Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Steve's wedding: The aftermath

Sunday, October 21, 2007
Kahului International Airport, Maui, Hawaii

I've flown across the country lots of times. It gets easy after awhile: Do some work for a couple of hours, knock out a few crossword puzzles, watch a movie, take a nap, and you're there. But none of that prepared me for flying to Hawaii.

It's five hours from Boston to LA, and another five from LA to Hawaii. It's like flying across the country and back again all in one day.

In Hawaii, every local clock, as well as the position of the sun, tells us it is 3 in the afternoon, but our bodies are telling us it is 8:00 at night, and that we should be getting ready for bed. We should be fine tomorrow, as long as we keep ourselves awake for the next six or seven hours. Somehow.

After stepping off the plane, it takes us about 45 seconds to get Hawaii-fied. We deplane and walk 50 feet, turning left onto a long hallway with a floor-to-ceiling picture window, and I stop dead in my tracks as I look through it. To those who live in Hawaii, it's nothing. To me, it's a Rembrandt or a Van Gogh, a work of art burned in my memory forever.

Two palm trees stand side by side, bent slightly to one side as if curved by the wind. Behind them is a hulking mass of black rock the size of a strip mall. The sky is cartoon blue, a shade we might see in Boston once or twice a year, when the pollution takes a day off.

I used to think we flew halfway around the world, but that's obviously not true. Clearly, we've flown to another planet entirely, where no one stresses about the weather, because it's gorgeous every day. In fact, I bet no one stresses about anything here, because it simply doesn't make sense.

"...just gonna stand here all day?" Tim is asking.


"Let's go get our luggage! I can't wait to see the hotel!" she chirps.

Makena Beach, Maui

I'm unprepared for the view. The horizon stretches endlessly from east to west--an uninterrupted meeting of sky and water so profound that suddenly, I can comprehend my place on earth, the overwhelming hugeness of the planet and everything beyond it.

Warm waves splash against my feet then retreat back, scurrying away from me like shy children. The sand is...cleaner here, softer, less rocky than I am used to, and the water melts it away around me until I find myself buried ankle deep in it.

Tim and I find a spot above the tide and sit, me leaning back against my elbows, her sitting between my knees, watching as the sky burns pink and orange and the sun slowly disappears into the ocean.

"I'm tired," she says.

"Don't go to sleep, hon. It's too early!"

"I won't."

Neither will I.

Makena Beach

"Shit! We fell asleep!" Tim says.

So much for beating jet lag.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Steve's wedding: the duringmath, concluded

"It is truly an honor for me to introduce to you for the very first time as husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Steve Caruso!"

Most people don't get applauded very often, and it is quite a rush. Kind of strange, too, since we didn't do anything particularly unusual.

Up until a week ago, our wedding song was going to be "Have I Told You Lately" by Van Morrison, but "Bubbly" by Colbie Caillat took a late lead, and we decided to go with it at the last minute. The tempo is odd and hard to dance to, but we aren't interested in much besides whispering to each other and swaying slowly, anyway.

The rest of the bridal party joins us on the dance floor. As the song ends, I feel a hand on my shoulder and turn around.

"You're my best friend," Paulie says, and I hug him back without looking him in the eyes, because I am sure he's sobbing like a kid going off to his first day of Kindergarten.

He lets go of me and hugs Tim, and I hug them both, and pretty soon it's the biggest group hug you've ever seen, right in the middle of the dance floor. Today, there is no family drama, no fighting, just lots of love all around.

Chris takes the microphone for a toast. "Steve and Tim are one of those couples that you root for, the way you root for a favorite team," he says. "We all noticed a change in Steve when he and Tim started dating. You could see how crazy they were about each other, even when they were saying, 'Ohh, we're taking it slow, it's nothing serious.'

"I speak for everyone in the family when I tell you, there were a lot of people praying for this. And today, Steve and Tim's wishes came true, and ours did too.

"I love you both, and I wish you a lifetime of happiness."

I get up and hug Chris when he is done, and laugh to myself as I think about the day not so long ago when I kicked his ass and put him in the hospital. It seems like a million miles away now; I feel as close to him as a brother can be.


"I'd like to call your attention to the dance floor," the DJ says, "where the bride and groom have a surprise for us!"

