Andy Wasif’s most-recent book “Red Sox Fans are From Mars, Yankees Fans are From Uranus” made the Boston Globe Bestseller List on April 22, 2012 for Nonfiction Paperback.
Andy Wasif’s most-recent book “Red Sox Fans are From Mars, Yankees Fans are From Uranus” made the Boston Globe Bestseller List on April 22, 2012 for Nonfiction Paperback.
As Fenway Park celebrates its 100th birthday, a day when the Boston Americans beat the Highlanders of New York by a score of 7-6 in eleven innings while scores of other people were being unceremoniously tossed off a cruise ship in frigid waters, we see that there is still a cold war between the two rivals.
Though the past few years have been rather innocuous, New York City (a city with a fanbase that routinely goes on Red Sox fan sites to criticize Boston backers about caring so much about what New York is doing, while at the same time, explaining how they don’t give Boston a second thought) has sunk to a new low. (Ironic because Boston is the city that’s built on landfill.)
A controversial New York subway ad tells Big Apple commuters not to give up their seats to a Red Sox fan, even if she is pregnant.
This seems a waste of some good money, the need to recommend this behavior. You’re talking about a fan base with members who, twice in the past decade, have literally killed Boston fans. Believe me, pregnant Boston fans are grateful when your greatest crime is simply not getting up on a crowded train.
In fact, we’re taught to be wary any time a Yankees fan makes a sudden movement, such as standing on a crowded subway. So don’t worry, the edict itself isn’t what’s so disturbing. It’s the fact that this ad is an act of blatant fanism!
That’s right, fanism! Who would’ve thought that in an age where we have a White Sox fan in the White House that we could still be subjected to this type of treatment. All fans should be created equal. Yes, I’m a Boston fan, but if you prick me, do I not bleed? If you feed me, do I not burp and undo my belt? If you tickle me, do I not laugh and then very quickly summon a policeman because, seriously, we’re grown men, why are you tickling me?!
It all begins with Rosa from Hyde Park, in her third trimester, being forced to stand on the subway until she can’t take it anymore and edges into a seat just ahead of a Yankees fan, thus earning her a citation for refusing to relinquish her seat to a non-pregnant Yankee fan.
Where does it end? First, you don’t stand for a pregnant Red Sox fan, then you don’t allow Red Sox fans to use cabs, celebrate the Macy’s Day parade, buy M&Ms at the giant M&M store in Times Square. (That place is like a playground for me! Please, God, no!)
I know there are some New Yorkers out there who will risk alienation to do the right thing and let the pregnant Red Sox fans have a seat, societal customs be damned! But this is about the authority behind the ad.
Yes, we’ve all heard the anecdotes about how Yankees fans refuse service to someone wearing a Red Sox hat in a coffee shop. Or the deli worker who skips the number of the guy wearing the Jeter jersey. These are individual acts and isolated. But for an edict to be decreed by the MTA, this is too much.
You might be saying to yourself, Boston fans are just as bad as New York fans. In many ways, they are. They can get in your face, wreaking of peppers and onions, and fail to cover up all their bodily creases. But listen to what they say. . . when they’re not slurring:
Boston fans hate the Yankees, as in “Yankees Suck!.” Yankees fans hate Boston. They mean the entire city! “Boston Sucks” is what they scream.
Boston fans are arrested for climbing a pole or lighting a fire. New York fans are as well, plus, uh, y’know. . . there’s also the murder charges.
Boston fans take credit for the number of championships they’ve won in their lifetime. New Yorkers take credit for championships that were won before their grandparents were born.
(Have you ever had a six-year-old brag about the 27 World Championships his team has won and then blow cigarette smoke in your face? It’s not fun.)
C’mon, New York! It’s bad enough some people consider Boston to be a suburb of you.
Look at all Boston has done for you! First off, the Red Sox and former owner Harry Frazee gave you half of their team, including Babe Ruth in exchange for a bucket of chicken and some donuts, which in turn brought you your first few championships.
