do it too. There is something in me that hungers for that sweetness and emotion. It's a quick shot of feeling on a hectic day.
This morning Troy Polamalu posted this picture on his Facebook page. That's Troy, Brett Keisel and Hines Ward. Just looking at that picture warmed my heart – how can any Steelers fan not love those faces?
I'm just another hopeless fan. Blackandyellowblackandyellowblackandyellow...
Thanks for reading.