When I was in first grade, there was a kid named Thomas who couldn’t go more than a couple weeks without peeing his pants. Every day he’d come to school dressed in a collared shirt and a nice pair of slacks, and every day you’d think, “Will Thomas pee his pants today?” It wasn’t a question of if. It was a question of when. Our teacher knew he had a problem and tried to cure him of it. She tried having Thomas go to the bathroom every hour on the hour. It failed. She sat him in the seat closest to the exit and gave him the green light to head out at the first sign of trouble. That failed, too. Time and time again, they’d try something new, proclaim how things were different now, how Thomas was doing so much better … and then Thomas would pee his pants again.
I was reminded of this story last night as I watched my San Diego Chargers blow a 24-point half-time lead.
The worst part, as it was with Thomas, was realizing I had talked myself into thinking everything was going amazingly, only to realize, “Oh crap. This is exactly when pee-pee usually meets pants.” I realize there are many disgruntled fan bases out there, and many teams that are incredibly disappointing. I’m not here to play “Who’s got it the worst,” nor am I here to tell you being a Chargers fan is especially painful. What’s depressing is that every season we dress our team in our finest new school clothes: This is Rivers’s year! We had an amazing draft! The division is shit, we’ll go 12-4 and get a 2-seed! And it’s only when they’re peeing themselves do we think, Oh, right. This is what we do.
Several years later I ended up in a class with Thomas, who had grown up to be a very athletic, good-looking kid who kept his pants dry as a mofo. We got on the subject of first grade (since that was the last time I’d been in a class with him), and he brought up his pants-peeing problem.
“I could not stop pissing my pants,” he laughed.
“Yeah, what was up with that?” I asked.
“I don’t know. My mom would always dress me up in super-nice clothes and then be like, ‘This is the week where you stop doing it!’ And then I’d get nervous because I was in nice clothes and I’d pee my pants. Then she gave up and put me in shitty clothes and I stopped.”
Maybe the Chargers are just a team that can’t handle the pressure of expectations. But if that’s the case, all of San Diego has to stop dressing them in nice clothes and then getting upset when they have to throw their pants away when they get home.