And They All Lived Happily Ever After
Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 02:00PM
Lovable Losers Literary Revue in Humor

By Donald G. Evans

We’re all glum, I know. Believe me, I know. It’s sad, frustrating, depressing, irritating. It’s unfair. Four days ago, we were planning parade routes; now we’re recruiting pallbearers.

Cheer up. This is just what we in the business call a “plot twist.” We’re making a Hollywood film here on the shores of Lake Michigan, and now that it’s nearing the end we need heightened tension. Drama. There must be tears of pain before there are tears of joy. I hope you understand.

We started filming in spring training. Wait: scratch that. We took some establishing shots last winter, outside Wrigley Field, during the season’s worst snowstorm. There were icicles hanging off the scoreboard—it was terrific! You see, that served as a metaphor for the long, cold, barren years here on the North Side, and introduced (or will introduce; we obviously aren’t done yet) viewers to the theme: 100 years of losing!

That’s right. Just one week from today, Oct. 14, marks the 100th anniversary of the Chicago Cubs last championship. Only the film is not about losing; it’s about winning. Well, it’s about both, actually, but ultimately what I’m saying here is that 2008 is about winning. That’s what you need to remember. I mean, what could be more perfect? Here we are, 100 years almost to the day since the last championship, and we’ve got this team that will release all the suffering with a big, bright, glorious championship.

So in spring training we took footage of new Chicago icon Kosuke Fukudome. Everybody loves him! You could film him just chewing bubble gum and it’s dramatic, you know what I mean? We also got footage of new guys like Reed Johnson and Jeff Samardzija, and the mood in these scenes is uncomfortable, sort of like, “Wooh, we don’t know you, you don’t know us, let’s take this slow,” but guess what? Everybody loves them, too! You’re going to adore the shot of Reed getting up off the warning track with his hat flipped and the ball in his mitt.

We also got footage of young players, like Geovany Soto getting ready for his first full big league season. He’s putting on his shin guards and he looks up into the Arizona sun, like, “Yes, I’ve finally made it!” Everybody loves Geo! We got footage of benchwarmers like Mike Fontenot and Daryle Ward and Henry Blanco swinging weighted bats and laughing in the dugout and other things that aren’t necessarily playing. Everybody loves Little Fontenot!

Oh, oh, oh, we also got Mark DeRosa on the stretcher after he had that heart problem thing. Everybody loves D. Ro! And we actually got Ryan Dempster saying the words, “I think we are going to win the World Series. I really do.” We got that! Everybody loves Demp!

Then, of course, we got good footage of the returning heroes, like Carlos Zambrano, Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez. We got a great close-up of D. Lee’s face, and maybe it’s the light or maybe it’s that he just fouled a pitch off his right instep, but you can see the pain of the 100 years there. Everybody loves D. Lee! We also got a close-up on Alfonso Soriano’s face, and there you see determination, like, “THIS IS THE YEAR!” More stuff like that.

We tracked the whole regular season, too. We recorded everything! We got Kerry Wood recording out after out as the new closer. We got Jim Edmonds making a diving catch. We got Rich Harden throwing heat. Everybody loves ALL these guys!

We got the totally amazing comeback against the Rockies. We got the big sweep at home against the White Sox, including A-Ram’s walkoff homer. We got Big Z’s no-hitter. We got Soto’s two-out, three-run home run.

We got players jumping up and down for a hundred different reasons!!!

We got the clinching celebration all throughout Wrigleville. We got the big rally at the Daley Plaza. We got all kinds of celebrities, as well as Tom Dreesen, predicting a Cubs championship.

So what I’m saying is, we’ve got a lot of the happy stuff. Too much, maybe. The whole season, give or take a few weeks, has been happy footage.

Enter the playoffs. Enter the plot twist.

Strikeouts on bad pitches; ground balls off mitts; walks to pitchers. Grand slams sailing over our heads. We got this great shot of Dempster wiping his forehead, and he has a look on his face like, “Oh, my God! This championship drought thing is no fluke!!” And then we’ve got this one of D. Ro looking at his mitt like maybe there is such a thing as curses.

All great footage. Remember, the elation you’ll feel at the end, it has to be earned. All those things you’re feeling now—sadness, frustration, depression, irritation, outrage—you’re supposed to be feeling that. It’s been a hundred years, and 2008 can’t be that easy. It’s got to be a struggle.

Do you think at the end of my movie I’m going to post To Be Continued? I’d get groaned out of the theatre. No, it’s going to say, The End!

Don’t cry. Don’t despair. Hollwood stories have happy endings. Feel good stories feel good.

Think Cinderella, Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music. Think It’s A Wonderful Life. The slipper has to fit; Dorothy has to find a way home; the Captain and Maria have to admit their love for each other. George Bailey has got to be rescued from his Building and Loan scandal.

This thing doesn’t work if Cinderella misses curfew; if Dorothy veers off the Yellow Brick Road; if the Captain marries Elsa. If George offs himself.

So, come on! Do you think we’re going to let the Cubs get clubbed a third straight game? What kind of ending would that be? You can kill Bambi’s mother or have Old Yeller die and still make a sweet movie, but we don’t want to deal with all those tears.

The whole, “Wait Till Next Year” thing’s been done.

Donald G. Evans, author of Wrigleyville sports gambling novel Good Money After Bad, is the Lovable Losers emcee. His stories have appeared in StoryQuarterly, Pinyon Review, The Journal and Narrative Magazine, among others, and he will soon have a story appearing in the Xavier Review.

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