Happy Father’s Day: Benny the “Mush”

For Father’s Day I bought my dad two books: Sniper One and Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper.  To call him a history and military buff would be an understatement.  It’s more of an obsession.  He can look at a weapon on TV and diagnose: who invented it, what its advantages are (for example, the M4 is used in Iraq because it’s small, allowing for better maneuverability in urban environments), how it’s loaded, and when it was first used. He watches two stations, the Military Channel and the USA Network so he can watch reruns of his favorite show N.C.I.S.  (His favorite character is Ziva because she’s from the Israeli Mossad.).  He’ll sit on the couch for hours calling out every weapon and tactic the military uses and how “they have a plane that on radar comes up as a seagull!” However, if I was to ask him, “Dad, who do you think the Eagles should pick up in free agency this year?” He’d answer, “Who?” For that, he has earned his title of “Benny the Mush.” Why; because the Sports Gods are vengeful.

Big Ben is 6’3” and 325 pounds of intimidating muscle.  He is covered in tattoos from head-to-toe but not in a way that makes it look overdone, it’s strange but it flows well (don’t tell my mother I said that) and it makes him unique and distinguishable from everyone else. His voice, as deep as James Earl Jones and as raspy as Louie Armstrong, can’t be described as talking but as barking.  He was a truck driver for 30 years and now works for the township where we live and he’ll let you know every chance he gets. “Chazz, I’ve been working for 37 years straight. No layoffs.” It’s commendable and rare, especially with the job market and fluctuations in the economy.  If I was 12 and I wrote this I’d say he’s the man who eats nails for breakfast with no milk and watches John Wayne movies because no is as manly as  “THE DUKE!” Hearing this description you would expect to hear stories of us sharing Sundays taking turns screaming at Andy Reid or buying ticket packages to go see the “Four Aces” take on the world, but that won’t happen because Big Ben doesn’t watch sports.

It’s a strange dynamic, especially since most of what my dad’s interests are didn’t rub off on me as much as it did on him.   I really only watch sports and movies (this week I’m dedicating a post to “Why Johnny Depp is Overrated.” Trust me, my argument’s too solid.).  Except for my friend Bean, none of my other friends understand what it’s like.  My friend Bobby has watched every Eagles game with his dad and if he’s at the game, calls every time they score a touchdown. It’s cheesy, but that’s what sports do.  Although it is basically a stereotype that all fathers and sons have to share sports experiences, it does have an aroma that can’t fulfilled by going to the movies or taking a trip to the beach.  But does it bother me? No, not at all because I watch enough for the both of us.  What bothers me is that I haven’t figured out a way of getting rid of his title as the “Mush.”

The balance of sports is delicate.  If it is broken, abused, or misused in any way then the Gods come with a vengeance that makes what Liam Neeson did in “Taken” look like nothing more than just a guy politely asking some people if he could have his daughter back. Big Ben is a textbook “Mush.” What specifically is a that? It has been applied to betting and sports but in short, a “Mush” is someone who ruins everything they are associated with.  For example, if a “Mush” attends a Phillies game, you might as well leave after the sixth inning because they are not going to win.  Any chance of a positive outcome for a situation you are striving for instantly becomes mush.  For a real life example, the Philadelphia Flyers finished last in the NHL in points in 2007. How? Big Ben took me to the Thrashers-Flyers game right before they went on that 10 game losing streak. It solidified his standing as a “Mush.”

What are the criteria for becoming a “Mush?”

  1. The most recent games you have watched have been overwhelmingly losses. Losing streaks happen, but absolute anarchy means there are higher spirits at work.
  2. A falsified interest in something.  If you didn’t watch the NBA Finals, don’t tell your coworkers, “I don’t understand why Erik Spoelstra won’t adjust his game plan.” The Sports Gods are intelligent; they take that as an insult.
  3. Denial. No one wants to be known as the “Mush” just like Johnny Depp doesn’t want to be known as “overrated.” But it’s the first step in recovery.  Accepting it allows the “Mush” to open up to the mercy of the Sports Gods (or in Johnny Depp’s case, accepting that he plays the same role in every movie.).

 Everyone has a “Mush” in their group and there isn’t anything less enjoyable than knowing your team has no chance.  It’s like hearing the ending of a movie you wanted to see badly.  Yeah you’ll like it, but what could’ve been a personal top 10 movie becomes as impactful as “Balls of Fury.” (For me, I’m talking “Black Swan” and “The Sixth Sense.”)  There are only a few ways to appease the Sports Gods and save your city and franchises from the curse of the “Mush.” The most effective way is sacrificing them by completely isolating them in any sports situation.  The Gods will not punish those who don’t watch.  Although it’s not recommended but tricking the Gods works also (but there is no data that it works in the long run).  The team the “Mush” roots for will lose so you this example as a guide. Remember, they are in denial so they think their rooting helps the team.

Mush: Who’s playing?

Fan: The Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants

Mush: Go Eagles!

Fan: *slyly* No! I bet on the Giants!

Mush: Oh, GO GIANTS!

Mission accomplished.

It is a lifelong fight, there are more “Benny the Mushes” than we let on.  It’s a crusade that sports fans will have to deal with forever.  There are ways to circumvent the “Mush” but one thing is for certain, it’s an undesirable title.  I am forever fighting an uphill battle because Big Ben has ACCEPTED his title so I forever have to trick the Sports Gods and sacrifice my standing with them in the afterlife.  If the Philadelphia Eagles win a Super Bowl during my lifetime, it was worth it. (Quick note, if you can’t think of a “Mush” in your group then uhm, you’re it.)

Happy Father’s Day, Dad, thank you for everything.

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