A very good day, in any weather

Sometimes, everything works out alright in the end, even though you figured you had little chance of succeeding.  Better yet, sometimes, every once a blue moon, the stars line up, the Fates smile, and the dominoes fall exactly the right way, including a point where they clack together into a massive advertisement that screams “Eat at JOES!” as fireworks explode.

Of course, that’s certainly not typical.   Usually the dominoes run off the rail somehow right in the middle of the trick and you get no logo or fireworks, and you have to go back to the beginning and set everything up all over again.
But on Sunday, everything work out perfectly, for once.
No, I didn’t really set up a domino display or eat at a place called Joe’s.  The only Joe’s I’m aware of around here is Joe’s Crab Shack, and I’m allergic to shellfish, so it’s not really the happiest place on Earth for me.  At any rate, the whole thing was kind of a metaphor that I might have let get a little out of hand.

So then, what the hell am I talking about?  Glad you asked!  If you will recall, I mentioned before that (through no fault of my own) I’d accidentally managed to inflict a case of Bengalitis on the Puddinpop.  You know, the wretched sickness that makes you watch the Cincinnati Bengals even though you know damned good and well that your day would follow an altogether more pleasant course if you went out and cleaned the gutters instead?  Yeah, well, he’s just as stricken as I am at this point, and worse, because he isn’t numb to it yet, the losses upset him much more than they do me.

He’s still got to develop his Bengals’ callous.

At any rate, he asked me much earlier this season, right about when the televised blackouts began, if we could attend a Bengals game.  I asked if he meant in person, and then laughed manically as if that statement was the most entertaining thing that had ever passed my tympanic membrane.  For one thing, I’ve made a secret suicide pact with a sinister cult not to give Mike Brown any of my hard-earned money until the team hires a bona-fide general manager and expands the talent scouting department to include, at minimum, two individuals that don’t appear simultaneously on both the Bengals’ corporate org chart and the Brown family tree.  For another, a quick look at the remaining home games showed that we really didn’t have a Sunday free until well after the end of season.
But I hate to be definitive about things like that, so I responded to him with a firm, probably not.
He’s a pretty sharp kid.  He knows that probably not is a more kid-friendly way of saying, “perhaps, but only when monkeys fly outta my butt.”
But he’s no dummy either.  A few weeks ago, I found out that on the Official Puddinpop List for Santa Claus, item #2 was “Tickets to a Bengals’ Game.”  And that’s when the clack-clack-clack of falling dominoes could be heard all around.
A good friend of mine who holds season tickets told me one Monday night during our weekly MNF ritual that he was done with the Bengals this year, and that if anyone wanted to take one someone to a game, his tickets were available for just such an endeavor.  If I didn’t know better, I’d suspect the Puddinpop somehow orchestrated the whole thing.
So then, I had access to a pair of tickets.  But still, scheduling was an obstacle.  The only game that held even a glimmer of hope for my son was the day after Christmas game.  But that day would be my family’s Major Christmas Event.  And trust me, it is a sacred thing.  I’ve believe I’ve referred to all the craziness that goes into that (see Epic Holiday Shenanigans).
Still, though, you don’t get the opportunity to fulfill a child’s Nearly Impossible Christmas Wish every day. So, with hat in hand, I asked my mother, the Family Christmas Matriarch, for a dispensation to leave the gathering early for the game.  While it was not her first choice, she is wise, and she too understands the joy in fulfilling a Christmas Wish.  So she told us to bring home a winner.
It was something like 20 degrees for the game Sunday, with a wind-chill factor that dipped just below OMG-My-Nads-Are-Frozen-Completely-Into-Acorns.  Honestly, I doubt I would’ve stood outside in such frigid, windy conditions even if you told me the Free Money Truck was making it’s rounds.  But we did it Sunday, and neither one of us uttered a single complaint.
I told him we could leave whenever he wanted.  He refused to go anywhere until the final seconds clicked off the clock.
So, even in the face of a firm probably not, the Puddinpop clung to the fragile hope that we’d manage to see a game this year, and somehow, miraculously, all the pieces fell into place.  We braved that frigid game together, cheering and shouting, jumping up and down, fist-bumping and high-fiving whenever the Bengals scored.  We drank hot chocolate and reveled in the experience together.  He even bought himself a Bengals’ foam claw, an amazing feat in itself because the Puddinpop is tighter than old Ebenezer Scrooge.
All of that made the game special in a kind of way I’ll never really be able to describe fully.  And to top it all off, as the day’s final miracle, somehow, the Bengals’ beat a team that no one gave them even a chance of defeating, and looked like a real football team doing it.
Yes, the dominoes all fell just the right way.
Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus, and he does, apparently, make Christmas Wishes comes true.

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