That is the question.
With the NFL season just around the corner, I'm sitting on the fence - Do I rejoin the football pool, play Proline, both, one or the other, neither? Last year was the first year I joined a pool. I was excited, full of hope. Then found myself on the edge of the couch, fingernails in mouth, desperate to cover the spreads - to win the weekly pool. All in all I discovered it took the pure joy out of watching the games. Week after week, I stressed over the spreads, studied US Today's Friday NFL pages, the weeks I went the other route and simply went with my gut, still I came up short. One week I tied with some guy and we split the winnings. It was not satisfying. I joined a pool to alleviate my previous year's obsession with Proline. Thinking that it would still satisfy a need to compete and be able to really get involved in the season more so than just being a passive yet passionate observer. Proline just about killed me. I'm no stranger to obssessive behavior - it's the highs and lows that feed my craft. However what I discovered about Proline was that the thrill was never realized, no matter how knowledgable I became and I rarely enjoyed the weekend games because I was too concerned with my picks, never letting the little slips of paper out of my sweaty, trembling hands. One Sunday I had to attend a christening. I didn't want to go. Shoved past the burly guys in the Seven-Eleven to grab my pencil and spreads sheet, ignoring their scrutinizing stares and attempts to peek at what I was scribbling down. I arrived late to the christening and during the reception that followed I kept leaving and coming back a little more agitated than the previous time I disappeared. A concerned relative approached with a glass of wine and asked if I was okay. I nodded, grabbed the wine. She leaned close to me and asked if I had taken up smoking. Smoking, I said, God know. And I asked her why. She stepped away from me. Well, you keep on leaving, she said, anxiously, like a smoker. Like a smoker, she said, or worse. Worse, I thought. Downed my wine, then choked, choked because it hit me and the laughter rose up from my gut before I had a chance to swallow the wine and I slapped my knee then her back and she started laughing without knowing why. I'd been leaving to run to the radio in my car to check the football scores, my Proline ticket. I never told her the truth, it may have seemed like the something worse.
This year, I think I'm going straight, no betting. It'll kill me, but I want to get back to observing the purity of what's unfolding on the field. I want to be unaffected by what I think and allow the outcomes not to bring me down. This year I don't want to start my week, which is always Tuesday this time of year, feeling like a loser. Because there's nothing worse than having 9 out of 12 teams correct on a ticket, or lose the weekly pool by 1 to a dame that doesn't even like the sport. This way I can concentrate on the Colts, the progress of other team's new coaches, players, revel in the unpredictable nature of the game, drink my beer and relax.
Next year, I might befriend a psychic.