People look up from their salads, then exchange curious glances. Tim has changed out of her wedding dress and into a slinky white one with a long slit up the side.

Before anyone knows what to make of it, the music starts and Tim and I are tangoing feverishly across the floor, amid hoots and hollers.

The tango was my idea. I suggested it months ago, and Tim loved the idea, so we hired a choreographer. Week after week, we practiced pretty much daily until we could do the dance in our sleep. Mindy told us that was the goal, to be able to go from start to finish without thinking about the next move.

We've had tons of practice, yes, but it's not nearly the same as doing it for an audience. The adrenaline is flowing, the spins are easier, our feet move faster, and we have to fight to keep from getting ahead of the music.

The song ends, we take a bow, and every guest is out of their seat, applauding thunderously. We bow again, and the applause gets louder before finally fading. Mindy said there would be a huge ovation. Guess she was right.

The dance is the one thing we hear about most for the rest of the night. Even now, weeks later, people still mention it to us. It just goes to show you: It doesn't really matter where the wedding is, or what you had for dinner. It matters who was there, and what happened.


The limo is supposed to pick us up at 4:30 and take us to the hotel. That's only about a half hour from now.

People always talk about wedding night sex like it's a big deal. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm starting to wonder if I'm going to be fuck-ready tonight at all. I am exhausted.

We agreed not to do it for a full week before the wedding, to build a little sexual tension. We usually go at it once a day, sometimes twice, so at this point, I am ready to burst. But having the wedding stress off my shoulders is such a relief that eight hours of sleep might just make me come.

"Hey everyone," Tim says over the speakers, and I look to the front of the room, where she stands holding the mic. "I'm trying really hard not to be corny, but I'm very bad at this..."

What is she doing?

"I just want to say that I've been through a lot in the past couple of years, my surgery, getting a new job, moving, and it was pretty stressful, and I feel so lucky that Steve was there to help me every step of the way.

"Steve, I'm very sure I would not have made it through in one piece without you, and I'm so lucky to have you. You are the most caring, supportive person that I have ever known. I love you more than words can possibly say, and thank you for making me the happiest wife in the whole world."

She pauses as the "Awwwww"s subside.

"The night that Steve and I first met--and please, don't get the wrong idea about this--but I was on a date with another guy."

She pauses again as the room fills with laughter.

"It was nothing serious, I promise. The guy wasn't my boyfriend or anything. But I met Steve, and we talked all night long, and by the end of the night, I was a smitten woman.

"It was about 2:00am, and the place was closing, so the DJ played a slow song. And I wanted to dance with him, so I said, 'Ooo! This is my favorite song! You have to dance with me!' Meanwhile, I had never heard the song before in my life."


"So we danced, and it was actually a few months later when we actually started dating, and then one night after we had been together for a while, he said, 'Honey, listen to what I downloaded!' and it was the song we first danced to. And I was like, 'Awww!'"

I know where she is going with this now, and I am really flattered.

"I thought it would be nice if we played the song now, so we can dance to it again."

The DJ plays the song, "Sweet Bitter Love" (which is playing now) by Aretha Franklin. Somehow, as she sings, Aretha manages to convey deep love and deep sorrow at the same time, and I can't help but feel a bit sad myself, that this amazing party is almost over, and that it might be a long time before I see many of these people again.

But it's more than that. As I think back on that first night, it amazes me that Tim and I wound up together. I was dating Stephanie, she was with Dom. In fact, she probably went home with Dom and fucked his brains out that night, and many other nights before she and I finally got together. What if I never saw her again after that night? Just like that, she would have been out of my life forever, and this day never would have happened. It's sad to think that I could have missed out on everything we've had over the last two years.

I've been thinking about Mom a lot today too. Yes, I am sure she would have managed to make a scene somehow, but it would have been nice to have her here just the same. I was the only one of her three sons who she did not get to see on his wedding day.

The song fades out, and Tim and I goodbye our way around the room.

As we walk through the door, I turn and look one back final time at the festively decorated hall and the smiling guests as they wave us a fond farewell.

As Sam Malone once said, I am the luckiest son of a bitch on earth.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"I, Felicia, take you, Steven..."

Saturday, October 20, 2007, 4:12am
Residence Inn, Room 2104

I'm late.

