Anyone remotely informed about the NFL is aware the Cleveland Browns have been in a losing streak for over a generation.
Since the team last won a championship some 55 years ago, it’s been a real downer for Dawg Pound fans. This includes someone I know very well; an individual with whom I have cohabitated for nearly the same length of time.
Browns fans, my husband among them, are born and bred into loyalty-bound roles as true Clevelanders. No matter the outcome of an unlucky draft, a lousy game, a bad trade and/or a wasted season, they hang in there, always leaning on the hope that next year will be better.
The faithful endure a lot of ribbing, which the world takes perpetual pleasure in laughing at.
Such a scenario forces these uncommon fans to live incognito, struggling to deal with reality.
Beginning every September at our house, Sunday afternoons grow into long frustrating sessions of misery, punctuated by strife and frustration. A lifelong Browns sufferer, my husband tensely grips the arms of his easy chair, hollering first at the quarterback, then the receiver, tight end, linebackers and finally the coach.
During these episodes I dash from window to window, closing out warm fall breezes to hold in the uproar.
Eventually, I just can’t stand the stress, so I leave.
All of this brings me to the latest in my husband’s fandom.
The other night when sitting a spell after dinner, he turned to me with this confession: “I was bad today.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I let the meat man have it.”
“What do you mean you let the meat man have it?”
It was then his story began….
Evidently for years, the meat man, a Steelers fan, has been mocking the Browns every time he sees Brian. Well, now the tide is finally beginning to turn for the Browns with recent acquisitions of General Manager John Dorsey, Head Coach Freddie Kitchens, Quarterback Baker Mayfield and standout players Beckham, Hunt, Garret, Ward, Landry, Chub, among others.
Cavalierly ticking off details of his unlikely tiff, my husband went on to justify his bad behavior.
“When I saw him behind the counter, I leaned over it, warning in a low serious voice to look out! The Browns are going to take down his Steelers this year and we’re going to talk about it many times – you and me.”
“You said it in that tone?” I asked in disbelief, wondering if I needed to start limiting his outings.
“Yeah, just like that.”
“Did he call the police?”
During a brief period of silence that followed, I envisioned the cops handcuffing and hauling my Browns fan out of the grocery store.
“Seriously, Honey, don’t make me bail you out of jail for hurling threats at the meatman.”
Feeling contrite, he continued to listen to what I had to say.
“You need to lighten up,” I cautioned. “Remember, it’s only a game.”
Brian remained quiet, so I thought it would be a good idea to tell him some Browns jokes.
“What’s the difference between the Cleveland Browns and a dollar bill? You can still get four quarters out of a dollar bill.”
My husband didn’t respond.
“I took our broken vacuum cleaner back to the store. They put a Browns jersey on it and now it really sucks.”
He wasn’t laughing.
Telling just one more…
“What do the Cleveland Browns and possums have in common? Both play dead at home and get killed on the road!”
Still no response.
(Oh, well, as he always says, it’ll be better next season.)
Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning writer whose columns appear weekly in regional newspapers in the Upper Midwest. Over the years, the author’s works have garnered top honors, including her creative non-fiction chapbook “Look. Don’t Look.” – garnering First Place in the National Federation of Press Women’s 2017 writing competition. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.