I Thank the PAC-12 Network

The water went out in our house a couple of weeks back, and my first thought was, “Welcome to East Porterville.” This was particularly galling because just the night before I could hear, through an open living room window, the reassuring susurration of the citrus irrigation. It’s a sound that says, “All is well with your well.” At least so far.

Alas, it was not. Unbeknownst to us, some frayed wires at the well head had finally failed, causing depressurization of the entire system. I discovered this–a la Murphy’s Law–in the shower, fully lathered.

Just my luck.

I wiped the shampoo from my eyes and, clutching a towel around my midriff, staggered throughout the house in search of water. We were, literally, tapped out; there was not so much as a drop, either, from any outside hose. This was problematic–as I had layout (of this paper) in 40 minute’s time–but the solution, mercifully, was obvious: the pool. After all, I had done it before, comfortably, in Cabo. In fact, had the water not so frequently failed there it might never have occurred to me to avail myself of the pool here. I changed the towel for some trunks and plunged in. The water, of course, was freezing.

It’s just this sort thing–the shower having gone out when it did–that prevents me from gambling. I’m not even tempted. Gambling supposes risk and, in my case at least, there is none. I know I’ll lose. It’s just my luck–or lack thereof. Having said that, there was the time in Reno, in 1989, when, passing a roulette table, I was suddenly overcome by the notion of placing $100 on number 16. In a word, my wife said, “No.” But she did agree to pause long enough to watch the spin. We would have won $3500.

That was the only time I’ve ever had the feeling that something positive would happen; usually, I’m positive something negative will.

This is why my wife says I’m the worst person to watch Bears football with. Not the Chicago Bears–the Golden Bears, as in the University of California. That’s where we met. But I’ve been following them since 1968, and 47 years of heartbreak and futility have certainly taught me pessimism.

So I know better than to bet on the Bears–they’ll lose, or else not beat the spread. I also, for similar reasons, don’t bet against them. It’s all I can do to watch, and sometimes I can’t even manage that–as if watching itself were bad juju, and the team’s fortunes would improve if I refrained.

For some time now, ridiculously, this minuet of my being a Bears fan has seemed personal and spooky.

Between 1968 and 2014, the Bears posted a record of 252-278-7. I have seen things I didn’t think were possible on a football field–not good things–and I’ve seen them repeated. To be fair, though, I did witness The Play. But that’s like saying, “We’ll always have Paris.”

Here’s the thing: The last time the Bears were in a Rose Bowl was on January 1, 1959. That’s before I was born. And the last time the Bears won a Rose Bowl was on January 1, 1938–which is before my parents were born.

Forget winning it: I’m convinced that in my lifetime–sigh–the Bears will never be Rosy again. Why? In 1968–my first year as a fan–the Bears’ conference, having morphed from the PCC (Pacific Coast Conference) to the AAWU (Athletic Association of Western Universities) declared itself to be the Pac-8. We never won the Pac-8. In 1978 the two major Arizona schools were added and–Abracadabra!–we had the Pac-10. We never won the Pac-10. And in 2011 Utah and Colorado joined, engendering–you guessed it–the Pac-12. In my lifetime, then, the conference has grown by half–but our chances haven’t. We weren’t even competitive against seven teams.

It’s like being deeply in love with a beautiful woman who can’t keep herself from breaking your heart. And in this instance absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It just makes sense. It’s the best medicine.

So far this year the Bears are 4-0, and I have only been able to watch one game, on ABC–which we won when Texas, inexplicably, missed a last-second extra point.

I am, therefore, not in the least looking askance at the creation of the Pac-12 Network or its failure to reach an agreement with DirectTV to air the Bears’, or other conference games. I welcome it. In fact, I thank the Pac-12 Network.

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