Holy shit, I'm late!

I snap upright in bed and frantically fling the covers away, grabbing for the digital clock next to me and knocking it to the floor.

I was supposed to be there at 10:30. And now it's... it's...

It's still dark outside.

I exhale slowly through puckered lips, as if blowing cigarette smoke. My nerves are getting the better of me.

I weave my way through the living room, around my sleeping brothers and friends, and manage to drink half a glass of water before going back to bed. I sleep for what seems like forever, roll over, and check the clock. 4:49.

Northern Pines Country Club

"She's not ready yet," Chris says.

I peer out a heavy oak door and take a long look. Every ornate wooden pillar has been carefully adorned with tulips and silk bows; guests fill neatly-curved rows of antique chairs, and soft music plays over strategically-placed Surround Sound speakers.

It hits me that every one of those people are here for Tim and me. They all got up early on a Saturday morning, put on fancy clothes, and drove to a country club in the middle of nowhere to see us get married. If this many people care about me, I guess I'm doing all right.

"Steve, she's ready. She's ready!"

I take a deep breath and look at my watch. It's 11:21.

Chris and I walk out the door and across the room, stopping in front of a huge picture window which overlooks towering pine trees and an ocean of flawlessly green grass.

I look around, my eyes picking up friendly, familiar faces in the crowd: Aunts and uncles, old friends from school, and, in the front row, my dad.

I am so glad he got to be here, so glad that he lived when the doctors said he might die. This day would not have been the same without him.

He smiles at me and rubs at his eye. What a softie.

The opening notes of Kanon in D by Pachelbel waft from the speakers, and my niece MacKenzie bounds down the aisle, just like she did at practice, dumping handfuls of rose petals as she goes.

Next up the aisle is my best friend Paulie, striding purposefully, hands crossed at his waist, mouth and eyes turned downward, as if this were a funeral. He's probably trying to keep from crying.

Lila follows close behind him, a vision of beauty in her rasperry-colored dress, her long hair pulled up in an ornate bun, with one strand hanging down, just the way I used to like it.

Tim and Lila love each other. They have grown very close over the past couple of years, and we agreed right away that she should be in the wedding, as crazy as that may sound. With all the people that Tim and I have been with, Lila is the only ex here today.

She catches my eye as she sits down and gives me a bright-eyed smile, and I smile back. I wasn't always good to Lila, but seeing her face now, I know that everything is okay between us, and I am glad.

My brother Greg. He walks the aisle and takes his seat, waving sweetly to his daughter MacKenzie on the other side of the room.

Next is Tim's cousin, Ellie, who came all the way from California to be here. She and Tim have been close since they were little girls, and often called each other when they had no one else to talk to. As soon as we sat down to pick the bridal party, the first name Tim thought of was Ellie's.

Ellie is no waif. From across the room, she is all boobs and hips, and I am sure she will have her share of admirers at the reception. She takes her seat.

Next is Tim's sister, Drea, the Maid of Honor. A hush falls over the room as she walks past, maybe because it's almost time, and maybe because Drea is so beautiful. She really is like a younger version of Tim, except a bit taller, with darker hair. She walks with a straight back and a quiet confidence, like a runway model.

Drea is just 18, and therefore miles cooler than anyone else in the room, but she has been a huge help in getting ready for the wedding. Whether it be making phone calls, running errands, or reminding us about important tasks, she's been the Most Valuable Player for us. Thanks to Drea, the wedding planning was a lot less stressful than it might have been.

She walks past the chairs where the rest of the bridal party sits and stops at the front of the room, across from Chris and I.

As if on cue, the violins swell to a crescendo. Every guest in the room stands and turns around, and Tim makes her way up the aisle, her right arm holding her father's left.

The first thing I notice is her bare shoulders. The strapless, sleeveless gown was a great choice, given her long, dainty neck and toned upper body. Silk gloves stretch past her elbows, and she's holding a cluster of deep red roses.

The dress is smooth and blizzard-white, with a train that extends for a mile behind her. Her makeup is flawless, like a movie star's, and even from 20 feet away, my cheeks flush and my heart flutters at the sight of her denim blue eyes.