Lest we not forget what city’s residents selflessly traveled the 180 miles down route I-95 during the tragic times of 2011. You said you’d never forget. Well, that lasted just over 10 years. You certainly won’t be confused with elephants. (Although from a distance… maybe just try a light beer every so often.)
Let’s go back even further and remind you that if it wasn’t for the good people of Boston, we, as a nation, might be drinking tea and watching cricket at the merry ol’ ballgrounds. Some of those pregnant women to whom you want to give blisters gave birth to the revolutionaries that spawned this great nation; the same revolutionaries that fought for your freedom; the same freedom that allows you to decide whether or not to stand for pregnant women or not without consequence.
Show Boston that you’re leaning in the direction of right over wrong and don’t give them any more ammunition that proves their already deeply-stilted opinions of you. You’re the bigger city. Act like it!
I’ve met Yankees fans who don’t appreciate Boston fans and never will. And vice versa. That’s why they’re around, so that we, the more reasonable fans, can mock them openly on shows like “The Real Housewives of South Boston” or “So You Call that a Lougie?!” on cable access in the Bronx.
The rivalry ebbs and flows dating back before Fisk and Pinella got into it or, more recently, Varitek showed A-Rod the stitching in his glove. Steinbrenner 2.0 tried to pick up the slack when he took over, but the fans weren’t as interested. Nineteen games against each other every year put a simmer on things. But someday, the fire on the field will reignite, and those players will feel the same resentment as their forebears did. But then, they get paid a lot of money to participate in the fighting.
Let’s leave the pregnant ladies and other Boston fans out of it. Isn’t riding on the subway torture enough? Let them ride the No. 4 Train to the new Yankee Stadium, so that you may bilk them out of their hard-earned money with your ridiculous prices for beer and bag check.
It wasn’t long ago that we were all Yankees. And we battled the Confederates. I have a dream! That one day all Red Sox and Yankees fans can come together in peace and harmony. . . to gang up on Philly fans. Seriously, those folks don’t deserve a seat anywhere, pregnant or not!
So, are you feeling good? Have you studied your spread sheets, win charts, RPI graphs; consulted with your insiders, your psychics, your “rain men”; input your numbers into the supercomputer specifically designed to come within the smallest of percentages of you ever having a girlfriend?
In other words, have you filled out your NCAA bracket yet? The Madness doesn’t wait, you know. Part of the fun is processing the myriad information of match ups and potential meetings in only a few days before making what could become your greatest achievement or your most ignominious failure.
Originally meant for a fun diversion, these pools are now hugely popular and there’s billions of dollars at stake here (legally, of course). So each piece of information, regardless of how trivial, may mean something in your prognostication. Though most obscure facts have found their way into papers and onto the Internet, I have found a few that you may have missed. Feel free to incorporate this knowledge into your last-second entries. For instance, did you know:
Rick Pitino actually receives royalties every time John Calipari copies his shtick.
Missouri is the “Show Me State,” but be warned, they actually have a law that makes it illegal to show them.
No Jewish school has ever won the tournament. Sorry Davidson, Temple, and Murray State.
Lamar coach Pat Knight is a distant relative of legendary coach Bobby Knight… That is to say, he’s his son, but their relationship just isn’t very close.
St. Bonaventure’s nickname comes from its name (the Bonnies). St. Louis, on the other hand, did not go with the “Louies,” instead choosing the more obscure Billikens.
Norfolk, Long Beach, and Murray are not, in fact, states.
Famous Harvard Crimson basketball alumni include Jeremy Lin, and– uh… okay, come back to this one… (there’s gotta be someone else, right? The school’s like 500 years old.)
Duke University is the most hated college, athletically-speaking, in the Nation… and that’s before you even mention their lacrosse team.
It is written in Duke’s by-laws that they must not be ranked lower than a #3 seed and must play their opening round games in a state that borders North Carolina.
Duke and the University of North Carolina are located on Tobacco Road and therefore are not allowed inside any restaurant in New York City.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is the first coach with two z’s in his name to take his team to the tournament since Adolph “Red” Zazoo did his Fighting Lemurs in the 1940s.
Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun is a close, personal friend of mine. He just doesn’t know it.
