By Dan Bernstein —
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) Not having a Bears game means not having to plan out the day around it, carving out the usual three hours for trying to remember to not throw the remote directly at the television, and more time for those of us responsible for then writing about what we saw, as if anybody cares.
It remains the reliable centerpiece of a fall weekend, unless already performed for us halfheartedly on a Thursday or looming for later the next night like some kind of threat. The rest is built out around it, even though it regularly proves time better spent.
And complicating matters is the truth of the longest Sunday, the one on which we have reversed the clocks one hour, perpetuating the lie that it provides any kind of respite or extra chance to sleep. Because unless we’re college students or single people or any other such relatively carefree sort, up time is up time regardless of what the clock screams. It’s just where the planet happens to be turned.
So anybody with little kids is awake and on duty just as regularly as ever, only at what is deemed to be earlier. The same goes for those of us who are merely old, with whatever is left of our circadian rhythms unaffected by such trickery. The temporal gaming just provides an extra hour to take a deeply disconcerting and dreadful scroll through the news feed, surveying whatever next and freshest hell that has descended upon us, making coffee taste like fear and doom.
But at least there’s no Bears game.
The football always seems better that way, for some reason, often independent of the current state of the franchise. Some team in bright red completes passes to wide receivers as if it’s just, like, normal, while another in green finds a way to score 40 points in a way that suggests such achievements aren’t only allowed but expected. It’s all lighter and more fun and not laden with Bears-ness, in that way that we have come to know.
At halftime of the early games, it already feels like it’s 5 p.m. But it’s not what it used to be, as we remember so many similar days at a pumpkin patch in the suburbs. The pictures are there to prove it from any number of journeys into the corn maze or trundling on hay bales behind a tractor, trying to instill autumnal happiness in our children as we try not to spill steaming hot cider on our laps. Then there is the fenced-in zoo of farm animals, where the boy once commented loudly on the obvious masculinity of the sheep and the other time the girl picked up a raisin and asked why there were so many raisins on the ground and PUT THAT DOWN RIGHT NOW WHERE’S THE SANITIZER. We then pay for a wagon full of vegetables.
Now the boy is playing Madden on the PlayStation while trash-texting his fantasy league rivals as he monitors the scores of the real games, stopping all of it only to hurl invective at Julio Jones for derping a sure touchdown catch all alone in the end zone. The little girl, meanwhile, has been grinding away at a load of sophomore homework that culminates in a battle with the downstairs printer that necessitates a stop at Office Depot on top of the grocery run that heralds the start of the next week.
One more is over, without the reliable and usually regrettable punctuation of Bears football. It’s all dark gray and wet and somewhere so much is just so sad. This could be a lot worse.