Monthly Archives: March 2014

Bill, I’m sorry

Dear Bill Simmons:


I’m sorry I wrote you out of my life last week. I want to take it back. I know how cheesy this all must sound, me, making a big, dramatic farewell speech to you and then undoing it a week later. Because I know, everybody keeps telling me I have to make decisions and stick to them. When I was writing out that goodbye, tears streaming down my face, snot running down my nose, when I was in between sobs I recognized that, regardless of how much it hurts, I have to close this chapter of my life. Once I do this, there’s no going back.

And I tried, Bill. I really tried to put you out of my head. But I kept clicking on the Grantland home page. I’d turn around at work and the TV above the bar would be showing a clip of you talking on ESPN. I couldn’t hear what you were talking about, because all of the TVs are muted, and I don’t get why restaurants bother to have TVs on, if they’re just going to show a bunch of guys silently yapping away, without even the benefit of subtitles to give you the option of reading what the conversation might be about.

Anyway, it was a rough week. It felt similar to when my grandfather died a few years back. That sting of emptiness, the palpable sense of loss. Only, with my grandfather, I started to feel better after a few days, coming to terms with the inevitability of death, getting a small taste of my own mortality. With you it was different. Each day that passed since I told you we were through, the level of pain intensified.

I started waking up in the middle of the night crippled with regret. I kept reading and rereading my last letter to you. Why would I do something so stupid? Who gives up on a one-way correspondence with the Sports Guy after only two months? Bill, I realize that I’ve made a huge mistake, and if you’re willing to look past my very momentary lapse in judgment, I’d like to pick up where we left off: me, writing you a letter each week, begging you for a job, and you, blissfully unaware of my existence, hopefully one day stumbling upon this treasure trove of writing, you’ll be so overcome by my persistence, my faith in a dream, you’ll blurt out at your desk, “Hire this man!”

And your secretary will walk in and ask you, “Mr. Simmons, did you just say something? I was down the hall pouring a cup of coffee when we all heard you say something pretty loudly.” And that’ll kind of jolt you back to reality. You’ll explain that you were talking about me, this web site, the letters. Do it Bill, hire me to write for Grantland.

I really am sorry about last week. I hope that you can forgive me. Again, your feelings of confusion, frustration, and eventual forgiveness might be a little disjointed, depending on when you discover all of this, and in what order you decide to read these letters, if you read any of them at all. I guess it’s a little arrogant of me to assume you’ll have time for all of them. Maybe you’ll skip last week’s mistake and you won’t know what I’m talking about. Or maybe you’ll jump right to this week’s apology, and I’ll only have served to point you in the direction of that mistake. If I could just keep my mouth shut and stop talking about it for a second, perhaps we could both move on, pretend like it never happened.

I wish I could just go back and delete it. Well, I guess I could. But then what if you look at the whole list of letters and notice a gap where last week’s should have been? You’ll either think that I’m a slacker, not committed to my craft, or worse, you’ll assume that I have something to hide, which I kind of do. I don’t know what to do. Maybe I should just write some generic sounding letter and put it where last week’s letter was.

OK, I think I might be over-thinking this. Bill, I’m sorry I abandoned you. It’ll never happen again. That’s a promise. I don’t care if I ever get a job at Grantland, I’ll still write to you every week, begging. Please, let me write for Grantland. Come on Bill, give me a job. I’ll write about anything you want. Anything.

I’m really, really, really, really sorry,

Rob G.

Sealed with a lick

You know what’s disgusting? Licking envelopes to seal them shut. Who came up with such a gross way of performing a ridiculously mundane task? It’s a good thing that we rarely send out actual mail anymore, because I can’t imagine living twenty or thirty years ago, having to take care of actual correspondence with physical papers, being forced to lick a strip of glue just to seal my envelopes shut.


And stamps too. You used to have to lick stamps. I’m getting physically ill just thinking about all of this licking going on. Here, I’m going to send you a letter. Lick. Lick. Why do so many bodily fluids have to be involved? It’s like, sticker technology has been around for a while. How much cheaper or more efficient was it really, instead of printing stamps and envelopes with a layer of sticker, to manufacture them with a thin strip of yellow glue?

How did that meeting go down where they decided on the first generation of lick-it envelopes? “Hey everybody, I’ve got a great idea for a new type of envelope. We’ll somehow get some glue and dry it right on the flap. When you want to close it, you just take your tongue and moisten everything up with your own spit. Then you mail your letter and your spit to wherever it’s supposed to go.”

