Tuesday, 8:35 a.m., she opens her e-mail and reads that, “…tomorrow, June 6, 2012 [is] INTEGRIS Thunder Spirit Day!” She notices her place of employment used not one, but TWO exclamation marks in an official “wear Thunder clothes to work tomorrow” message. She’s now certain that a good portion of her brain will be completely preoccupied by the impending Oklahoma City Thunder-San Antonio Spurs GAME 6 for every remaining second of the day.
11:30 p.m. that evening, she rolls over to stare at the alarm clock and groans. “Uhhhnnnnnhhh!” she thinks to herself, “I was right! C’mon brain, shut it off. You’ve got to rest up and save your energy for TOMORROW, the real and actual bona fide game day. Ugh.” Five minutes later, she starts thinking over again the problem of which “Thunder Wear” she’ll don for work tomorrow. Would it be her official NBA Kevin Durant Jersey? Or should she go casual and wear her “Thunder U” tee? She rolls over to stare at the alarm clock again and it’s 11:48. The last cognition she can recall had all periods between the words: “Must. Stop. Thinking….Cripes.”
Wednesday morning, 9:40 a.m. She has already explained to two people what “Thunder U” means and why her t-shirt IS indeed an appropriate choice for the day. As she whisks into her office to grab her massive “Thunder Power Flowers” she stops dead in her tracks, her gaze focusing on the weather outside her large picture window. Was that….thunder she heard? What!? Rain was pouring down the windows and the question in her head was answered with a second roll of thunder, louder this time and immediately influencing a ridiculously large smile across her face. Yes. It was an omen.
Wednesday afternoon, she strolls the halls to find someone, anyone, who will prognosticate about tonight’s game. She finds at least three people who help relieve her anxiety for a full four minutes.
Wednesday evening, 5:15 p.m. she calls her husband to carefully plan the food they will consume during the game. She pulls into Ted’s Cafe Escondido parking lot thirty minutes later to pick up a “set up” (salsa, cheese dip, chips and tortillas) to accompany the chicken fajitas and guacamole her husband was preparing at home. She was third in line at the “To Go” counter and realized her idea was also replicated by no fewer than the two others in line, one person calling in an order on the phone, and three people sitting in chairs staring menacingly at those who had actually planned to call ahead. Ted’s Set Ups were going like hot cakes…it seemed as if the whole world needed Mexican food to survive the game – now only two hours and fifteen minutes away. As she left the restaurant, she decided not to ruin the good karma for the Thunder by smiling triumphantly and holding up HER set up in front of those still waiting on theirs.
6:30 p.m. She and her husband are still in the kitchen, running around as if they were just learning to cook. They’re beyond distracted with the pre-game shows, the tension building up in their guts, and the fact that they had to have everything completely perfect so that every single brain cell could focus on the game once it started. They COULD NOT leave something undone in the food, pet care, plant watering and general chores department….it would be impossible to perform these tasks during the commercials. If someone had peeked in the window to observe, there might very well have been little blurs of people appearing to be moving in “fast forward” mode. GAME TIME was almost here!
8:00 p.m. Her bottom is sitting squarely in her cordovan, nailhead-detailed armchair. The T.V. is on. The food and beverages are within reach. Every muscle in her body is taut, her teeth are clenched, and she’s talking to her husband 2.5 times more rapidly than usual in a pitch 2.5 times higher than usual. Oh sweet holy Moses, the game has begun! She leans forward and begins to cheer the Thunder on to victory. Loudly. Emphatically. Hopefully. Oh yeah…she flips open her laptop, signs into her Twitter handle (@ThundahLuvah) and checks in with “her Thunder tweeps.” They’re all present and accounted for, and evidently completely and utterly psyched up on adrenaline.
She starts reading messages and getting all warm inside; local pride wells up in her heart and she re-reads all the coolest messages such as:
For brevity’s sake, the next portion will be extremely succinct:
1st quarter – Spurs look almost inhuman. They’re hitting every shot, mostly three-pointers, and the Thunder appears to be in a daze. Kelly? She’s fighting with her psyche in order to battle back the despair, while tweeting encouraging messages to her friends. “Don’t give up” is her constant message while her blood pressure rises. She knows that if THIS is to be the game, there will be no win tonight.
2nd quarter – Replica of the first quarter. Her teeth clench together harder, she tweets even greater doses of encouragement and begins typing “coaching” messages along with hundreds of others. The scoring gap widens and the Spurs close out the first half of the game a full 15 points at the half. She stares at the screen, shell-shocked by the absolute domination and stealth-like acumen the Spurs were dishing out. This was serious – the “patient” was bleeding and there was no sign of stopping the problem any time soon.
3rd quarter – A different ballgame…the Thunder scores somewhere around 34 points while the Spurs only score 18. Emotions are high among the fans, the announcers and her husband. “Well, I guess I’m NOT going to bed right now…” she hears him say. “This comeback is freaking amazing!!!” she says in her high-pitched squeal. Both settle into their chairs armed with adrenaline, claps to spare, coaching comments galore and plenty of caffeine. It was going to be a long night and the Diet Dr. Peppers were making a second round in the living room.
4th quarter – Anxiety is rushing through her veins as a lump begins to form in her throat. “If we keep this up, we could actually win this game” she began to admit to herself. “No – quit thinking that. You’ll jinx the game. What? You’re not going to jinx the game, silly!” An internal dialogue was clearly the result of a fan in her most nervous state possible. She looked about for anything to help with her undone emotions and grabs a bag of “Bigs Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sunflower Seeds.” She paced herself. There were still ten to fifteen seeds left with only one minute left in the game.
“I…just can’t believe this!” she thinks to herself while tears are rolling down her cheeks. Completely amazed and in a state of emotional flooding, she watched as Kendrick Perkins dunks the ball, the Spurs fumble a last ditch effort time-out, and the Oklahoma City Thunder WIN the Western Conference Finals. The awards ceremony bring more tears. By the time Kevin Durant’s face begins to crack as he hugs his mother, her body starts trembling as a full-blown bawl-session begins.
As the trophy is presented, her face is glowing and she feels as if she could fly. “It’s like church, and a big screen movie happy ending, and like real life yet complete make-believe and magic…all rolled into one,” she muses. She closes her laptop, kisses her husband good night, crawls into bed and thinks back through as many plays as she could remember. She looks at the alarm clock. It’s 11:30 p.m.
And she doesn’t care one bit.