By early afternoon yesterday, I just had to make a call to Columbus for Belton Fleisher.
Of course, at the time, I had no way of knowing that the economics professor would not be able to so much as report the final score of the game in which his university's football team won the national championship over the weekend.
No, that was just my stroke of good luck.
So refreshing, yesterday, having a conversation with someone who did not know and, furthermore, did not care about the Friday night Ohio State-Miami game!
“If I were younger,” the labor economist said, in that thoughtful way of labor economists, “I'm sure I'd thoroughly have enjoyed [the game].”
“But not three days later,” he added. Thoughtfully.
When I came into the newsroom yesterday, I meant to write about the Toledo Museum of Art's controversial proposal for a Glass Center, but that'll just have to wait for another day, because yesterday was Surround Sound football.
To the right of my desk, suspended from the wall, is a swath of vivid scarlet with a gunmetal-gray “O” that one of the reporters hung up first thing in the morning.
To my left, some guy just walked by in a screaming red sweatshirt honoring the Bucks.
And right at THIS VERY MINUTE, one reporter has pointed out that another scribe is wearing the same OSU wind shirt that he wore to the office Friday - and, as the sheepish shirt-wearer just disclosed, that he wore on Saturday too.
“What is that smeared on your shirt?” the wind-shirted scribe is asked. “Is that nacho dip?”
I'm writing this yesterday. The game was Friday night.
C'mon, people! Let it go.
Professor Fleisher, meanwhile, turned out to be my kindred spirit. I called him because I wanted to ask a labor economist if anyone in that field has quantified the productivity losses suffered by American business as a result of time diverted from work to talk of sports.
“Well,” said the professor, drawing out the word thoughtfully, “no.”
“And you're not going to get me to say we should cancel football because of it,” he added, but this time he spoke warily, not thoughtfully.
He is, after all, an economist at OSU and, in case you hadn't heard, they're the 2002 National Champions!
“No, I didn't watch the game,” Professor Fleisher confessed. “I got that out of my system as an undergrad. Although I heard it was a pretty good game.”
Hey, double overtime, pal. There are, I'm sure, people who are still hung over from joyous celebration.
“We live in a country with a lot of adolescents, which for some people can last 60 or so years,” said the economist, although to hear him tell it, he's spared all that: “It's the first day of classes, people are back to work and we've got other things to do.”
No, at OSU's econ department, they weren't talking about any football game.
Not within earshot of Belton Fleisher, anyway.
Sheesh. Some people have all the luck.