Monday, 3 October 2011

Off Season:Off Rocker - join the dots.

Greetings, friends. Welcome to the abyss. That certain haunted quality you see in the eyes around you and, worse, the two reflected in the mirror? This is what comes of looking into the face of something horrible - THIS IS WHAT THE OFF-SEASON LOOKS LIKE. Don't be alarmed. Stick with me, and together we will familiarise ourselves with some of the symptoms and sensations you are likely to experience. For those of you who already know not of what I speak of, I hate you. I also demand that you leave and go be functional someplace else. ToddBlog is no place for the well-adjusted.

Okay. Lets proceed.

You may now be recognising the grinding monotony of life without football, i.e. life devoid of weekly displays of heaving, unbridled masculinity punctuated by explosions of violence - and finding it completely unacceptable. I know you are, honey, I know you are.

You may be finding yourself bereft of a sense of purpose. Aimless, loose-ended, potentially lethal. You're not alone. We will know each other by the yellows of our eyes and the whites of our knuckles.

You may be reflecting retrospectively on your team's season with a roughly 70/30 ratio of artery-swelling, throat-gulping pride and simmering dissatisfaction and resentment - bearing in mind that this is a sliding scale that very much takes into account ladder position, off-field and back-room shenanigans, coaching ineptitude (hey Furner, whatup fool?) season-spanning injuries (Terry Campese, word) and the like. Brace yourself. This can be a long and complicated process spanning the entire summer. Fortify your rage - because there will be rage - with a series of stiff drinks. This will allow you to take charge of your grievances as they arise; then master them, lay them to rest and move on. Ideally. Individual results may vary.

You may be shuffling around saying "bum a light?" to strangers in the streets and you don't even smoke. You may still be subject to unannounced and aneurism-inducing flashbacks of Paul Gallan's Origin heroics at the most unlikely and inappropriate of times - and if you're not then your behaviour troubles me, frankly. You may be contemplating the long run of gloom known as the off-season and thinking that perhaps a boyfriend could be a good way to fill the next few months. You may be feeling very fragmented and irritable and when people call you out on this you may be liable to bark "LOOK I'M GOING THROUGH A PERIOD OF SERIOUS MENTAL READJUSTMENT OKAY?!" into their faces from very close range.

You should be thinking of all the exotic and unknowable promise that next season holds, and reveling in the romance of the slight rushes of blood to the head and heart that this inevitably triggers. When it gets especially grim you should roll a little reel in your head of Johnathan Thurston laughing that remarkable, full-faced laugh of his, or go one better and remind yourself of his eyes and the bad things they do to you. You may find yourself investing heavily in the Australian Open. This is perfectly acceptable. Fact: Male tennis players are really, really good looking nowadays. Embrace it.

You may now find yourself unwittingly taking your problems back to their actual source, and consequently finding that the source is usually yourself. After spending many months blaming, say, Matt Orford for all the ills of the world this can be distressingly confronting. Ride it out. The off-season has long been the time when our weaknesses and deprivations are starkly revealed. To what end is entirely up to you.

Of course, there is also the very real possibility that you may not be going through any of this. I've heard rumours that well-balanced individuals whose highly capable and rational minds don't snag on and then give themselves over entirely to certain thoughts or things or themes actually do exist. Well, good for them. And by 'good for them' obviously I mean 'those bastards will get theirs soon enough'.

Ultimately, know that the football-shaped void within cannot be filled. Paper over it as best you can - barbeques, party drugs, summer fruits, the cricket, whatever works - and I'll see you on the Other Side. In other words, if anyone needs me prior to March 2012 I'll be in my bedroom, rocking.

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