ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo of the St. Louis Rams reacts to a call during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Edward Jones Dome on September 11, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Eagles defeated the Rams 31-15. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
I like campfires. The soul warming glow of the light far exceeds the actual heat felt. It may have to do with how you build a campfire whether it makes you feel actual heat? I built mine with a couch. My couch actually, and I don't mind telling you the damn thing
is was heavy.
The doorways I dragged it through on the way to the front yard suffered for their lack of width too. How the furniture store originally delivered it I can't recall right now, because I'm enjoying my campfire at the moment. Its mildly toxic smoke is wafting away my little anxieties of the day... I've come to realize these anxieties seem to crop up at this time of year? As I began to consider the core reason for this phenomena, I waved to my neighbors as they came out on their lawns to watch my flaming sacrifice to the Gods of tranquility and football reason. The first year this event happened, mothers herded their children into their houses. As the years have gone by, its become more of a strange tradition for the neighborhood to come out and watch my couch campfire. I think it may actually be good for the local economy? A few years ago, some of the furniture stores in town began having couch sales the day after my annual event, even going so far as to use a picture of one of my couches in an ad. "Tired of your old couch?", the ad declared. "Buy today and we'll include free flame retardant and delivery!"
I began to nod my head at the reason why I replace my couch by buying online, when the first of a few Sheriff's cars and fire trucks began to slowly approach my house. The first Sheriff out of his car was my long time friend, Bob Lousy. We became friends when I created some impromptu campaign posters for his first Sheriff's election campaign. "Lousy, Sheriff - Great for Crime" one of my poster proclaimed. Somehow he thought my skills would be better suited to fund raising?
"Hey Doug, saw the score earlier," he said as he sidled up next to me and joined in staring at the burning couch. "So what happened? I thought you said the Rams were..." He stopped talking when he saw me raise a finger in the air, then pointed at the fire. We resumed our silent staring at the fire as more Sheriffs and a few firemen walked up. The Fire Chief, Titus Fielding, is another friend of mine and he took station on my other side. Looking at me and Bob staring at the fire, he shrugged and began to stare too. "If you want my boys to put the fire out, you let me know," his words directed toward the fire.
"Doug hasn't figured out why the Rams lost today yet, so it could be burning a while." Bill almost laughed, but saw the look on my face and reconsidered. "I heard the Rams had quite a few injuries, so maybe that's why they..." he caught himself just in time. He knew my thoughts on any form or derivation of the word "Lost" when it came to the Rams. "I'm just sayin', it might not be as bad as you think. That Steve Jackson and Sam Bradford will be back soon, and," he took his hat off, because he knew how much I liked the player he was about to mention. "Amendola will heal up OK. He's a tough kid."
Knowing he had probably looked up the Rams -Eagles game overview before he drove out, I knew he meant well. "It wasn't just the injuries. The whole team just laid there like your sis..." Bob's head swiveled to glare at me, "I mean... like a rug." I elbowed Titus who was chocking back his laughter. "The defense played afraid of Michael Vick running the ball the whole game. When he handed the ball off, it was like our defensive linemen didn't believe it. So their running backs ran the hell out of the ball... They just kicked the Holy hell out of us! Now we have no corner backs to speak of going into the New York Giants game next week... Titus, would a couple of your firemen help me with my Lazyboy?"
Bob and Titus exchanged grins. Titus put a hand on my shoulder, "Sorry my friend, we put fires out, we don't make them bigger. Besides, you love that chair. It's the only recliner I've never seen with eight cup holders, a round fold up tray for pizza and a ice cream freezer." Titus and Bob nodded their agreement. They loved my chair. When I told them I'd put it in a yard sale a few years ago, they both wrecked their cars as they raced to my house to buy it. When the one and only taxi in town delivered them to my house, the chair wasn't in among the yard sale detritus and thinking it sold, they both looked like they were going to cry. As I told them I had been kidding about selling my "wonder chair" from behind my locked front door, I heard language unfitting public servants. I never intended on selling the chair. But the $200 their wives paid me not to sell it to them did come in handy.
"I just don't think burning my couch is good enough this year. The Rams need to start winning. I love Sam Bradford," I put a hand up before they could say what I knew was coming. "Not that way, I mean as a quarterback. I'm just starting to think his learning curve is on a longer road than I imagined possible. He learns from each mistake, but it's like he takes each thing and concentrates on fixing it at the expense of the all else. At this rate, it could take him 10 years to become an elite quarterback?"
"The kid has an arm, I'll give you that," Titus chimed in, "but he ain't ever going to be great if he doesn't have someone who can catch a football." Titus and Bob started chuckling after they tried to bump fists and missed.
"The Rams receivers looked like they were playing tag with the ball," Bob made a swiping motion at an invisible football, then looked at his empty hands.
"Yeah, and that right tackle of yours looked more like a matador when he tried to block." Titus held out an invisible cape as an imaginary bull whisked by, "Ole! Bradford's lucky to be alive!"
I gave them my "very funny" smirk. I knew some of what they said was true to varying degrees, but I'd never want them to know it. They are both Dallas Cowboys fans and with the Rams playing them in the not too distant future, I didn't want to leak possibly vital information to the enemy. "I guess we have 15 more games to iron out what went wrong and fix it. You and your guys want pizza?" Seeing heads nodding all around me, I whipped out my cell phone and placed a quick call. All I had to do is mention who I was and the girl said, "It's already cooking Mr. M. We saw the smoke. It should be there in about ten minutes. Same order as last year right?" Smiling, I confirmed the now annual order and ended the call. "Ten minutes guys," I told the crowd of Sheriff deputies and firemen. Some of them headed into my house for paper plates and to the garage for the stack of lawn chairs I kept handy for this time of year. Then I returned to staring at the campfire, now just a smoking couch frame. With the couch's end went my thoughts of the this last game. Surrounded by my friends, we began to talk of the weeks and weeks to come in this NFL season. While we ate our way through the stack of pizzas, the eyes of the group slowly shifted to me. They all knew what I'd say. "The Rams are going to win the next one, and here's how they're going to do it..."