For most of my adult life I have been searching for that perfect verbal defense. A go-to excuse that, once uttered, abruptly ends the conversation, forcing all divergent parties into silence or, even better, agreement.
I discovered it the night of October 1. Four simple words that I hope to use up until November 4 (if necessary).
The Cubs are on.
It worked like a charm 30 minutes before the wildcard game featuring the Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates. My family had just finished dinner and was collectively clearing the dishes when my daughter popped an innocent question.
“Dad, can you drive me to Morgan’s to study?”
“Can’t honey,” I replied. “The Cubs are on.”
“No problem,” my wife said. “I’ll do it.”
Only this time her response was not accompanied by a loud, sarcastic sigh or a “guess I’m the chaperone again” comment. She merely grabbed the car keys and headed out, leaving me to comfortably sink into my easy chair, adjust my Cubs cap and await pre-game introductions.
As I write this column, the Chicago Cubs continue to play post-season baseball. And because the ranks of long suffering fans like myself have swelled into the millions, it is imperative Joe Maddon’s boys keep winning. Not because the Cubs haven’t tasted a World Series victory since, by some accounts, the Hellenistic period, but because we Cubs faithful want to milk this can’t miss excuse as long as possible.
From the moment the post season schedule was announced — and the Cubs’ name FINALLY appeared on it — the phrase, “The Cubs are on” has reigned supreme as my go-to response for, well, everything. I’ve already successfully used it to avoid fall yard clean up, grocery shopping and weekend bill paying. Luckily my wife is not much of a baseball fan; otherwise our children would be losing weight and a line of creditors would be pulling up to our house demanding money, provided they could navigate through waist high weeds and overgrown brush to reach our front door.
The point is, she understands.
She understands the Cubs have a chance this year and nothing, repeat NOTHING, should stop fans from watching our beloved team. We’ve lived through the 1969 black cat curse, the 1984 Leon Durham ground ball debacle, the 2003 Steve Bartman lets-not-even-go-there-anymore fly ball incident, and the knuckleheaded 2008 dumping of holy water in the Cubs dugout prior to their opening round flameout against the Los Angeles Dodgers. After each incident, our TVs and radios soon fell silent. We returned to our normal routines, jealous that fans in other cities were shirking day-to-day duties by saying, “the Giants are on,” “the Padres are on,” or, as weird as it sounds, “the Marlins are on.”
If the Cubs can continue their march toward a title, it’s quite possible “the Cubs are on” excuse could be used to circumvent our nation’s laws. The Cubs’ bandwagon swells with every victory, so chances are excellent the state trooper, county judge or federal official would be very understanding.
“Sorry I was speeding, officer. The Cubs are on.”
“You’re right, buddy. Here’s a warning. Hurry home. If you push it to 80, you’ll make the first pitch.”
“Sorry I didn’t pay my quarterly taxes, Mr. IRS man. The Cubs are on.”
“I’m emailing you an extension form right now, sir. GO CUBBIES!
“Sorry I rear ended your vehicle, ma’am. The Cubs are on.”
“No worries. That’s what insurance is for, right?”
Cubs fans know the baseball gods could inflict more cruelty on us. If an Anthony Rizzo game winning home run ball inexplicably collided with a bird flying low over left field and dropped harmlessly into an opponent’s glove, we’d understand. But until then, we will park ourselves in front of our flat screens, turn up the volume on our car stereos and demand Muzak in every elevator be replaced with the Cubs broadcast, fervent in our belief that this is the year.
WARNING: Approach us with caution and think twice before making any requests.
The Cubs are on.