Sportsball, Love, Loss and Friendship

Two non-fans share an unexpected basketball game experience

I came home tonight and Lily was clearly sad about Mark leaving for basic training. Lily said that they had wanted to go play pool but none of their friends were available. I had to study for my MBA, but frankly between studying statistics and playing pool with Lily…

So get in the car and go to Nitehawk.

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We get there and the game is on. And the place is packed, because the Blazers (Portland team) are playing the Denver Nuggets and everyone is there watching the game. So we wait for a pool table to clear.

Neither one of us cares a fig about any of the sportsball, so we’re just casually glancing at the screens while talking random stuff.

But it’s just three minutes before regulation time is over, and the teams are neck-and-neck — so now we’re watching. And 123–125. And, with a minute left, 125–125. I’m thinking, it’s a tie — because, what the fuck do I know. “It’s the playoffs, Cassie,” says Lily — as if that meant anything to me.

So they go into overtime.

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We’re just waiting for a pool table to clear. But people are hogging the tables, dilly-dallying and watching the game. And Lily is fuming. This is THEIR fucking bar, and all these crashers are hogging the tables. So we’re waiting for the game to end.

And overtime gets heated. It gets intense. And it’s two points for Denver, but it’s two points for Portland. And still neck-and-neck.

Lily is not so much rooting for Denver to win as they are rooting for Portland to lose. Lily is from Denver originally, so there’s that — but the real motivation is just “for people to get the fuck out of my bar.” Lily is literally rooting for the 100 people in the bar to be sad and go home. Because if they’re happy they’ll stay and celebrate, which is a pain in the ass.

The game is now on second overtime. And still neck-and-neck. And now we’re beginning to talk about how crazy this is. “This is a really good game, Cassie!” — Lily says. And Millsap has some incredible moves. But McCullin is amazing. And I’m realizing I now know TWO names of sports dudes. And we’re both astonished to find ourselves deep into this game. Which is so crazy.

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Third overtime ends with Denver pulling two points out of a hat, with eight freakin’ seconds left. And they’re tied again. Fourth overtime and we’re losing our minds. And the people in the bar are all losing their minds. Except they’re all rooting for Portland and Lily is totally not.

With 44 seconds to go, Denver pulls ahead at 137–135. 44 seconds to go, and we’re thinking it’s clear, Denver won. And then at 22 seconds left the Blazers get a two-pointer and they’re tied. And at 17 seconds left they score another point after a foul, and now they’re ahead by ONE point. And a few seconds later they make a long-shot, and the game ends 137–140 with Portland a winner.

And we’re like, “what the fuck just happened?” And Lily says, “I’ve never ever cared about a sports game this much in my whole life!” And we’re both laughing so hard.

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Lily had said that they would do a shot if Portland won, so now we’re doing gin shots — and I’m a lightweight so soon I’m pretty tipsy.

And now we play pool. So Lily has a clear advantage.

You would think.

Except that, as it turns out, I’m better at pool when I’m drunk. The things you discover about yourself.

I am basically beating their ass — all my stripes in, three of their solids still out. But then I scratch — white ball in the corner. We go home, laughing our asses of — well, as soon as Lily is done flirting with the hot bartender (a tall drink of water with tattoos on his neck and arms; handsome, sweet and charming).

Lily is missing Mark terribly — third night without him. Mark joined the Military and will be gone for three months. Lily and I talk about the fragility of certainty and the unbearable lightness of being — though we don’t call it that. We talk about why they didn’t say “I love you.” I talk about Deanna. Deanna whom I still miss so bad it hurts much of the time. We talk about past love and lost love, about our hopes for future love. We talk about Chicago, about Montana and cows and picket fences and dreams.

We hug. Lily cries. We talk some more. It’s past midnight — we both should be getting to bed, and yet we’re talking right into our own version of a fourth overtime. We’re so happy at each other’s company.

Love makes life desirable.
Loss makes love terrible.
Friendship makes loss bearable.

Activist. Public speaker. Writer. Community Organizer. Mom. Creator & Host, Empowered Trans Woman Summit. Managing Editor,

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