Brigham Young is at-large. If seen, approach with caution.
The Florida Gators won back-to-back titles in 2006-2007. Their success prompted a brief national craze known as Noah-ing, where one would grow his hair into a big, poofy mess and act like a spaz.
Though the term “Cinderella team” refers to one who exceeds expectations, Cinderella herself never made it past the second round.
The Virginia Commonwealth Shockers were not named for their basketball abilities, but rather for their penchant of streaking on campus.
Crosby Stills Nash and Young actually has a national championship! (1950)… I’m sorry, that’s CCNY (City College of New York), not CSNY.
The term “bubble team” comes from the fact that “not-a-chance-in-hell-of-winning-the-title team” was too long.
No one actually knows where Iona University is. In that sense, it’s sort of like Area 51.
No #1 seed has ever lost to a #16 seed in the first round of the tournament.
Syracuse was the first #2 seed to lose to a #15 seed in the first round (ironically, a mere 24 hours after I accepted their offer to attend). This year, as a #1 seed playing a #16 seed, they look to make history again.
And with those little tidbits sprinkled into your brain matter, let the games begin! And may your pools be filled with the chlorine of good fortune and not urinated in by the bratty child that is elimination.
[Attached image by: Arvind Balaraman]
After several heart stoppages and two different televisions –do you think Best Buy will exchange a flat screen with a lamp through it? I still have the warranty. — the chance for redemption is ON. We all remember what happened the first time the New England Patriots and the New York Giants danced in “the Big Cotillion.” In fact, there are still many who wake up at night screaming, “HE’S IN THE GRASP!!!” as nightmares of Eli Manning’s desperation heave to David Tyree after defensive lineman Jarvis Green held onto the quarterback’s jersey for a full three-count continue to crop up.
It is now four years later and the Northeast monopolizes media coverage yet again. Welcome to Rex Ryan’s personal hell. His town’s successful team and his arch rival doing what he cannot do, at least not with Mark Sanchez under center.
There is a weird familiarity to this game, almost like we’ve seen it before. Flash back to 2007 — no, really. . . do it. Flash back! — The Giants squeak into the playoffs by the thinnest of Joe Flacco fu manchus and proceed to win three games on the road, including the championship game in overtime, in inclement weather, after an ill-fated turnover.
Meanwhile, the Patriots, though they made history by achieving the first-ever sixteen game perfect season, made the Super Bowl, but only after a controversial win (in Week 13) by three points against a Baltimore Ravens team. Sound familiar?
In that season, the Patriots beat the Giants during the regular season. This year, however, they didn’t, which bodes well if you’re looking for comparisons to the 2001 team which similarly lost to the Rams, then proceeded to run the table, including a Super Bowl win against those same Rams.
And in a season when Brady’s chief rival Peyton Manning was inactive, his brother Eli has risen like some sort of Phoenix. (A brilliant reference if ever I saw one as his first Super Bowl win was, in fact, in Arizona.) It’s like some weird sort of action movie sequel where the hero, having dispatched of the bad guy, finds that the bad guy had a brother who’s much more evil then his dead brother ever was. (Remember, you can’t spell “elite” without ELI.)
I understand that this redundant matchup has removed all interest for many of you — “When is Cleveland ever going to be in the championship?” — but for those of you who haven’t moved on to other sports like Texas Hold ‘em and the Scripps National Spelling Bee, you have myriad reasons to pick a team and get behind them, if only for one day.
Why Root for New England?
It’s not often you see greatness. No, greatness doesn’t come around as often as the attempt to make greatness a storyline does. From ownership down to the parking attendants at Gillette Stadium, the New England Patriots do things the right way. This includes Belichick and Brady who, when all is said and done, will be among the most accomplished of all time, if not the most accomplished. In short, they are the Egg Mcmuffin of football teams.
They’re playing for the owner’s late wife. Myra Kraft was kind, charitable, and admired throughout the organization. The Patriots are playing this season with her memory in mind. Nothing trumps a dedicated season, save for perhaps one in which the somehow handicapped guy, diminutive or otherwise, gets on the field/court and provides the game-winning score/basket.
