Growing up, and for most of my adult life, Red Sox fans were the hard-luck losers. The wait-til-next-year gang. The folks who entered spring with high hopes, and quietly packed up the T-shirts and puffy foam hands come Labor Day.
We were never gonna get a chance to kick the football before Lucy pulled it away. Never gonna score the hot chick at the dance. And never, ever get a chance to taste World Series champagne.
We wore that perpetual hang-dog look of dashed dreams and gut-wrenching disappointment. And in many ways, it made us endearing to the masses. People actually felt bad for us, as if they, too, believed that there was a Curse of the Bambino. And that it would keep kicking us square in the nuts for the rest of our lives.
Then 2004 happened. And everything changed.
Suddenly, we were the assholes. The insufferable, entitled and somehow spoiled dickweeds who dared let out a collective sigh (and, perhaps, had a couple beers too many) when what seemed an impossibility became an impossibly awesome reality.
It’s a sentiment carried on to this day, as GQ — that bastion of taste-making, without which no right-thinking man would know what drape of pants is right for him — recently placed Red Sox fans at number 10 on its list of the 15 worst sports fans in America.
In a way, I can see it. There are only so many “live from Sully’s pub” shots you can take during Sox playoff coverage that depict the “Yankees Suck” chant — and fervent alcoholism — in full effect.
But, goddam it, I can certainly speak for myself when I say that I’ve never let two World Series victories change my perspective. I feel no sense of entitlement. I haven’t maintained a “Championship or failure” mentality since 2004. I cringe at the prospects of being named the favorite for 2011, as the underdog tag has served us well for far too long.
Maybe it’s jealousy. Or an underground campaign being waged by some Cubs fans. Or we’ve gone through the looking glass to an alternate reality where maintaining an otherwordly passion for your team — even a team that has busted up your heart as much as the Sox — is a crime punishable by a right good dressing-down in a men’s fashion mag.
Or maybe it’s a case of, as the Butthole Surfers once famously informed us, “you never know just how you look through other people’s eyes.”
You tell me.