She is far too beautiful for words, so completely perfect that, if I drop dead this minute, my life will have been worthwhile for intertwining with hers.

The music fades. Marvin extends his hand and I shake it. "Congratulations, son," he says, and I am touched that he would call me that. He is not one to show emotion easily.

I take Tim's gloved hand in mine and it's almost as if I am in the presence of royalty, like I somehow lucked out and got to meet a celebrity.

"Hi," she smiles.

"Hi," I say back.


The vows come and go quickly, so quickly that I barely remember them. But as the Justice of the Peace says "You may kiss the bride," I know that, at long last, we finally made it, that I did not screw this up, and that despite my past, I have a great life ahead of me. Applause washes over us and we walk triumphantly back down the aisle together, smiling and laughing.

Now, it's party time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Steve's wedding: The duringmath

Friday, October 19, 2007, 11:45am
Steve's office

"Steve, the implementation budget for Adams Corp. is gone," Ted says.

"Project isn't done yet, Ted."

"But the budget is gone."

No matter how long we stay on the phone, nothing productive will come from this conversation. Ted's call is a symptom of deeper problems.

Our salesmen use their considerable powers of persuasion to coerce clients to pay us huge sums of money. They are so driven to bring in business, in fact, that they sometimes do stupid things like lower the price. I have no respect for a salesperson like that.

Go ahead. Walk into a Lexus dealerhip and tell the salesperson that you really like the car, but you don't want to pay $70,000. Instead, you'd like to pay $40,000. I can tell you for sure you'd be leaving there on foot. You wouldn't get a deal like that, and you wouldn't expect to, either.

"Why do you care, Steve?" you are asking.

Easy. Because the price that the customer agrees to includes a budget for my team to implement the software. And the lower that number is, the faster we have to get the project done, and the less time we have to manage the details. Oh, and if there is any delay whatsoever, we are fucked. Just like we are now.

I was smart to get out of my last job. The hours were ridiculous, the work load neverending, and the politics overwhelming. But my new job isn't paradise either.

My team is going to end up finishing this project in a quick and sloppy way, and none of the time we work on it from now on will be billable. Unless, of course, the salesperson is able to get more money out of the customer, which never happens.

This kind of thing happens constantly around here. Because of that, sometime next January, Bert will call me into his office and ask me why my team isn't billing more. He ought to know the answer without asking. Or maybe he does know, but he's looking for an excuse to keep from giving me a bigger raise.

The funny thing is, though, I don't even care. It will bother me someday, but right now, work is nothing more than background noise. I keep repeating to myself, "This time tomorrow, I will be married."

Married. Married. Married. I think about the word so much that it seems foreign, unfamiliar. Marriage is for old, stuffy people, isn't it? Could it be that I am really going to do this?

Yes, it could, and the truth is I am so proud to be marrying Tim. I know, she had her partying phase, and she screwed around a hell of a lot more than I did--in fact, that is how I met her. But I sense a seriousness about her, a devotion to me and our relationship that I have never felt with anyone else. That devotion makes me want to do the same for her, makes me think of her constantly, fills me with the urge to grab hold of her and never let go.

Yeah, I definitely can't wait until tomorrow.


"Guys, I'm out of here. I'll see you in two weeks," I say, as I dash out the door to a wave of goodbyes and good lucks.

The Brown Stone House
Rehearsal dinner

Chris stands up and taps his glass. "The lone holdout is finally caving in," he begins, to a gale of cheers.

"Thanks for coming out, everyone. It's going to be a great day tomorrow, when my little brother finally gets married. I think you made a great choice. I think you both did," he says, smiling at Tim and me.

The guys are staying at a hotel tonight, and the girls are at my house. As I walk to my car, and Tim walks to hers, I quiver like a 17-year-old on his first date.

I look at Tim, at her beige blouse and blue skirt, at her long blonde hair and round blue eyes, and feel that rush of pride again. Tomorrow, she will be my wife. And yeah, the little boy inside my head wonders what she sees in me.

She hugs me and I close my eyes, inhaling her perfume, touching her silky hair. "You're nervous!" she laughs.

"Not as nervous as you!"