They’re playing for history. Four Super Bowl wins for Brady would mean tying him for the most rings by a quarterback with Joe Monana and Terry Bradshaw. And Belichick would be tied with Chuck Noll. If Eli wins, that’s only two. Big whoop!
They’re playing for redemption. It’s a classic story where the defeated hero rises up again to vanquish his reviled antagonist, like “Rocky 2,” “Return of the Jedi,” or any of the “Police Academy” movies.
They also have a bunch of undrafted players, a rookie who is a non-Hodgkins lymphoma survivor, a wide receiver moonlights in the secondary, and Gronk! In short, they’re a good bunch of players to root for.
Why Root for New York?
John Mara is the owner of the Giants. His niece is Rooney Mara, the actress who was darned good in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” (I’ve never seen it, but I’ve heard good things.) By association, you gotta pull for the Maras.
You have a hatred of Peyton Manning. A victory for the Giants and subsequently for Eli will show the middle child that he is, in fact, the slow one and not his little sibling as we had previously thought. A win for Eli will provide retribution for all those wet willies, purple nurples, and wedgies Peyton, no doubt, gave him as a child. This winter, vote “Eli, for Best Manning Ever!”
According to Vegas, they are the underdog. Not sure what Vegas is up to on that one, but if your thing is pulling for the underdog (except in that movie “Underdog”), this is the team for you.
Now, on the flip side, for those of you disgusted by the false promise of league parity and the redundancy this matchup provides — well, you probably already have your reasons, but — here are a list of reasons to root against each team.
Why Hate New England?
There are lots of reasons. For one, they win a lot. Give somebody else a chance!
“The hoodie” himself. Not that you liked his brusque and secretive nature before, but the infamous Spygate scandal pushed your disgust of the man to a new level. He was the only coach to oversee videotaping of other teams, except of course, for any other teams that did it too but just didn’t get caught. As such, the New England Patriots and Bill Belicheat are the scourge of the league.
The New England fans are out of touch with the 99%. They are the Mitt Romney of fans. They don’t understand the hardship that other fans go through on a regular basis just trying to make it to the playoffs, let alone winning a game.
Why Hate New York?
Are you kidding? They’re New York! Do you really want those fans around you when they’re winning? (Or losing, actually. A lot of it is the smell.) If you thought New England fans were bad, you ain’t seen nothin’.
New York is going for their fourth Super Bowl win. It’s boring for a team to be so consistently good as they would have won in the 80s, the 90s, the oughts, and potentially again this decade.
Another Manning?! Really?! We thought we were rid of the Manning talk. Plus, poor Cooper will feel even worse if Eli ends up with two more rings than he has.
The Mara family. Sheesh, how much success do they need?
whether you root for them, against them, or don’t watch the game at all, it will be decided by the talent on the field.
Why New England will win
They don’t lose to teams twice in the same season, er. . . usually. (Forget about last year’s playoff loss to the Jets.)
The supernatural. After the victory in the AFC Championship game, Bob Kraft alluded to “forces at work beyond anything we can understand.” Did Sterling Moore really knock the ball out of Lee Evans’ hands? Did Billy Cundiff really shank the kick? Those of you non-believers can stick to that earthy mumbo-jumbo, but BK knows better. The Pats are “playing for the patch,” in memory of Myra Kraft. And Myra Kraft, in turn, is playing for the Pats.
Revenge is a great motivator. Tom Brady, though he’s cut his hair, may be compared to Uma Thurman in “Kill Bill.” And if New England does win, they will finally be given their 19-0 perfect season! (hm. . . wait, that can’t be right. . . can it?)
Why will New York will win
First of all, the fact is, the Giants are 3-0 in Super Bowls when Bill Belichick is on the sideline. Think about it. That bodes well for them.
But mainly, it’s science. A tough pass rush coupled with an aerial assault from three quick and strong receivers against a less-than-stellar secondary and there will be nothing the Patriots can do.
