We chatter. We discuss a play, or a moment, or a goal scored or not scored. Occasionally, someone will suggest asking a ridiculous question to break the tension. And then he enters the room.
He enters from a door at the back of the room and most of us orient ourselves in such a way as to see him the minute he enters, as if this first glimpse up close might tell us what his mood might be in. It’s not like he kicks the door in when he’s angry, or comes skipping in when he’s well-pleased. But we want that first look anyway.
He steps up onto the dias at the front of the room and, as we settle and click on recorders and phones we hold aloft, he unscrews the cap on his water bottle and takes a drink.
Someone asks something and he considers his answer, placing the cap back on the bottle and leaning in toward the microphone.
This is when we find out what mood he’s in.
I forget how lucky I am to get the chance to see behind the curtain. I wrote a few words, met a few people, and now I get this. I get to meet the coach of the opposing team before the game, although briefly, in the elevator. After the game, I’ll listen to a player talk lovingly about his kids. I see the stadium staff doing all the things that make gameday work.
But, somehow, I’ve lost my words. I’m trying to get them back, trying to recapture the balance that allowed me the opportunity to peek behind the curtain. And I’m grateful to all of you who’ve stuck with me as I’ve been quiet.