My favorite story about Tuesdays With Morrie doesn’t involve me. I really wish it did.
The Mitch Albom book your mom loves was required reading for my 11th grade English class. It’s a good read, sure, but my curriculum that year was downright depressing. A quick syllabus:
— Angela’s Ashes: Because nothing says cheerful prose like famine and doing it with a consumption-riddled little girl. Thanks to this book, I can’t eat a fish fry without wondering if it secretly tastes like newsprint.
— The Jungle: A delightful mix of horrific deaths and socialism set in the stockyards of Chicago (Real socialism, not ‘Obama socialism’). It’s a very influential book that also happens to be dour as hell. If you think pink slime is gross, you’ll love tales of the slaughterhouse interwoven with the breaking of a Lithuanian immigrant’s spirit. I lost it when his son drowns in a puddle where the sidewalk should be.
— Tuesdays With Morrie: This book makes almost everyone cry, but its worst crime is more blatant in hindsight. It spawned a cottage industry of tan-wrapped sobfest reading from an insufferable journalist from Detroit (He’s from Jersey by way of Buffalo, but his heart is in the Motor City. Gag.). Mitch Albom is a loser, but this book made everyone love him. It’s the worst.
— A book I can’t remember, probably because it doesn’t jive with the theme I’m building here. Or maybe I did read only four books in a single grade. After all, I did go to a public school.
— I think my teacher saw the pall forming over the class, because she called an audible and we actually got to pick the final book on our own. Still had to fit the theme because the inevitable comparison essay was looming. I choose Catch 22, one of my favorites, because reading about someone being cut in half by an airplane seemed like a breezy vacation away from the horrors of my earlier curriculum.
By the time Morrie rolled around, my English classes were nothing but gallows humor and depression when the teacher wasn’t listening. Classes proceeded in a somber silence. No one slept, for only dark dreams would greet you. Apparently it took 14 Tuesdays for Albom to write the book. At times it felt like 400.
So about that story. Relaying this educational agony to (silent Roost partner) Rich, he told me about a friend of his who took the same class with him the year before.
They were just past the halfway point of the book. Before class one day, his friend lamented “Why can’t he just DIE already?” just as the horrified teacher walked into the room. Everyone agreed it was a cruel but valid question.
This is a post about the Buffalo Sabres, because they are the dour novel that just won’t go away. Except in our case, we’re still not sure what we really want to do with them just yet.
Sure, this hockey team is something to do and the storytelling isn’t bad (Well actually, it kind of is). To make this team the object of your affection seems silly at this point. It’s like Frankie McCourt getting it on with Theresa Carmody: there may be some fun times but at the end of the day there’s going to be a corpse in the room.
With ‘games remaining’ now in the single digits for this team, the goal is to achieve some sort of finality with this group. Not even close. Buffalo is two points out of a playoff spot and the Capitals are skating aimlessly, too. The drama is just unbearable.
Winnipeg, currently in tenth place, got eight goals dropped on them Tuesday night and they still have a chance. Buffalo choked away two points last week and managed to gain ground by not playing. Washington murdered its coach in cold blood earlier this season and is in the driver’s seat to snag the final spot.
There is no plant metaphor for this season. Hibiscus flowers kind of suck, and so do the Sabres. And the Capitals. And the Jets. No one is special and the team that makes the playoffs will find its season meet an unceremonious end simply delayed four or five more games. The plot isn’t changing here, guys.
But they’re not going away. The Sabres scored a bunch of goals in Tampa on Monday and could win against Montreal to bridge the gap with Washington. The season will march on and on. Every game will mean something, even if that something is inevitably pointless.
The worst part is that the characters in this story are paper-thin. Boring, even. At least Angela’s Ashes has an interesting narrator and Jurgis was somewhat charming before watching his family slowly disintegrate made the poor guy cling to politics. Morrie is worth crying over. This Sabres team, however, is not. Quiet and aimless, with few likable characters, this book will trudge on to the final pages.
There is no big finish coming. They’re going to die. It’s only a matter of time, and it will be anticlimactic. They can score all they want on terrible Tampa goaltenders, but I’m not expecting a sharp, pointy victory flower to bloom this spring. At least not one worth being sad over when it’s gone.
Playoffs or not, this season will have little to show for it once it’s finally over. A year full of down chapters and few glimmers of hope read aloud by incoherent, warbled voices. The closer it gets, the happier I’ll be when it’s over.
Maybe then I can crack open a better book.