So what we have is Myra versus Mara, science versus the paranormal. As we all know, sports follows no sort of karmic law or spiritual puppetry . . . or does it? Save for Super Bowl XL featuring the Steelers and the Seahawks, the referees are not “in the bag” or blatantly incompetent, frequently making the correct call with the naked eye on plays we, the viewers, need freeze frame technology to barely venture a guess at the correct call. The Golden Rule applies to the Super Bowl and that is: “The better team on the field always wins. . . unless it is coached by Norv Turner.”
New York won the last Super meeting on a miracle pass and a helmet catch after a missed interception. Heck, they’ve already marched the field in the fourth quarter against the Patriots in homage to Super Bowl XLII earlier this year. Plus, all of Brady’s Super Bowls have been decided by three points. What about this tells you that the Giants won’t again win by three in the waning minutes? One thing’s for sure and that is the certainty that this game will not be any less exciting.
Mental note: Replenish my supply of EpiPens and smelling salt, charge my defibulator, and buy an extra tv.
Ho! Ho! Ho! No, it’s not Herman Cain addressing yet another accusation from a mistress, but the commercialized call representative of the birthday of that most famous religious figure, that leader of men, that otherworldly phenomenon, Tim Te—er, I mean, Jesus Christ. (Sometimes I forget that Tim Tebow’s birthday is actually August 14th. My new year’s resolution is to get a petition to Congress to make that day a national holiday, I don’t care how many doors I need to knock on and how many hours I need to stand outside of malls.)
It’s Christmas time, and it’s the time for giving, a time for all of <i>fankind</i> to come together as one and treat each other with hospitality and friendship. For all the animosity you show to each other, this is a time to put bygones aside. In fact, let bygones be bygones; help them to grow up and live fruitful bygone lives, raising little bygones of their own, and then let those bygones be bygones, perhaps settling an organic bygone commune out in the woods somewhere.
Now is the time to allow for all our fellow fans, be he decked in silver and black, teal, or green and yellow with a hunk of cheese on his head; be his field green or blue; whether his horns be hooked or his tide rolled, he deserves something this holiday season and Santa (shhhh! It’s actually just a fat guy in a red suit and hat with a white beard) is here to give it to him.
Now, without further ado, let us reach inside the satchel and distribute the presents to these most deserving sports entities:
To Tony LaRussa – a phone that works and a peaceful retirement.
To the NBA – a new commissioner, six fewer teams, and plenty of Barkley and Shaq commentary.
To Dirk Nowitzki – singing lessons.
To Frank McCourt – a one-way ticket out of Los Angeles (it’s really for his own good as Dodgers fans can be quite aggressive.)
To Dodgers fans – a new owner, preferably one who is a step up.
To Jerry Sandusky – a trip from Penn State to the state pen.
To the Texas Rangers – a hearty “A” for effort.
To Nelson Cruz – a better jump on the ball.
To the 1986 Boston Red Sox – the long overdue opportunity to throw away the Buckner footage.
To @d_rovell (Darren Rovell) – a singing career.
To Dan Patrick – more movie appearances.
To Tim Tebow – a watch with the correct time to start “Tebowtime” 45 minutes earlier.
To opponents of the Broncos – a fourth quarter to go along with the three they currently play.
To Cleveland – something. . . ANYTHING.
To Lebron James – a book on magic to help with his disappearing act during the NBA Finals.
To Chicago Cubs fans – hope, if but for just an offseason.
To the “unnamed source” in sports reports – the courage to come forward with your name.
To the “player to be named later” – a name, preferably something cool, like Nnamdi Asomugha, or I hear “Ron Artest” is available.
To Chad Ochocinco – permission to tweet as much as you’d like.
To Ndamakoung Suh – an offseason job as the glass breaker at Jewish weddings.
Jim Schwartz – dinner with Jim Harbaugh.
Jim Harbaugh – the chance to stand Jim Schwartz up at dinner.
To Brett Favre – another chance. . . to throw an ill-advised game-losing interception.
To Vince Young – a different dream.
To the late, great Al Davis – a team in heaven.
To Peyton Manning – a new neck.
Andrew Luck – a good real estate agent in Indianapolis.
Eli Manning – finally a seat at the head of the table at family gatherings
To Brigham Young University – consensual relations during basketball season.
