I just finished a game of Scrabble in which I was handed every opportunity to win, and I did. My opponent tends to take losses pretty hard even when he shouldn’t, and there’s no question he thoroughly outplayed me. I got three “bingos” for 150 bonus points, owing to outrageously good tile fortune, and he got only one, for 50. I won by 12. While planning for and around the bingos is certainly part of the game, the higher your score without them, the better lemonade you’ve made. I was going to write him and tell him this, but I know he doesn’t want to hear it—he just wants to win, and would take it as gloating on my part, not because it would be per se but because we’ve been over this enough to understand how he would feel about it.
I have my own blind spots. Yesterday my flag football team lost to the #1 team in the league in an exceptionally close game. We were ranked fourteenth coming in, and as recently as two weeks ago lost 38-0 in our second game. After that, though, something clicked, and we won last week. This week, we held our own and fell apart but most of the team was happy with the result. The one person who wasn’t was me, and no one could figure it out, because I had played at least (objectively) a decent game as quarterback. The only problem was I threw two interceptions on our “girl plays”—the mandatory once-per-four-down plays that must go to a female—when I vowed not to throw picks at the outset. One teammate couldn’t figure out why I was so down about it until he mentioned it to the quarterback of another team at the postgame bar roundup. “You don’t understand,” he said. “You NEVER forget interceptions.” And at that point my teammate knew that there was nothing he could say to me to make me forget them, even if it wasn’t the end of the world. It’s just one of those things.
If I felt bad yesterday, I can’t imagine what Peyton Manning is going to feel like for the next 50 years.