So I can’t prove it, but I am pretty sure—really, almost positive—that Todd Haley is my cable guy.
He showed up at my door yesterday afternoon (and, might I say, well within the waiting window I had been given) and claimed his name was “Justin.” But from the moment we made eye contact—a lingering, suspicious, Larry David-type stare-down—I could tell he sensed I was on to him. That faint goatee, the tuft of mullet sticking out from under his baseball cap, a brooding, slightly dubious expression—he was a dead ringer for the Chiefs coach, and it dawned on me: I had never met this man before, and I have never met Todd Haley. But I have also never seen them both in the same room at the same time.
I had just sat down to write my installment for this week—I was planning to use the Falcons’ and Patriots’ implosions this weekend as a lead into some ruminations on the historical pressure of being a top seed in the NFL playoffs (“Being Number One Is Not So Fun”). But my ramble was just disintegrating into a dirge for the 1995 and 1997 Chiefs. I found myself using Bono and Grbac in the same, awful sentence, and I had typed “Lin Elliot” four times before the end of the third paragraph. It was…not so fun.
And with Todd Haley heading out back—was that a limp?—supposedly to check the wiring, my mind started to wander. And I realized, it had been happening again. As might be expected with any relationship that had been going well but ended suddenly, I had started seeing “them” everywhere:
On Friday, at the coffee shop that I use as “my midtown office,” I noticed a new, tall white guy working behind the counter. The place was nearly empty and he had all the time he needed back there—and he got my order to me perfectly. But once the mid-morning rush came on, he was scrambling, clearly feeling the pressure. His name tag said “Steve,” but Matt Cassel wasn’t fooling anyone. Well, okay, he was fooling everyone else. But not me.
On Saturday, on what I believe was my fifth or sixth trip to Lowe’s that day (seriously, they should change their slogan from “Let’s Build Something Together” to “Okay, What The #$% Did You Forget This Time?”), I passed the same gaggle of Girl Scouts at the entrance, who screamed “Cookies!!” at me for the fifth or sixth time. Only on this trip, I noticed the proud mother standing behind them. It was Shaun Smith.
On Sunday, flipping through the channels after the Jets rolled Tom Brady and the Patriots, I caught a few minutes of the Golden Globes. I’d actually never watched the Golden Globes before, and now I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television: Tamba Hali*
And it’s not just me. The night after the Chiefs’ season-ending loss to the Ravens, my cousin reported seeing Branden Albert chowing down on burnt ends at Jack Stack on the Plaza, and even went up and thanked him for a great season.*
*Okay, so that really happened.
Of course, this is in some ways a good sign—in recent years, when all potential and attraction had already faded by, say, Week Seven, I barely noticed when the Chiefs’ season, and our time together, officially ended. This year, the relationship meant much more to me, and so I’m not handling this break quite as well. Apparently, I have moved on from the withdrawal I was experiencing last week to the next stage: hallucination.
Or have I? Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Brian Waters—they still have football to play next week, sorta.* But what about everyone else? Is it so hard to believe they might moonlight in other off-season roles? If Herm Edwards can be paid money to go on television and offer his live, unedited analysis of—get this—football, then why can’t Todd Haley be my cable guy?
*Here’s a suggestion for an AA poll next week: How many people out there actually watch the Pro Bowl? I don’t mean turning it on in the background and occasionally checking your favorite players’ stats while taking care of end-of-the-week chores like folding laundry or emailing your friend about that girl her friend’s friend’s friend brought to the party last night or (if you’re already married) folding your wife’s laundry. I mean sitting down, perhaps in the official 2011 AFC Brian Waters #54 replica jersey you bought just for that afternoon, and actually watching the game, snap to snap, play by play, as if it were, you know, a game you actually cared about? You do? Damn. My bad.
As “Justin” was showing me the features of my new set-up, I noticed that he lingered on the NFL Network highlights just a moment too long. The screen cut to Jets coach Rex Ryan bloviating at his post-game press conference, and I detected a slightly pained expression and perhaps a wave of nausea—though that’s just a natural human reaction.
As he left, the cable guy gave me his card, and told me to call anytime if I had a problem. Any time? Okay. Great. How about next fall? On a Sunday afternoon?
We’ll see if he shows up.