I can’t understand how such a boneheaded idea not only made it past the drawing board, but actually became the standard for both envelopes and stamps. It’s like, everybody remembers doing it, and you’d get that nasty glue taste in your mouth afterward. You know what that tastes like? It tastes like glue. It’s fucking chemicals that you’re putting in your mouth, and then you swallow them. Nasty.

Like I said, this generation is beyond fortunate that we don’t have to deal with such antiquated technology. But it’s still around. Once every five years or so, I run out of envelopes, and so I have to put on my jacket and walk over to Rite Aid to buy another twenty-five pack. Usually it’s no big deal, like I said, the glue standard is thankfully no longer the standard. They’ve got these adhesive strips that automatically stick, so there’s no need to have a make-out session with a piece of paper.

But the last time I went, I accidentally brought home some of the old-fashioned relics. How did this happen? Did a case of glue envelopes get lost somewhere in the back, and now they were like, whatever, just sell them, like they’re just regular envelopes? I went back to demand a refund, but when it was my turn at the register, I realized that the whole pack only cost like fifty-seven cents, and so while I was still super pissed off, I didn’t really feel like getting into it with a cashier that probably had no idea that we ever had to live with such primitive pieces of paper in the first place.

It just goes counter to everything we’re taught as human beings. “Honey, don’t put that in your mouth,” our parents are telling us from an early age. Don’t lick the walls. Stop trying to put your tongue inside the electric socket. Stop eating dirt. But then it’s like, here, let me show you how to send a letter. Just lick, lick, lick, the more spit the better, and then share all of your slimy germs throughout the entire US Postal Service.”

Now I’m just really pissed off. I can’t even say anything that I haven’t already said. But I can think of like a million better ways to close envelopes. Tape. That’s much better. Glue sticks. Why couldn’t they just use glue sticks? Staples. Stickers. Melted wax. Come on, why did it have to be spit-glue? Half glue, half spit. One hundred percent disgusting.

Man, I didn’t expect to get this fired up. I’m just so surprised that the previous generation was so dumb. Thanks for the looming debt crisis. And years of inherited political gridlock. And climate change. Also, stamps and envelopes. You don’t go around licking random pieces of paper with glue on them. Period. Yuck.

Grass-fed beef

The other day at work, one of the customers asked me about our hamburgers, specifically about the cows the meat came from. “Are they grass fed?”


“Yes,” I told her, immediately. My answer surprised me. It was one of those instances where my mouth acted totally independently from the rest of my body. As soon as I answered in the affirmative, I came to terms with what happened, which was, a word escaped my mouth that had no business being spoken in the first place.

Because the real answer should have been, “I’m not sure about that. I can find out for you if you like.” But no, in that split second before I had a chance to start a thought process that would involve me explaining my lack of knowledge of the hamburger’s potential grass diet, my tongue and my lips decided to ambush the chain of command. I just said yes, so much easier than having to force a whole dialogue, finding a boss, asking if the cows ate grass.

Maybe my mouth has its own brain, maybe it thought out what that conversation might have looked like. Me, walking over to the kitchen manager, the guy multitasking at the window, processing orders coming in, constantly moving, talking to the chefs, garnishing the finished products, I’d interrupt him with a question, “Hey, uh, boss, uh … are the hamburgers made out of grass-fed beef?”

And he’d look at me, only for a second though, because he really does have a lot going on. But he’d only need a second, to give me a look of both confusion and anger, like, are you seriously coming to me with this bullshit right now? The most diplomatic thing he would do is to tell me to ask someone else. So I’d have to hunt around the kitchen, everybody moving, busy, too busy for crazy questions about grass.

Or maybe he would know. I guess I shouldn’t rush to judgment, just assume the answers to questions I myself don’t even know the answers to. It’s a little arrogant to think that this question is completely unanswerable. There has to be a diet these cows were being fed, and maybe it was grass, and maybe the kitchen manager knew.

But it didn’t matter, because I had already told this lady that, yes, they were grass fed. I briefly considered walking back from my impulse response, something like, “Wait, I don’t know why I said that, I apologize. I’m actually not sure. Let me go find out for you.” In retrospect, yes, that’s exactly how I should have handled it.

But again, I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t even have time to consider my answers. And besides, the minute I said yes, this lady’s face lit up. It was an expression of genuine pleasure. Whatever was going on in my head, there was something equally powerful at work inside of hers. It was like she was picturing herself on the farm, all of the cows were eating as much grass as they wanted. And in between bites, they looked up to her, they said, “Moo! Thank you for only buying grass-fed beef. Our lives are so much better than our grain-fed cousins. And it’s all thanks to you!”

