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My wife came home. It was Monday. I had moved my wife's laptop onto my desk and opened up ATDHE and watched Eagles-Redskins. I had drank some Dead Guy. A good batch, all malt sweetness. I had sat in a game thread with shams and kidder and mattlock and farmer cam and SSreporters and Cheddar and some others, and drank and watched football and shot the shit and, well, had a hell of-a damn time.

The game was terrible. Well, it wasn't terrible so much as over after the first quarter. It wasn't competitive. There's something kind of a fun about an epic blowout and this was an epic blowout. Michael Vick was play slapping the Redskins while banging their collective mom, so to speak. It was a mess, but fun.

It was fun really. Which is queer. I was interacting with a bunch of semi-strangers, people I couldn't pick out of a lineup, posting behind assumed names, commenting about a blowout loss for the Redskins, kind of, and it was fun. I was little knockered and I was in a good mood for whatever reason and, well, it was good company and good times.

So, eventually, my wife came home. She's not unaccustomed to walking in on me a bit drunk and a bit rambunctious, but I think I was especially happy that night. I said to her "we had a good game thread." And it was true. It was a good game thread. It was fun. It was like hanging out with friends, and everyone had interesting things to say, and I laughed some, and the bad game kind of turned good, because the company was good and I felt good and it was spontaneous and it was social and it was alive.

To say the people that comment on Field Gulls are semi-strangers is to attempt a description that would be intelligible 50 years ago. The people that comment on Field Gulls are in some ways total strangers. I don't know where most of them work. I don't know what most of them look like. I don't know all those important things people put on their Facebook page like relationship status, gender, sexual orientation, region, religion, school, tastes in music and movies, the books they list as favorites to strike the right balance between learned and down the earth, their thoughts on current events, their political affiliation, or their opinion on the weather. I don't know anything like that. I don't know the flesh of the person or the things they cover themselves with.

All I really know is their work. Which, well it isn't like that kind of relationship is new entirely, but it has certainly changed.

I was very sad when Dave Niehaus died, but I didn't know Niehaus the man. I don't know if he snored or thought his maid was stealing brandy. I don't know what his voice sounded like when he was angry or what he feared. I don't know his little moments of kindness or how long it took him to brush his teeth. All I knew was his work.

Through his voice I achieved a kind of closeness. It conveyed anticipation and disappointment and dread. It gave me box scores and trivia and little asides about being a broadcaster. It wasn't the man, but it was part of the man, a very pure and honest part of the man, distilled into a lifetime of work.

So when Dave died it wasn't like I was losing a friend, but it was like I was losing a companion. Dave told me the story and I listened and together we followed the Mariners. Would they win today and was this their year? Never their year, but maybe. Was Boonie going to flick his bat was Bone gonna crush one was Big Unit gonna K the side? Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

I am not sure I can call you all friends. If surfmonkey were to show up on my doorstep, I would probably be a bit freaked out. It's not to say I crave isolation or the spare communication of short comments, but we've never seen each other eye-to-eye, shaken hands, shared a space. We do share something, though.

I know the ribald tirades of Whiskey Chainsaw. The strategic inquiries of Jacob Stevens. The twisted brilliance of Scruffy Lefty. I realize when Krazy Leggs and LantermanC haven't posted in a while. I know Misfit's fascination with running backs. I miss abender's biting wit, even if it's caused me a few headaches. I wonder where jimmymoose has gone. Will always appreciate the contributions of Doug and Brian and Phil and Johnny and Craig and how each in their way have made the site broader and richer and more interesting. I depend on the smart and contrary voices of Vasilii and lemonverbena and the hell they sometimes give me and the hell that helps me be a little more impartial, and a little more conscientious, and maybe even a better analyst. I thank Shrug and always remember to point out how stupid a name is "Field Gulls."

Maybe it's not friendship. Maybe's it's temporary and distant. But Field Gulls is a kind of community. It's a kind of second home for me. I announced my engagement on Field Gulls and excused myself from a day of work on my wedding day. It helped me fulfill a dream. It may be just symbols begetting symbols stamped onto an electronic ether, but my words are my work, and my work is the essence of my existence. And I give it to you and you give it back and through that exchange we know each other. Kind of.

But I don't know people as blood or bone or pigment or disfigurement or weakness or good looks, great style and wealth, health and prestige. I know people for their work, their comments, their ideas, their fixations and perspective and education and disposition. Their contradictions. Their emotions. Their hopes as expressed through our shared reliance and love and dependence on a football team. A football team that doesn't love us or hate us but binds us, and good God we are bound!

It's been four years now. Field Gulls has become a fixture in my life. It gave me a life and an escape from graveyard shifts and food service. It got me a book deal. Writing that gives me an electricity running up my skin, a sense of rising, like when I was a kid and imagined writing great books and accomplishing great things and living a glorious life. T.E. Lawrence I am not. My Thomas Pynchon fantasies passed a few years ago and even the Henry Miller scenario seems distant and foolish. But I have a little place to write what I want and talk Hawks and return to and avoid for a day and return to again.

I have three days of game threads ahead of me and a giddy anticipation for Monday. I have somewhere to walk and some beer to buy and some thoughts about Matt Hasselbeck to think through, and another day's work ahead of me.