Darren Lockyer running out of the tunnel for the last time ever at Suncorp stadium to be greeted by 50,000 rabid Queenslanders dead-set losing their motherfucking MINDS? Yep, that'll do it.
Football! The direct emotional payoff! People pay good money for emotional explosions of this calibre!
So Locky fanned the flames of my emotional fires - made me cry, in other words. So, this was to be the first sign of trouble. I recognise this now.
As for Locky; well, you know that guy Jesus? And how he's rumoured to be returning any day now? Well that stadium full of people were going apeshit on a level that not even Jesus' much-talked-about return would garner. My mind is still subject to haunting, anueristic flashes of dozens of strobe-like images from the third Origin game and I expect they will stay with me for a good while yet - pain's funny like that - so I was unprepared for having my stuffing spilt all over the place and raked over by one Queenslander, let alone by 50,000 of the bastards going fucking bananas. The entire stadium was one big, heaving human seizure, such was their rapture. Obviously, since I enjoy the sight of of free and unadulterated public outpourings of football-based emotion, I found it to be a highly enjoyable and altogether satisfying spectacle. So much so that I joined in, as it were. From my couch. At 6:30 in the morning. And what a fine morning it was.
As the game wore on I grew terribly tense. This was curious. I have no emotional attachment to either team - unless you count actually disliking them both as emotional attachment, and I suppose there's a strong case for that - but in any case I was verging on the kind of mounting hysteria that causes good people to do bad things - set fire to their bedrooms, for instance, or hurl a car battery through their neighbour's window - that kind of thing. Curious.
In terms of the actual game, three things happened.
The first was that Jason Nightingale lost his shorts. Like, had the elastic ripped clean out of them. When he recovered from the tackle he realised this soon enough - by which I mean he tried to gather them up only for them to fall straight down. It was very vaudeville; moreso even when he stepped out of them and discarded them - just tossed them over the sideline and stood there free and easy in his navy jocks. It was fabulous. The crowd certainly thought so, because they went fucking ballistic for it. If it had been Ben Hornby in those nasty-ass flesh coloured Spanx; or anyone else who considers modesty and/or the possibility of chaff to be of greater concern that we the public's amusement and/or perviness it wouldn't have been nearly as notable. As it was the whole incident was highly notable. The channel Nine camera crew obviously concured because we were treated to several lingering replays while a trainer scurried over with a fresh pair of fully-elasticised shorts. The whole incident was as refreshing as an autumnal walk in the countryside and left me considering compiling an index - a dossier if you will - of players who still wear jocks.
The second thing that happened was that towards the end of the game, when it was getting very intense and fierce, Justin Hodges ran in and put a tackle on Josh Morris as he lay inert and twitching on the grass with a broken ankle, surrounded by a posse of concerned Dragons who had gathered to bear witness to his pain. Morris had folded like a lawn chair, in other words. Nevermind. Hodges cares not for small matters of injury and decency. Which is nice.
The third thing was that Locky done did got his face all broked up about fifteen minutes out from the end and PAYED ON - INTO GOLDEN POINT NO LESS - AND BOOTED THE FIELD GOAL THAT WON THE BRONCOS THE GAME. Astonishing. I believe that it was a potent demonstration of those things they call guts and courage, although I can't be sure since terminal overuse of such terms has rendered them kind of null and void.
I've never received a flying knee to the face, but this one time I stubbed my toe and found the pain to be so great that I promptly passed out, which was foolish of me because if it was relief that my body was seeking it was unlikely to be found by striking the back of my head against a floor paved with river-rocks. In light of my inherent wimpiness I find the fact that Locky came to, waved away the trainers gathered over him with no small amount of irritation, clambered to his feet and kept playing - pausing periodically to push his loosely flapping and rapidly swelling jaw back up in the general direction of THE REST OF HIS FACE to be all the more astonishing.
More so afterwards; when I find out that he was whisked away to have three titanium plates put into his face, which by all accounts currently mirrors the appearance of a smashed crab. And even more so when I read that he has already pooh-poohed the medical advice warning him of the possibility of losing his eyesight by taking the field on Friday by declaring quote "I WILL PLAY" unquote.
That sound you hear right now, like an opera overture? That's Locky's performance gaining mythical proportions and going straight down into NRL folklore. And that swelling in your throat? That's that direct emotional payoff I was talking about earlier - not bad, huh?