"I'll see you at the wedding," she whispers, and I watch her drive away.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Steve's wedding: The beforemath

Thursday, October 18, 2007, 7:00pm

I'll say it again: I'm glad I waited a long time to get married. I got a lot of womanizing out of my system, and I am mature enough to make smart decisions. Like my bachelor party, for example. My one request was that we have it two days before the wedding, not the night before. I've seen my share of hungover grooms.

Tim and her friends rented a limo and took off for a night of bar hopping. As for me, my brothers and friends came to my house, blindfolded me, poured shots down my throat (it tasted like rum--whatever it was, it was nasty), then packed me into the car and drove for a while. When they pulled the blindfold off, I was at a VFW hall that I had never seen before. I bet they hired a stripper.

I hate strip clubs. If some hardbodied 19-year-old is going to wave her cleanly-shaved pussy in my face, she better be prepared to have my dick in her mouth as soon as I can yank my boxers off. But no, they smile, flirt, thank me for my dollar bill, and then bend over for the guy next to me. If I'm getting some at home, I don't need to see some other chick naked, and if I'm not, seeing a girl I can't touch is just going to frustrate me.

A mountainously fat tattooed man holds the door open for us. I guess he's there to protect her, but it's hard for me to be intimidated by a guy who probably can't even tie his own shoes. "So you're the lucky guy, huh?" he chuckles.

"Yep, that's me."

"No touching," he says, raising his voice to a harsh growl as he addresses the crowd. "And keep the noise down. You break the rules, we're outta here. And there's no refunds."

A door at the back of the room opens, and in walks Bree, in a "Hard Cock Cafe" t-shirt and pink short shorts.

By now, you guys know me. I like them tiny, with long hair and straight teeth, and Bree could not have been any better if I made her myself. She's maybe 4'10", with hair down to her ass, and a mouth straight out of a toothbrush commercial. The guys howl at the sight of her.

They plop me into a chair in the middle of the room, then form a semicircle around me. "Are you the one who's getting married?" she asks, in a high-pitched little girl's voice.

The voice puts me over the edge, and I go rock-hard despite the alcohol. She's just a kid, but she knows what the hell she is doing.

She pulls her t-shirt slowly over her head, exposing a plump, tanned pair of breasts, and proceeds to straddle my legs, brushing her long hair against my face. She turns around and wiggles her perfect bubble ass at me before bobbing it slowly up and down against my crotch.

I can't help but wonder what it would be like to fuck her. And I wouldn't mind seeing her naked--

She slips her thumbs under her shorts and slides them down, stopping halfway down her thighs, then bends over and places a hand softly against her right ass cheek. The guys are going crazy, but I barely hear them.

She steps out of her shorts and bends over again, farther this time, and her pussy lips open like flower petals. I ache to fuck her, to grab her petite little hips and slam them into mine...

She turns around and our eyes meet. I've got The Look now, the look she's probably seen 1,000 times, the look that tells her that I am hers. If a man has The Look, she could tell him to gargle with broken glass, and he'd do it gladly. And she knows it.

She sits on my lap, facing me, and tugs at my shirt. "Are you trying to undress me?" I ask.

"I like bare skin," she smiles, pulling my shirt off and flipping her hair over one shoulder. She bends over and nibbles at my neck, as my eyes slide closed and my hands find her naked hips.

My friend Paulie used to go to strip bars all the time. He even dated a few of the girls. He told me that his secret was not to hit on them, but to talk to them about their day jobs or their families. Every other guy in the place was telling them, in disgusting detail, exactly what he wanted to do to them, while Paulie was coming off as a regular Joe.

No, I'm not planning on nailing her, but instinct kicks in. "How old are you?" I ask.

She totally ignores the question, instead breathing in my ear. She bends her knee and rubs her leg agaist mine, closely enough that I can feel the heat of her crotch.

My breathing quickens; my hand squeezes tighter on her thigh. "You can touch it if you want," she says, and I look up to see her face so close to mine that our noses are almost touching.

"But the guy said--"

"It's okay," she whispers.

I don't want the guys to see. They'll see me do it and think they can follow suit, and pretty soon they'll get carried away, and she'll be out the door.

I let my hand slide down the inside of her thigh, and brush the backs of my fingers gently against her clit. Is this going to happen?

"Go ahead," she coos in my ear, as if reading my thoughts. I extend my index finger and all at once I feel her warm wetness. Am I really fingering the stripper?

