Talking Into My Pad Thai About Love (A Season Preview)

October 30th, 2012 by Colin McGowan

You only see this operation from one side, but the inner WordPress machinery of Cavs: The Blog is clogged with abandoned drafts of things I meant to say about this team before the season started. Most of it is manufactured joke fiction and comparisons of Alonzo Gee’s game to various Young Jeezy records (short version: it’s something like Trap or Die II). You’re not missing much, but if I were less fearful of scorn, I would publish my aborted work in this space as a sort of written performance piece—half-finished with multiple drafts of paragraphs jammed against one another—because it would illustrate more accurately than I am capable in coherent form the absurdity of trying to write interesting stuff about a Cavalier team that hasn’t yet played a meaningful game.

Not that the team itself is absurd. It radiates the heat of a storebought bread loaf left for a few hours in a sunny windowsill. Kevin’s prediction of 33 wins sounds right to my ears, though I haven’t given it much thought. “33” seems like a good enough number. I think former New York Giants running back Ron Dayne wore number 33 when he was at Wisconsin. Surfer Rosa is 33 minutes long. You can treat one of those like an omen if you want. The Cavaliers’ win total will gain relevance as it becomes apparent whether the team is jockeying for a playoff spot or (more likely) additional ping pong balls. Numbers at this juncture run through me like the final scene of Audition with all the titillation sucked out. Just long, slow violence.

What I really want to talk about is that I have a friend who’s an MP in El Paso, and he’s getting shipped off to Afghanistan soon. We’re meeting up in our hometown in a few days, and I don’t know what I’m going to say to him. He already knows that I love him, though that will be said aloud a few times, probably slurred and tearful as the sun rises. I honestly don’t think he’s going to die—I’m prepared, but not anticipant—so there will be no premature mourning. I think we’re just going to let our fear rattle around and ping pong off each other for a few days, then bear hug and go back to our corners of the world. We’ll probably talk about Future, girls he’s trying to sleep with, and whatever TV I’ve been watching. In this way, we will talk about ourselves and the emotional sinew between us.

I got really drunk last night; most of what you’re reading was written in the thrall of enough Schlitz that I found my keys in an empty pad thai tray this morning. I’m sifting through the flotsam trying to make an article out of it because it felt important when I wrote it. There are a lot of tangents in this mess, but they’re not really tangents. I know I put them here, in this WordPress doc, because I find them relevant to basketball, or I find basketball relevant to them. Fragments of what I wrote last night will be incorporated into various things I write this season.

I don’t know if this is a writerly impulse or if lots of people do this, but I constantly strain to connect people, things, and moments to other things, people, and moments. It’s a byzantine ant colony that I’m trying to construct in my head and occasionally carve sections of into the internet’s cold back. I want it to mean something, though I’m not finicky about the way other people interpret it.

I think I’m conflating the Cavs’ upcoming season and my friend’s imminent departure for a wartorn country because they’re both encircled by a lot of impenetrable, wordless space. I don’t have an elaborate conceptual framework that links the two; they just happen to be haunting me at the same time. One talks to the other like a lightbulb talks to a hunk of pyrite. They let me know each other are there, swimming through the part of my mind that doesn’t let me sleep, occasionally bumping into one another, latching themselves to nothing.

The Cavs will become easier to put words to. (The specter of my friend’s peril, probably less so.) I’ll have games and stats and Youtube clips to glom onto, though I think I’ll still feel like I’m describing a sculpture by talking about what type of rock it’s made out of. Something is being built or something is decaying, and we probably won’t know which until it’s too late. Bone growth and accumulating water damage happen where eyes can’t see.

With that in mind, this space where I do bong rip-y takes on Kyrie Irving’s facial hair will in some way be about a friend who’s in danger. It will also be about movies I like and social anxiety. It’ll be about lots of stuff and how that stuff intersects with basketball. I’ll do my best to make this kitchen sink approach to covering the Cavs a sort of thought-gumbo, but the thing about slow-cooked seafood stews is that they’ll sometimes turn your body into a torture chamber.

I hope the Q isn’t like a torture chamber. Just long, slow violence. I hope it’s like a ball pit or a greenhouse. We could all use some fun.