The End of Life as We Know It

I’m seeing a girl who has a phobia of fajitas, doesn’t follow football, or listen much to music.

Not sure our connection. Most days, she doesn’t even have wine with breakfast.

Obviously, passion makes madmen of us all. Just ask Shakespeare. You think Romeo was of sound mind? Or Lady Macbeth? Didn’t she lure Macbeth to kill Duncan? (Honestly, it’s been so long).

Anyway, football is almost over and I am broken hearted over this annual curtain call. Sure, the Super Bowl is approaching, yet it can’t substitute for the rich autumn weeks when there were dozens of games, and we rallied around our TVs the way we used to rally around Cronkite.

Football is over. Time to catch up on the chores. February has no sheen, no allure. What a buzz kill, this month…what a debilitating, verklemptian funk.

When rotten change feels like it’s sweeping the world, when eggs are $12 a dozen, or mass migration stands to re-map society from here to the Balkans, when I can’t get a decent piece of veal at a fair market price, there was always football on which to warm our hands and hearts.

Football. So American. So wrong. So gritty. So great.

On the plus side: There are clear outcomes. First you get the ball, then they get the ball. Let’s go! Even the Supreme Court can’t mess that up.

There are no 45-minute innings and endless pitching changes. Unlike in the NBA, they play defense.

Seen an NBA game lately? Every player scores 50 points. I’m pretty sure I could play point guard for the Pistons right now. Long as I don’t have to run too much, or scramble after loose balls.

By the way, the Lakers are averaging $7 million per win (payroll divided by victories). Your local JV team shows more heart.

Now obviously, I have a completely synthetic imagination. My mind is my woodshop. My soul is made of Pyrex. I’m always a million dollars short of financial security.

I need to get out of my head sometimes, let it rest and cool, as you would a nice roast.

I mean, couldn’t you just eat the whole thing, as it sits there cooling on the counter, with its crunchy top of cracked pepper and bits of garlic?

That’s the way I feel about football. I want to eat the whole thing. Yum.

On the negative side: Football can be hugely damaging. Well, so is building a highway or a house.

When Damar Hamlin went down a few weeks ago, tragically died on the field, then ended up OK, thanks very much, there were all these doomsday predictions about the incident marking the end of the sport.

My alma mater, the occasionally-still-glorious L.A. Times, ran a piece on the editorial page claiming “football’s future has never looked more imperiled.”

OK, what have you been smoking down there by the airport? Honestly, intellectual audacity is fine, but now you just seem a little stoned.

Look, no one worries much about miners grinding their lives away in some cavern, or the roofers without any reasonable retirement options, these brutal life servitudes that probably make a career as an NFL running back seem very nice indeed.

Each year, football provides more rags-to-riches stories, creates more wealth, more millionaires, lifts more families out of poverty, than any other American sport.

Yeah, some day, I suppose, the moon won’t rise, the oceans will dry up, “The Simpsons” will end and Tom Cruise will let his hair go. But that day isn’t soon.

Football may well outlast America. In fact, it seems protected by some special constitutional amendment that honors valor, hard work, courage and skill.

I mean, what would Troy Aikman do for work?

In a world that demands so little and coddles so much, we have football. We have clear outcomes. We have war heroes. We have something everyone can rally around, with wings and  jalapeño poppers and that fiery chili Uncle Bob always brings. Does he sprinkle gunpowder in there or what?

By the way, I don’t know exactly why Suzanne is afraid of fajitas. Perhaps it’s the sizzle-smoke, that oily smog that is fajitas’ finest trait. It just speaks to me. Like Paul Newman’s blue eyes. Or Wynona Ryder’s half smile.

Or, the way a running back hurdles a linebacker, Baryshnikovs him at the very last second, in perhaps the most-glorious athletic move since Jackie Robinson used to steal home.

Bless their warrior hearts. Bless this brutal marvelous sport. If you don’t like it, fine. Enjoy your garden. Please save me some tomatoes.

Happy Super Bowl.

