As a Pittsburgh transplant, until now I’ve figured it’s probably best to keep two pieces of personal information under my hat:
1) I am incredibly good luck for sports. Whenever I move to a new city, national titles, fancy trophies, and city-wide victory parades follow. (I figured that if this ever got out, the black-and-gold-clad throngs would storm my home and rub my belly raw in a fit of mojo jonesing.)
2) In spite of how sports seem to love me, the feeling was hardly mutual. Truth be told, before I moved to this so-called “drinking town with a football problem,” I openly maintained that I hate ALL sports. (In this case, I was sure the same crowd would show up… carrying pitchforks.)
Let me start with Secret #1. Observe my stats, my life story:
My family moved to Dallas in 1978, just weeks after I was born. In my childhood years there, the Cowboys won four Super Bowls: XXII, XXVII, XXVIII, and XXX.
When I was 18, I left for college and resettled in a city that had no professional sports team of its own: Austin, TX. But wouldn’t you know the one closest to me—the San Antonio Spurs, just 80 miles south—won the championship in 1999?
That same year, I had a summer fling with a Stars fan, and in June I watched my very first hockey game with him in Big D. The Stars won the Stanley Cup that night.
Thankfully, my flinging days ended soon after, when I met a certain redhead. Dylan and I got married and moved to Boston in August 2001. Five months later, the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI.
Even after we left New England and moved to Pittsburgh in fall 2003, Beantown’s winning streak continued. The Pats won Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX. And on the baseball front, the Bambino is no more…. coincidence?
Pittsburgh, I must say that I’m very sorry my good luck was still occupied elsewhere after we arrived here. To tell you the truth, for a while I wanted to be back to Boston. I hope that certain events from the 2005-2006 NFL season might’ve helped make up for my temporary insanity. : )
Now for Deep, Dark Secret #2: my hatred for sports.
My Mom, a veteran for peace-slash-church lady (she served as a nurse in Vietnam), had a huge influence on me as a kid. Aggression and noise of pretty much any kind scared me off, and further, I just didn’t GET what would possess people to put their bodies through the torture of a football season… like, ON PURPOSE.
Of course, my own pitiful history as an athlete didn’t help. I was a lanky and uncoordinated grade schooler with all the grace of a giraffe on a trampoline (I hope to outgrow that phase any day now). I only played basketball because it gave me an excuse to take off my headgear for a few hours a week. Yeah. I was that kid.
I always hated Super Bowl weekend because it often fell way too close to my birthday for my liking. I spent my sweet 16 bored and bitter, watching the Cowboys at my friend A’s Super Bowl party.
To add insult to injury, A’s dog peed on me at halftime.
So. When I realized I had this gift, I considered working as a good luck charm for-hire. Buckets of cash seemed the only possible good that could come of sports. “Bah humbug,” I said.
But, People of the Black and Gold, before you start charging my door, chanting “KILL THE MONSTER!” let me tell you: That’s all over now.
You have cured me.
When the Steelers were up for the Super Bowl, I saw homemade “HERE WE GO!” signs all OVER the city. Folks from all walks of life chatted together about it on the bus, on the street, at the grocery store. I’d never seen sports inspire such a love fest—not even in Texas, where football is supposed to be a religion.
When I realized we’d bought a house across the street from a three-generation tribe of Penguins season-ticket holders—AND cattycorner to a family full of boys who play street hockey together in the alley practically every day—I was thrilled. I figured that if there’s anything at all to this good-luck thing, perhaps this could be my chance to give something back.
You see, Pittsburgh, you’ve been so good to me—to both of us—that I figure we owe you. Big time. You’ve given us all the benefits of a major city AND a small town—community, character, culture. You’ve given us our dream jobs AND an unbelievably cool, affordable home. And most importantly, you’re chock full of super-friendly, blessedly unpretentious people.
In short, Pittsburgh, you’ve been our good-luck charm.
Last Wednesday I watched my second-ever hockey game. The Pens fought their way back into the series. Saturday’s game didn’t go so well, but boy howdy, last night’s made up for it, didn’t it?
So here’s the deal, Pittsburgh. I’m going public; no more keeping this under my hat, and certainly no more humbugging. For whatever it’s worth, I am prepared to volunteer my services, gratis, throughout my remaining tenure as a Pittsburgher, which will hopefully be the rest of my life. I will continue to watch games and clap appropriately. I will channel my juju to the best of my ability, and I will gladly share it with you.
Pittsburgh, mi belly es su belly.