Like Paul and Ryan before me, I find I'm a little embarrassed to step onto the Cincy Jungle stage and introduce myself, particularly since I’m not normally one to send my voice out into the ether of the interwebs. So let me begin to explain my interest in the Bad News Bengals the most effective way I can, through contrast:
One of our most innate human tendencies -- one of the burdens of self-consciousness -- is what psychologists refer to as counterfactual thinking. This is when one ponders how their life might have turned out if only certain things had happened another way. As I suspect many of you do, I often think about what my life would be like if I hadn’t become entangled in this emotionally abusive, Ike-and-Tina-Turneresque relationship with the Bengals.I imagine that in some alternate world I’m a Patriots fan. I know my team will make the most prescient personnel choices; I like my hot dogs served in sandwich bread; I only fret about the structural integrity of Tom Brady’s knees. Or better yet, in my best possible world I’ve reached some nirvana-like state of contentment where I don’t attempt to shore up my ego by attributing excessive value to men successfully moving around an oblong ball.
Then again, those worlds seem somehow less interesting than my life as a Bengals fan (enlightenment’s so over). Maybe it’s Stockholm syndrome, but I’ve come to identify with this team. I stomp around kicking kittens when they lose. I’ve disillusioned girlfriends when I try to communicate with the offensive line by banging out Morse code on the side of the TV. And in true Pollyanna fashion, I believe they can win despite Darth Brown.
In fact, one of my earliest grainy memories is of watching the Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII (if only my father hadn’t turned on that TV!). Maybe it was the cartoonish appeal of their uniforms, but I was drawn to the team, and I think that has indefinably shaped the person I now am (as poet William Wordsworth put it, "the Child is the father of the Man"). But growing up in western New York I didn’t get to see the Bengals much. I became a Buffalo fan in absentia. And then -- understandably, I think -- I stopped watching football all together. But Cincinnati was always my team, and the Marvin Lewis Era renewed my hope. Then I moved to Ohio for school (did I choose proximity?) and it was Xanadu: the Cincinnati club was playing handegg on the picture box every winter!
So while I stumble through a graduate program at THE Ohio State University, I continue to entwine my life with the fate of this team. And now here I am, writing about them. I’d like to thank Josh and Jason for giving me the opportunity to do so. I’d also like to thank all of you for reading. Who Dey!
p.s. I’m also an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, so to my new colleague Ryan and all the other haters: child please.