Last week, my wife and several of her friends planned a girls-only night out. Some of the boys responded likewise with a night out of our own.
I met up with one hell of a guy, Aaron Cohen. He was the planner, since his wife was among those in the group with my wife. He and I were the only ones in that situation; however, he invited several others along.
One of them was a friendly guy from Texas, who, if I recall correctly, works for Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). He sat next to me and we chatted over a beer and a cigar.
Of course, we talked about my job too.
"Man, if I could do that," he said, "I'd love to - watch sports all day long."
If it were only that simple, of course. I espoused a theory that came to me a few weeks ago, one that (I think) bridges the gap between what people think of my job and what my job actually is.
He had said earlier that he was originally from Texas, but was a huge N.Y. Giants fan and had an incredible dislike for the Dallas Cowboys. Later, he said he was planning on attending the Redskins' season finale on Dec. 30 against the Giants.
My theory to him was this: He's going to the game, presumably with a few friends, drink a few beers, have a good time and enjoy the game. Most people tend to think that's what we as sportswriters do too.
We have the first item in common, and that's about all.
It's an 8 p.m. kickoff, so I'll probably plan on being there by 6. (It's a Saturday, so normal rush-hour traffic is not as much of a concern.) I'll kill time by playing games on my cell phone; it's the only non-Sunday game in Week 17, so watching other games won't be an option.
When the game starts, I'll be taking notes after each play. Perhaps a theme will develop early, perhaps it won't. (I didn't have the lede for my last column until well after the game, and I thought that was one of the best pieces I've written in a long time.) I'll take bathroom and snack breaks during the action at my own peril.
And not writing something isn't an option. Since it's a night game, I'm not sure if I'll have to hustle to get something in before the end of the game or wait and do a second-day story. Either way, I'll have to find something.
Then I'll have to leave, wait in the ridiculously long line to get a bus back to our parking area (I may just shell out the $200 next year and buy a pass closer to the stadium) and then head home to see my wife, who will probably be asleep by then.
And that's what people don't get. I'm a homebody, and I'd love nothing better than to relax at home with my wife. When I'm working - even when it was at the Final Four - I miss out on that.
That's why I'm not sure if this is the right field for me. It's a job I like, certainly, but at what cost? (And I should say that there are many folks in this business with a lot tougher schedule than mine.) I like my time at home.
I've got two high school basketball games this week, and I'd rather be at home. I like my home life, after all.