Mark Cuban – an MLB franchise.
CC Sabathia – opt out clauses every year.
Los Angeles – a football team. . . for a few years before it leaves for somewhere else.
Manny Pacquiao – a fight with Floyd Mayweather.
Rex Ryan – a Bill Belichick dart board for his game room.
Donovan McNabb – a cushy studio job.
Tony Romo – a big game win.
Big East – a new name.
To the Bowl Championship Series – a little love. . . similar to the love Lennie shows a puppy in “Of Mice and Men.”
To Chris Paul – a string of championships with the Clippers.
To the Los Angeles Clippers – a larger share of the market (something tells me if they start to win, Lakers fans will jump on board).
To Albert Pujols – 254 million reasons why it’s not about the money.
And to Tito Francona – a more respectful, celebrated exit.
Finally, to all of you from all of me, I give to you another year of buzzer beaters, fantastic finishes, shocking upsets, gutsy performances, inspired efforts, and the thrill of victory without the agony of defeat. . . unless, of course, you’re playing Tim Tebow.
Dearest ninety-nine percent, GOP mistresses, remaining Mideast tyrants, and Demi Moore,
First off, I want to thank all those who texted me their well wishes after my freak shake weight accident. Your expressions of concern warmed the cockles of my heart. . . save for those of Anthony Weiner whose cockles are not welcomed on my phone ever again.
I enjoy this time of year when we can put the baggage of the past 12 months in a box, letting bygones be bygones so they may raise other bygones and those bygones can, in turn, become bygones of their own, potentially forming an organic bygone community in the woods somewhere. But in this moment of introspection, I cannot help but think of how this year was nothing short of a veritable feast of historical significance.
So much has changed – the world was all at once both topsy and turvy, seemingly rotating on a tilted axis like some sort of planetary body. Antioxidants, once the darling of health food circles, were now being unceremoniously dispersed through questionable crowd control tactics; free radicals now cost money, and the melodious aria cough was downgraded to barely a whoop. We experienced carmaggedon, witnessed solar flares (from which I was disappointed not to receive super powers), had the end of the world postponed another year, and for a brief time, I became a Leo, before realizing I wasn’t generous enough to qualify.
Where did the time go? It seemed the Arab spring segued right into the Paterno fall as quickly as a Kardashian marriage. I had no time to waste in grabbing life by its Florida peninsula. As a change to my health regiment, I began drinking tiger blood. That is, until developing a severe allergic reaction to it. But for that hour and a half, I was WINNING!
By the early summer, I’d come upon a fairly rigid obstacle to my proactive aspirations in the form of a vast financial deficit due to my ill-fated foray into the baklava sector of the commodities exchange. I was not to be deterred, however, thanks to the motivationals of Governor Rick Perry who said, “The three non-negotiable keys to achieving one’s happiness in life are hard work, perseverance, and I’ll get back to you on that third one.” Words to live by!
Mastercard was loathe to raise my debt ceiling (downgrading my credit rating to a C- to boot) upon my request forcing me to find more thrifty uses of my FRI (Farmville-related income). Together with my new iPhone, Siri, I took to streamlining my budget, but after a drawn out battle over whether or not to spend less or earn more, the artificial intelligence system locked me out, unable to use it anymore. Thus, I tightened my belt, restricting myself to the bare essentials such as food, rent, and the electric milk frother that I simply had to have. It was bad business not to buy it, lactose intolerance be damned!
One respite from the unequivocal economic exorbitance was a deal I found at Godfather’s pizza offering 9 toppings and 9 dipping sauces for just 9 bucks! And I could defer payment to my grandkids. The only downside was that they said it wasn’t my right to choose the toppings.
Despite such difficulties, I still managed to satiate my appetite for travel by working selflessly for causes such as helping the earthquake relief effort in New York City. The trip also gave me a chance to attend the infamous Occupy Walmart rally which was a powerful event that will stick with me like the pepper spray in my clothes, and a stop at Wall Street’s Zuccotti Park, home to the popular gourmet luncheon spot of the traders – “Quiche My Ass.” I had the Elitist Arugula Salad for just $59 with a Groupon.