She repeated, “Really? Grass-fed beef?” And I was locked into my decision. My head nodded up and down, “Yes, grass-fed. And we grind the meat here.” Which was true, we do grind our own hamburgers. Hopefully just by throwing out additional information, I was somewhat elevating the overall truth of the entire conversation, like if you look back at everything I told her, you’d say, well, he only made up about ten percent of the information. So I started talking about the seasoning, all of the stuff about which I was positive.

She ordered the burger, and I did the only thing I thought would have avoided any potential problems: I passed off the check to another server, and I steered clear of that section of the restaurant until she left, crossing my fingers the whole time, hoping that she wouldn’t bring up the whole grass thing to anybody else.

And, as far as I know anyway, I got away with. In fact, maybe those cows are grass-fed. After writing this whole thing out, I’m realizing that I never bothered to follow up with anybody. I could have waited until the dinner rush died down, looked for the kitchen manager when he appeared not to be juggling twelve tasks, “Hey boss, I’m just curious, do we serve grass-fed beef?”

But I don’t know. And I don’t know why sometimes I can’t just say that I don’t know. I’ve got to stand there and make up easy answers, just lying to people’s faces.

Workplace diplomacy

You have no idea what kind of lunatics I have to deal with at work. The other day Maggie, one of my coworkers, she comes busting into my office, she’s like, “Rob, you know, if you’re not going to make any ice cubes, it’d be nice if you didn’t use them all. OK? Because now there’s no ice. So thanks a lot.”


And yeah, I did take all of the ice cubes, but just the way she came at me, like no knocking, and no, I wasn’t on the phone or anything, but I was in the middle of reading something, I was on the Internet. And she’s all like yelling and pointing, she’s holding a can of Diet Coke in one hand and an empty glass in the other, like look Rob, Diet Coke, glass, no ice. Thanks a lot.

Sure, I could have been a little more diplomatic about everything, right, I told HR that I’d do my best to handle office situations like this a little bit more diplomatically, that’s what the letter that they made me sign said, I just remember that word, diplomatically, like I’m an office diplomat. But I lost it, I said, “Maggie, what the hell’s your problem?” and she kind of smiled, because yeah, I came out swinging, I said “hell” which isn’t very diplomatic, and so I could just tell she was already filling out the official complaint in her head, “And he was cursing,” and then I’d have to write out my own counter-complain, explaining how technically “hell” isn’t a curse, even though, yes, it is all about context, and no, I shouldn’t have said that.

But I was already knee deep in, and so I pushed ahead. “One, what are you, in charge of the ice?” And she was like, “Yeah, I filled up the ice tray this morning. Now there’s none left.” At this point she pointed to my desk. I had a huge glass of ice, which, whatever, yes, I used all of the ice. And this I admitted, albeit not very diplomatically.

“I’m sorry,” I told Maggie, “I didn’t know it was your ice. I thought it was the office’s ice. OK, and I filled up the tray with water after I was done. Why don’t you just come back in a couple of hours and you’ll have all the ice you want?” and she shot right back, “Well how about next time, you save some ice for the rest of us, especially considering you weren’t the one who filled it up this morning, I did, because I was planning on having an ice cold Diet Coke right about now. And now I can’t. Because you took all of the goddamn ice.”

Now I smiled back, I was already mentally adding on my future report to HR, that not only is “hell” not a curse, but if it is, then maybe you should talk to Maggie about cursing, because she told me “goddamn.” “Maggie, where’d you get that Diet Coke, from the office kitchen?”

“Yeah? So?” she said. “Well, it’s from the fridge right? It’s still cold. I don’t understand what you’re complaining about. Why don’t you just chill the f out …” shit, I shouldn’t have said f. Even though I didn’t say “fuck,” I only said f. There’s a lot of room for her to make it look like I said “fuck” and this was potentially a problem, because I could just see my response to HR, in my head, there was no way of phrasing a defense without writing out, “f,” or even, “fuck,” no, just “f.” Still. That was sloppy.

She smiled, “Well you know what? I filled up the ice. OK? And who are you to talk about ice cold soda? You’re telling me to drink it from the can, but you’ve got an ice cold Coke right next to a glass of ice. Don’t you think that’s maybe a little hypocritical?”