All systems go for today’s Happy Hour Hike. We were able to accommodate most everyone. If you RSVP’d and didn’t get info, please email For books or past columns, please go to

13 thoughts on “The End of Life as We Know It

  1. I am lukewarm about sports, especially football. But I felt the heat of your passion and you won me over with “verklemptian funk” and “Baryshnikovs him.” I can’t say why I always watch the Superbowl, but rarely watch any other games. It just feels like one of our few remaining national communal rituals that we all participate in together. Go Chiefs. Pass the poppers.

  2. Looks like Lady Cakes is ordering a little something at the bar! What is her beverage of choice, I wonder, and will Gramps move in on it to quench his own thirst?? So much to be revealed! Sorry about the funny-shaped ball, dude. It’s earned its rest.

    Glad to know Suzanne continues to navigate by her own stars. But really — how’s Smartacus?? Parents of Kids with Struggles want to know! And we know you’ll be kind… Better yet, hire him to write a guest column! Then we’ll get a straight story.

    PS: Offering your kid for sale is never a good sign. I gave my 44-yr-old manchild to the nuns who promised to pray for him constantly. It was clear I wasn’t gonna get a good price. . .

  3. Our first date was a Dodger game. After that being Orange County residents we converted to the Angels. As soon as fall arrived we began going to USC football games and had season tickets for 36 years first taking our son and his buddies and then our grandsons and their buddies. After we gave up our season tickets we watched college and pro ball on our tv. I lost my husband in February of 2022. It was difficult at times watching the games without him, but I did and many times caught myself asking him David did you see that bad call! Forty eight years together and forty seven years of football. I wouldn’t take anything for those glorious and heartbreaking seasons we shared. Thanks Chris for your usual great way of starting my Saturday morning!❤️🏈

  4. I’m with Suzanne. I knew Doug Buffone post football – he could barely move from the enduring pain. Silly boys and their football.

  5. I feel your pain Chris. I lament the passing of football season every year. After the Super Bowl (go Chiefs), I will be counting down the days until Spring practice at the college level, (go Trojans). And then before I know it, it’s Football Night in America. So much to look forward to. Oh Suzanne, fajitas are not to be feared, but enjoyed.

  6. Football will ALWAYS live in the hearts of men!!!! And thanks for the mini photo gallery – it’s proves again that you are human like the rest of us!!!

  7. Yesterday…

    Shortly after 2:30PM I slipped through the tall red doors of Chez Ventarron into the recently washed glare of a SoCal winter afternoon, heading downhill to the Lupine Hills Loop, a walk of encompassing vigor and yawning space. I was accompanied by the memory of two of my long gone ghost dogs: Lenka, a husky-shepard bristling feminist beauty with a paradoxical insistent affection for her traveling companion(moi); and Griffin(Gruff Griff), one of her offspring—a regal, watchful presence with a quiet mien inhreritdd from his equally relaxed sire. Only the presence of another male could break the spell…

    I live in the coastal hills, an area of 16 rises and 17 valleys, so
    It is said. Thus it was up and down and up for the next 100 minutes until I once again slipped through the tall red doors, hung the virtual leashes on the ghost pegs, and contemplated the dual reality of my walk and your simultaneous hike a mere 100 minutes to the north. Those red doo…Valentines Day lies ahead, and then perhaps an explosively early Spring; in paradise; and I further mused on how many others were out walking, their joyous motion urging on the bulging awakening waiting to come. Don’t you feel Spring straining at the leash, like the ghost dogs, barely under the restless Winter covers of a dream?

  8. Another great article allowing your readers new perspectives on sports and other matters. Go Chiefs.
    Don’t forget the most important day in February- VALENTINE’S DAY.

  9. After a first date at Mr Kelly’s, my future husband took me to my first baseball game . It was the White Sox against the Texas Rangers at Comiskey Park. I grew up in a Chicago Bears household, but I fell in love with baseball that day. We will be in California in September and we already have tickets for a Giants-Dodgers game in San Francisco.

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