Scene: a living room, at night, in October. A father sits on a sofa, reading the sports page. In walks a child.
Child: Dad, where does playoff excitement come from?
Dad: Go ask your mother.
Child: I did! She told me to ask you.
Dad (shifting uncomfortably in chair): What, um, why do you want to know?
Child: Well, I was at Billy's, and he didn't want to play XBox today, he just wanted to watch the Tigers game. He said his parents were from Detroit and watching the Tigers with them gave him a strange feeling.
Dad: Yeah -- yeah, I can see why that was interesting.
Child: Then I remembered, like all these years ago, you and Mom making these funny yelling noises late at night. I thought you were hurting each other. But when I peeked at you, you were smiling and watching a Tigers game with the Twins in it.
Dad (blushing): That was WAY past your bedtime!
Child: I know, I didn't wanna! I was scared!
Dad: It's OK, it's OK. (He puts down the paper and invites the child to sit beside him.) We probably should have had this talk before. (Stretches, sighs.) Kiddo, when two grownups love a baseball team very, very much -- ...
Child: Like the Tigers!
Dad (nodding): Yes, like the Tigers, in a way. Grownups can get, well, they can get Special Happy together watching a baseball game. And not only the Tigers, because there are lots and lots of different teams that grownups can enjoy. Which means sometimes they will make yelling noises. But those are safe noises.
Child: Oh, now I see.
Dad: See what?
Child: I didn't want to be bad, but after Billy told me about the Tigers game, I . . . I . . . I watched one late at night. I was really, really quiet. And I didn't get any kind of strange feeling.
Dad: (exhaling): Well, that's a relief.
Child B-b-but that wasn't the only time. I also watched a Yankees game.
Child: And . . . I think I felt "it." (Dad sucks in a breath.) But I didn't mean to, I promise! I kinda, well, they looked so awesome in their uniforms and they were winning and (voice trembles) I wanted to be grown-up, like Billy was, and when they beat Baltimore and all that champagne came out I just, I just . . .
Dad (hugging child): Hey! Hey, kiddo, that's fine! Your mother and I will love you no matter what team you like best. We like the Twins, but if you don't, we'll support you. At your age it's natural to experiment.
Child: It is?
Dad: It is. And I'll tell you something. Your grandma, my mom, wasn't happy that I liked the Twins.
Child: Really? Is that because she was a little girl in Washington?
Dad: Right! See, you do pay attention to her stories.
Child: Most of 'em. But the toys at her house are boring.
Dad: The point is, she still loved me anyway. Just like we'll always love you. But, kiddo, don't -- . . .
Child: Don't what?
Dad: Don't tell her at Thanksgiving about the Yankees. It can wait for a while. We'll see how you feel later, and your grandma has a little bit of a problem with the Yankees. But I'm sure, if we have to, we can get over it as a family.
Child: Thanks, Dad!
Dad: No problem.
Child: Can I ask more questions?
Dad: Well, nothing too important. This is enough for one night, don't you think?
Child: Are you and Mom gonna die?
Dad: Oh, hell, yes. Probably from some lingering illness that will require selling the house, while cruelly reducing your last memories of us to endless hospital visits and holding our barf bowls.
Child: Will the Twins ever make the playoffs again so you and Mom make those funny noises?
Dad (taking child in arms, swaying): Not for years and years and years, kiddo. Not for a long, long time. Ssh, ssh.