Creatively, I found my Muse fervently aroused as I completed my first novel typed entirely using a banana to hit the keystrokes. I think the title speaks for itself – “Kjfoewwi6f.”
And as the waxings and wanings of the moon progressed rapidly, I nevertheless found time to learn a new vocation, officially becoming a fruit ninja. The test was not easy as you are required to hack honeydews, carve cantaloupes, gouge guavas, and joust juniper berries all with finite precision and dexterity to the reverence of bystanders at the Farmer’s Market. I feel the lifetime ban from the popular locale was well worth the citrus belt I earned.
Moving forward, I do not wish to let future opportunity pass me by, refusing to take for granted that which is within my reach. As such, I am excited to finally attend a taping of Oprah and Regis in 2012! It is with the same such enthusiasm that I say to you all, may the unmanned drone of prosperity rain unspeakable happiness and joy down upon your home.
[Featured image by: digitalart]
Thor stood at the bow of the massive vessel. He was tired. It had been months since he constructed the ship, years since he first dreamed of setting out to discover new territory, and almost a decade since he and Fjorgyn Karsefni had spoken after one sordid night he deemed to be true destiny and she chalked up to too much mead.
In one hundred days at sea, they’d lost two ships and countless men. Thor wondered if he’d ever see his family again. He longed for the simple life of pillaging and plundering he’d left behind (though he could never remember which was which).
Their only amusement was a chessboard brought on board by Thorfinn Sturluson. But the crew lost interest quickly when they realized Thorfinn cheated terribly. He would swear, “The horsie can move anywhere! If you don’t believe me, ask the Eastern Slavs.” But if there were any Eastern Slavs on board, they weren’t talking.
The men were destitute: want of spirit, want of affection, want of life. Their meager diet consisted of porridge, boiled fish, and crème de menthe brulee with wild berries and caramelized sugar garnished with a mint sprig. They could take no more.
As they rowed, the crew glared at Thor with contempt, a far cry from the trust and admiration they felt towards him when the journey began. But Thor was filled with resentment as well—mostly towards his longtime friend Thorvald Herjolfsson, who, in a moment of frustration, pushed Thor’s Runic monument to his father overboard saying it disrupted the energy of the boat. Thor retaliated by throwing Thorvald’s book on Feng Shui overboard. Petty as it was, neither man was going to present the other with an olive branch of peace. Thorvald had thrown that off two days earlier.
There was not much time left as the supply of grain was running low. Thor was not going to look at the endless horizon anymore. He lowered his head and prayed silently to the Gods.
In a moment one could only call divine intervention, a speck appeared on the horizon. Leif Thorrson cried, “Land!” but no one paid him any heed mainly because he had a bad habit of yelling “Land!” every hour, a habit that earned him the nickname, “The Timekeeper.” This time, however, it was land. All at once, the crew exploded in elation. But lest they suffer from premature celebration, each man returned his focus to reaching the shore. With the strength and power of a hundred ships, they stroked and stroked as the oak planks glided through the water. The tide lent a hand and propelled the boat onto the beach lurching the crew to the sand.
Standing slowly on dry land for the first time in months, they looked around, gazing in stunned silence at the natural beauty that lay in front of them: forests of willow and birch, magnificent fjords, rolling hills.
After what seemed an eternity, Thorvald approached Thor and handed him the flag. Thor accepted it as the two men shared a moment of unspoken reconciliation.
With a tear in his eye, he jabbed the stick into the sand. The crew cheered. Then, with his voice cracking both from pride and exhaustion, Thor spoke. “My friends,” he began, “it has been a long and arduous journey, but our labors have been rewarded. We started out mere boys, but ended up men who have made history. After a myriad of sunrises and sunsets, storms, the loss of our brothers at sea, we accomplished the impossible. Now we must get word to our families and neighbors that we’re alive and well and about to settle in a new world.” He sighed. “Everyone back in the boat.”
*excerpted from “Will Beg For Dignity” (OhSchnappa Publishing, 2001)