It’s true, I was using a full glass for my own refrigerated Coke. I like pouring just a sip, and then I drink it, and then another. Each drop perfectly chilled without being diluted. But I was on the ropes now, I didn’t have time for any concessions. “Look, it’s ice OK? It doesn’t matter who fills it up, and even though I’m grateful that you replenished the tray …”

“Bullshit you’re grateful.”

Bingo. I continued, “Even though I’m grateful, I didn’t think I had to ask everybody in the office if I could take some ice. Do you go around asking people who replaced the toilet paper in the bathroom? Huh? You want to get into that time I saw you not refill paper tray two on the annex printer with fresh paper? Remember that?”

And Maggie just looked at me, I was smiling, we were even for curses, and she said, “You know what Rob? Go fuck yourself, asshole.” And she stormed out.

I thought, ha, talk about a win. And I’d be the bigger person here. I had the cold drink. I didn’t see the need to involve HR.

But then ten minutes later I thought, you know what? Fuck Maggie. And I opened a new Word document and told HR all about how Maggie stormed into my office and told me to go fuck myself. I hope she gets fired.

Enough with St. Patrick’s Day

I don’t know, the more I think about St. Patrick, the more I think he’s undeserving of such a big holiday. It’s like Christopher Columbus, only worse, OK maybe not worse, but just as bad. It’s like, this guy comes over from Europe to Ireland, and what does he do? He starts bossing everybody around, telling them to abandon their religious beliefs. Wouldn’t you be a little pissed off if some guy fell off a ship and told you to start changing your life around?


And he destroyed the local ecosystem. The snakes, the frogs, he decimated an entire population of native animals. Who knows what kind of damage that did to Ireland’s environment? History talks about it like it’s a good thing, but does anybody ever think about why the Irish people got so dependent on the potato? Maybe, after St. Patrick had his way terraforming the entire island, nothing else could grow. And so it was just potatoes. And then there was a famine. I’m not saying he caused the Potato Famine on purpose, but whatever, maybe if the snakes were still alive, they would’ve had something to do with the whole circle of life and food chain or whatever.

I’m just saying, it’s like I go to get a bagel on St. Patrick’s day, just a regular breakfast on what should be a regular workday, but no, the bagel store decides it’s got to put green food dye in all of the dough. I don’t want to eat a green bagel. Nor do I want to drink a green beer. Shamrock Shakes are OK, but only because mint is green, and so the color fits the flavor profile. But come on, this guy’s been dead for hundreds of years now, why does he still have such a huge influence on the color of our food on March 17th?

And enough with the green clothing. If I don’t wear green on Monday, everybody’s going to think I’m some sort of a party pooper. But green’s just not a very flattering color. For me, anyway. Maybe you look great in green. I doubt it, but I’m not a fashionista, so I can’t really comment on what’s trending with popular styles. All I know is, I see someone wearing a green turtleneck sweater, I automatically assume, OK, JCPenny is going out of business and they’ve got a ton of merchandise, everything must go, right now.

And what about leprechauns? Let’s go back to the whole religion thing for a second. And I’m not trying to make an argument for or against any particular faith, but I’d like to point out some inconsistencies. First, Patrick tells the Druids that their pagan practices aren’t OK. Fine. Yet for some reason we’re supposed to turn a blind eye toward magical little Irish dwarves? And what about all of that alleged Irish good luck? It all reeks of paganism right there. Hey Ireland, either deny that it exists once and for all, or embrace some of the pre-Patrick old ways.

Finally, in focusing all of our attention on St. Patrick, we’re ignoring the other Saints that celebrate their feast day on March 17th. I’m looking at you, St. Alexius of Rome. Here’s a classic riches to rags story, which, after some very brief research on Wikipedia, I’m also seeing that he one time spent seventeen days in a cubbyhole teaching scripture to little kids … OK, and then when he died, he had writing appear all over his body …

OK, I’m not claiming to understand what’s going on here, but I’ll never be able to. Not with one hundred percent of the attention given to St. Patrick. It’s all a little too much, and I’m confident that if he were around today, Patrick would be the first to demand that we stop celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Because if he didn’t, well, it would just be totally weird, a person reveling in way too much of the spotlight.

I say we just cool it. I’m wearing blue today. Maybe red. No, definitely blue. And I’m going to get a Shamrock Shake, but only because they’re delicious, and McDonald’s stops selling them after today. But I’m not going to say Shamrock Shake, I’m going to ask for, “one of those green minty shakes you guys always make this time of year.” And if the cashier says, “The Shamrock Shake?” I’ll just be like, “Whatever, I don’t care what you call it, just hand it over.”