She pushes her hips against me, driving my finger deeper, pressing my face between her tits. I remain there for a long moment and I can feel her breath, quick and shallow. Is she enjoying this?

I've been to plenty of stag parties over the years, and at the really wild ones, the stripper would disappear into the ladies' room, and a long line of horny drunk guys with $20 bills in their hands would form outside the door. I can't help but wonder how far this particular one would go...

The crowd is getting restless. "You better go make the rounds," I say, pulling my finger out of her, and she does.

She's gathering her clothes when Chris grabs me. "I've got a surprise for you," he says, and pulls me out the door and across a dark parking lot to a building the size of a backyard storage shed. "Wait here," he says, and walks out, pulling the door closed behind him.

Minutes pass, and the door opens again. "What am I waiting for?" I ask, and my heart stops as I see the Hard Cock Cafe shirt and pink shorts.

"Me," Bree smiles, and she closes and locks the door.

"Are you... are we..."

"You have really good friends," she laughs.

Chris must have paid her an extra couple hundred dollars to fuck me.

She peels off her t-shirt and straddles me, just like she did at the party. "You were hard before. I could tell," she smiles, flashing her flawless teeth.

Oh really? You knew I had an erection? Nothing gets past you, does it?

"Do you want to touch me again?" she breathes in my ear, and before I can answer, she takes my hand and guides it between her legs.

"We can't have sex," I hear myself say.

No way I'm fucking this little skank. I've never paid for sex in my life, and I'm sure as hell not starting two days before my wedding. Yeah, I know, someone else is paying, and it doesn't matter. It's an insult. What, I can't find anyone on my own?

Besides, it's not exactly appetizing to think about the three or four thousand scumbags she's probably fucked--bearded, beer-bellied truck stop types with cigarette breath, I'm sure--and she probably acted just as hot and horny for them as she is for me.

She looks at me.

"You're really hot," I say, "and I'm sure we would have a lot of fun, but..."

"You love her. You're being a good fiance. That's so sweet!" she chirps in her airhead voice.

I probably shouldn't ask her this, but I am loaded, and it is my party, so...

"Are you... do you still get paid if we don't..."

"Your brother said you were going to chicken out," she laughs. "So he made me promise that if you didn't..."

"That he was going to pinch-hit for me?"


I walk back out to the party and find Chris. "A prostitute at my stag party, Chris? A hooker? Really?"

"What are you talking about, Steve?" he smiles.

"I'm not fucking a whore, Chris."

He sighs. "Have you seen her? She's incredible! Did you look at her, or were you too pussy-whipped to open your eyes?"

"She's hot."

"Hot? Steve, she's the hottest little spinner I've ever seen! She's exactly the way you like them! What's your problem?" He fixes his dark eyes on me, his jaw set firmly, like a disappointed parent.

"Chris, you used to be a little more discriminating. This chick has probably seen more dicks than the urinals at Gilette Stadium."

"So I'll give you a dome."

"I'm not interested."

"You're my brother," he says, softly. "I want you to have fun. This is your last night of freedom!"

"I plan on having fun for the rest of my life. Oh, and by the way, I heard you're my backup."

He laughs. "Guess I better go."

"Hey Chris." He turns around.

"I want details."

"You got it, bro," he smiles, then turns and disappears out the door.

Friday, November 02, 2007

I love the Patriots, and you are a pussy

I love the New England Patriots.

Let me say that again: I love the New England Patriots.

I love them even more now that being a Pats fan has become so unpopular. It's nice to know who your real friends are.

You're pissed that Bill Belichick broke the rules and videotaped the Jets. You're pissed that they rang up 52 points against the Redskins, and 149 points in their last three games alone. You're pissed that they leave their first string players on the field long after the games are effectively over, aggressively throwing the ball down the field on a never ending quest for touchdowns, pursuing points the way crackheads pursue little white rocks.

You like Peyton Manning better than Tom Brady. Peyton's commercials make you laugh. He's polite and respectful, and he's far too humble to take credit for his many accomplishments, instead crediting his teammates and coaches for the Colts' success. He even has the decency to be as ugly as a bassett hound, and to avoid dating underwear models, just to remind us that he's a regular guy, just like we are.

