Down on the Farm: Agony of defeat
Due to the modern miracle (or curse) that is the Internet, and due to one of its miraculous (or demonic) offshoots, Facebook, an invention which allows people to broadcast their deepest feelings minute-by-minute to friends, relatives, acquaintances, former paramours and co-workers across the world, I know how much the Vikings game in New Orleans meant to a whole lot of people.
Namely, I know how my 400 friends on Facebook, including several dozen people I know personally, felt about the team in purple.
They didn't merely hope their team would win. They hoped for personal redemption via the Vikings.
Young mothers with three kids under age 5 posted that they were having trouble finding ways to pass the time until the game started.
Grandmothers wrote giddy notes, teenagers waxed philosophical, agnostics posted prayers, good reverends swore oaths and academics babbled incoherently.
Others on Facebook passed the time by shoveling snow, taking naps, going to church, making pies or cleaning house.
People pulled out their lucky shirts, sat in their lucky chairs, ate their lucky meals, turned on their lucky radio.
Some swore that the results of the game didn't matter and that people should just relax and enjoy the drama from a detached perspective.
Yeah, right. Not when your mental health for the next decade is at stake.
Those over 40 revived the ghost of Drew Pearson. The younger set kicked around the spectre of Gary Anderson.
What might happen today to match those debacles? they asked. Perhaps it was a jinx to even talk about it, others answered.
Reality did not disappoint the doubters. Plagued by a series of baffling errors, the Vikings threw away a game which might have been safely theirs.
The sting of defeat was lessened by the compelling story of the victors. The Saints and their long-suffering fans deserve a trip to the Super Bowl and nobody's going to begrudge it to them. These aren't the Yankees.
Or the Cowboys. It is not as if Landry, Staubach, Pearson and their zebra friends ripped off the virtuous Vikings. No, the easy-going Minnesotans, friendly as ever, just plain handed the game over. And over. And over.
As soon as the fatal field goal split the posts, I signed in again to Facebook too see how the Nordics amongst my faithful 400 friends would handle the defeat.
The more philosophical remembered the season as a whole and pronounced it a success.
Emotionally fragile types used up exclamation points by the boxful to protest the turnovers and the unbearable tension of it all.
Baseball fans turned their back on the sunken Viking ship and speculated that with the football season safely put to bed, the Twins would unveil Joe Mauer's new contract within the week.
One can only hope.
Not surprisingly, hard-done-by types claimed the referees were in the pocket of the Saints.
Other grumblers claimed, with some justification, that the Saints didn't care how egregious the personal fouls it took to maim the mighty Favre as long as they somehow knocked him senseless.
In any case, Favre, like his namesake for the weekend in the Red River Valley, Blizzard Brett, fizzled in the end.
Yes, it is a crazy world.
Despite the suffering all around us, I just spent an afternoon on the edge of my chair with my mood dependent upon whether a bunch of millionaires could hang onto a ball.
Not only that, but thanks to the computer on my lap, I shared the experience with 400 people hundreds of miles distant who also sat on the edge of their chairs with their computers on their lap hoping that a bunch of millionaires could hang onto a ball.
When the millionaires dropped the ball five times, hope for a better life evaporated Minnesotans of all stripes: for young mothers, drunks at the bar, nursing home residents, teenagers, ministers, as well as for all former Minnesotans who longed for bragging rights in the office at some company in Seattle Monday morning.
We can all point fingers. However, I think I know exactly where the blame lies.
Believe it or not, rumor has it that there's a small country Lutheran Church up north that actually canceled its annual meeting due to the Vikings game.
Can you imagine that happening 30 years ago? No way. Some church boards might have rammed through a slate of officers and run home, but cancel the whole meeting?
Bud Grant would have never put up with it.