The giddying early-season flush of Austen-esque Raider romance has reformulated itself into steely-eyed irritation and associated urges to head out on weekly stabbing sprees.
What is particularly galling about this is that the person who should be crumbling, sobbing, into a ball of recrimination and self-loathing (coach Furner) is not. He continues to sail along blithely, with no regard for my shredded nerves and the unpleasant gloom that has taken root like fungus on my soul.
Speaking of fungus and unpleasantness, a hygiene related boil virus is going through the Raiders camp right now. My brother tells me this is the second outbreak to sweep the club in the last several years. He also tells me with a good deal of severity that this is a sign of a fundamentally unprofessional and deeply flawed club.
He’s right. The club has an image problem, a coach problem, an injury-rate problem, a recruitment problem, a completing-sets problem and a hygiene problem.
Once I discovered this mysterious, sinister lesion on one of my butt cheeks. I was in a third world country; I thought it was Japanese impetigo. I thought if the government got wind of my dangerous and contagious lesion I would be seized upon re-entry to Australia and quarantined like a dog. None of this happened, and after ten or twelve weeks the lesion eventually stopped festering and faded out. My point is that certain things – unsanitary behaviours and viruses and such, are permissible and even expected in far flung places where running water is scarce and goiters are many. I know it’s a nowhere place full of nowhere people that feels for all the world like it’s in the middle of fucking nowhere, but Canberra’s entire existence is based on its proximity to Melbourne and Sydney: IT IS NOT FAR FLUNG.
Anyway. I’m fatigued. The third-world hygiene problems sweeping the Raiders only add to my funk. I am burning out, sailing on exhausted, mid-season seas.
Occasionally I am seized with an irritable envy for the excitement that Storm or Bronco or Bulldog supporters must be feeling as their teams put down roots at the top of the ladder. Or for the enchantment of possibility that Cowboy or Shark supporters must be experiencing, even as their teams are inevitably ground down by the wheels of the world in the coming months.
But then… My friend sent a text during that Cowboys Raiders rubbish last weekend that perfectly encapsulates the existential angst underpinning the very act of supporting the Raiders: “I try to be a good person…what have I done to deserve this? Buddha was right – life is suffering. Especially if you’re a Faders fan…..” … and this reminds me that my suffering allows me feelings of lofty, martyr-like superiority.
My God, this must be how religious zealots feel. I find this realisation a trifle unsettling.
Speaking of suffering, Josh Dugan busted his ankle at the end of the Cowboys match. It put a macabre flourish on the whole sorry evening. It was tropical Townsville but it was as grim as late 80s Warsaw.