He's nothing like that bastard Brady, who clearly was not satisfied with merely winning three Super Bowls before the age of 30. No, Brady had to be good looking too! He insists on banging Hollywood actresses and Victoria Secret models, and getting his mug on the cover of GQ. Tom Brady is the kid in high school who outscored the geeks on the SATs, and then fucked his way through the cheerleading squad while the dorks were home studying.

Yes, Brady says all the right things. He deflects the praise, like Peyton does. He credits the coaches, and his teammates, like Manning. But you watch Brady. You see that twinkle in his eyes and that sly smile, and you know he does not believe what he's saying. You know he thinks he's the best thing to happen to football since instant replay, and you hate him for it.

You praised the Pats after their three championships. You had to. But you've always secretly looked for a reason to hate them and their golden boy QB. And lo and behold, along comes Cameragate.

You don't care that every other team probably did it. You don't care that the NFL commissioner himself admitted that the videotaping had no outcome on the one game in question. You saw the opening and you continue to pound away at it, even now, months later, after the punishments have been handed down and the league has moved on, and after the Patriots have run a train on everyone in their path since then--without the aid of videocameras.

You continue to call Bill Belichick a cheat. You continue to question past victories, including the Super Bowls, even though 100,000,000 people worldwide watched them and you still have zero evidence against the team. But you don't care, because you hate the Patriots and you always have.

So you watch the Patriots unblinkingly. You stalk them, searching for a weakness, because a weakness means that all is not lost. Every week, you manage to convince yourself that this game will be different, that this defense will be the one to finally slow the Patriots down, that the Pats will get complacent, that there's no way they can keep up the onslaught for an entire season without a single letdown.

You'll conjure up statistics to prove your point. You'll criticize past opponents, implying that real teams would have given the Patriots a harder time. But you know it's all nonsense.

You have always feared the Patriots, but you fear them more this year. This year feels different, and has since the preseason. They win Super Bowls with who-dats and other teams' castoffs; what will they do now that they are loaded with more talent than they ever have been?

You know what they will do. They will brutalize their opponents, humiliate them in their own stadiums, score touchdown after touchdown as the stands empty and the announcers whack off over the latest record that Tom Brady has shattered.

You whimper that the Patriots are classless, that they run up the score unnecessarily. You petulantly warn us that karma is a bitch, that their victims will remember and retaliate someday. You wonder aloud when someone will take a cheap shot at Brady, or Moss, and then secretly wish it to happen.

Of course, it never occurs to you that the Patriots were on the losing end more than any team they are crushing today. It was the Patriots who went 1-15 in 1990, 2-14 in 1992, and 5-11 in 2000. You forget that, not so long ago, one team after another visited the Patriots' slapdash, high school-caliber stadium, pounded them into submission, and left town laughing. You're witnessing karma now. You just fail to realize it.

If there is hope for you, it lies in the Colts. Eight weeks into the season, it is obvious: If the Pats don't lose to Indy, they will go 16-0. You can't bear to think of the headlines, the saturation coverage this feat would receive. So you obsess over the game, drown yourself in analysis, seizing upon any nugget which hints that the Colts will win, ignoring the tsunami of evidence that tells you you're wrong. You will hang your hat on last year's three-point victory over New England in the AFC championship game, impressing yourself with how Manning moved his team down the field, conveniently forgetting that he did so against special teams players and bench idiots, and that he did not fare nearly as well against the first string. Yes, the Colts won fair and square, but unless the Patriots defense takes a half off, there is no reason to expect a repeat performance. And you know it.

This is a violent game. Men get paralyzed playing it. Players grow old and wind up in wheelchairs, their bodies irretrievably ravaged and broken. It is a hard, unforgiving game, and should be played that way. Teams should try to score when they have the ball, and should do so aggressively, no matter how big the lead is. Mercy is for girls' softball. If it were any other team, you might agree, but you don't.

Keep hating the Patriots. Keep throwing things at the television and cursing as they gang-rape one team after another. Keep picking the Colts and telling yourself that they can hang with the Patriots, and when Brady is on the sideline, clowning with his teammates late in the game with a 24-point lead, turn off your TV and stop torturing yourself.

Of course, I'll keep watching.