On November 12, 2015

Beautiful loser

By Dom Cioffi

I received two premiere tickets to see an NFL game this past weekend. They were given to me free of charge along with an incredibly convenient parking pass located right next to the stadium.

The plan was to take my son and meet up with other friends and their kids who were also attending the game. We scheduled a time to arrive and coordinated who would bring the football and delicacies for tailgating.

I talked about my good fortune with colleagues at work, boasting, “Be sure to scan your TV for me on Sunday. I’ll be the guy leaning over the railing high-fiving the players!”

On the Friday going into the weekend my son announced that he was invited to a sleepover with friends. I obliged and packed his bag and dropped him off, reminding him that we had a big day on Sunday and not to pull a foolish all-niter.

The next day was rainy so he stayed with his friend and met up with some other kids to go bowling and hit the arcade. By the time he arrived back home, it was 5 p.m. on Saturday evening.

And that’s when I got the first hint of trouble.

When he walked in the door, my son appeared haggard. “Buddy, you don’t look so good,” I exclaimed.

“I don’t feel so good, Dad,” he replied.

I walked over and grabbed the backpack off his shoulder at which point he weakly fell into my arms. My son is 11 years old so I don’t get many hugs anymore. When I do, it’s usually a good indicator that something is amiss.

I immediately did the parent thing and cupped my hand against his forehead. My first reaction: “Uh oh.”

His forehead was wet and clammy and quite a bit hotter than it should have been coming off a 20-minute car ride.

I ushered him onto the couch and proceeded to dig out the thermometer to take his temperature. My instincts were right. He had a 101-degree fever.

“No problem,” I thought. “A little children’s ibuprofen and some sleep and he’ll beat this thing back by morning.

I administered the medicine and tucked him into bed, all the while telling myself that the game was not in jeopardy. I called my wife, who was out of town, and filled her in. “You know he can’t go to the game if he’s sick, right?” she prodded.

I argued that this was merely the result of too much candy and too little sleep and that I was confident he would bounce back after a long night in bed.

Unfortunately, my son woke me up almost every two hours during the night, first complaining that he was too cold and then too hot. As we crept into the wee hours of the morning, I felt my golden NFL tickets drifting further and further away.

When morning finally arrived I quietly sneaked into his room and sat on his bed. Eventually he rolled over and looked at me. He knew what I wanted him to say; he knew how important this was for me. And I genuinely think that if he thought he could have mustered up the energy to get ready, he would have.

But it wasn’t going to happen. I knew it and he knew.

At that moment, as I stared into his innocent and exhausted eyes, I suddenly didn’t care about the tickets anymore. And seeing how guilty he felt about it broke my heart. “I’m sorry, Dad,” he whined. “I’m a loser.”

“No, you’re just sick, buddy,” I replied as I rubbed his head.

I then made the necessary phone calls and informed our friends what was happening. They were upset, but understood completely. Not surprisingly, they found someone to take our tickets. I could have made some money off the transaction but in my mind, that didn’t feel right. Someone else should feel the same good fortune that I felt.

Later in the day as the game was preparing to start, I carried my son out to our couch and propped him up. I then grabbed a cold soda for him and a beer for me and there we sat for the next three hours enjoying the game – even if it didn’t work out like we planned.

Speaking of losers, this week’s film, “The Peanuts Movie,” features the most loveable loser of all time: good ol’ Charlie Brown.

As a child, I learned to read partly through “Peanuts” comic books. I was a huge fan of the strip and entirely captivated by the various cartoon specials that were aired in the 1970s.

When I heard that a feature film was in the works, I was both excited and scared— excited that “Peanuts” was finally getting a nod with a major studio release and scared that it wouldn’t be treated with the respect and reverence that it deserved.

Thankfully, “The Peanuts Movie” is a grand celebration of Schultz’s work and a beautiful combination of his artistic style and modern digital animation.

Everything you remember about Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy and the rest of the gang is here. The writers did a wonderful job of weaving all the classic storylines into one feature film so parents can enjoy the nostalgia while kids enjoy the laughs.

A triumphant “A-” for “Peanuts.”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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