[The scene: the basement of Our Lady of Sorrows church, Mission Valley. A circle of chairs. A despondent array of suffering souls.]
Walter Mencken: Hello, everybody. Please sit down. Welcome to Walter Mencken’s Post-Breakup Workshop. Your relationship may have been damaged beyond repair, but that doesn’t mean you have to be! Let’s see... Joseph Fanbase, let’s start with you.
Joseph Fanbase: Just Joe. Joe Fanbase.
WM: That’s fine. Well, Joe, why don’t you tell us why you’re —
JF: That faithless bitch.
WM: Okay, what I’m hearing is a lot of —
JF: What you’re hearing is that she’s a faithless bitch. Fifty-five years I gave to her. Fifty-five years, and what do I get for my trouble? First chance she has, she turns tail and starts slutting it up with some moneybags in Los Angeles. They got a name for someone you can just buy like that.
WM: I’m not sure that’s entirely fair. A girl has to think of her future.
JF: What future? It’s not like that Kroenke jerk gonna marry her! He already has a wife, and her name is the Rams. He’s just gonna let the ex–Mrs. Fanbase into his bed when the old lady is out of town. There’s no way he’s giving her a permanent lease. I give it two years before he decides she’s more trouble than she’s worth and dumps her. That whole town is disposable; it’s always about the new new thing. And when that happens, you best believe I’m not gonna take her back, no friggin’ way. Los Angeles, of all places. Why didn’t she just make a deal with Oakland while she was at it, really stick it to me?
WM: I understand you’re hurting. But sometimes we’re able to learn best when we’re the most open and vulnerable. Maybe it would help to look back, try to spot the danger signs.
JF: Spot ’em? She held ’em high! She’s been threatening to leave for at least ten years. But you know, that’s her way. It’s part of why I love her — loved her — she always kept things unpredictable, even electric. What’s in a name, right? I always figured we’d work it out. Like when the mayor proposed his little compromise. But we all know how that went over.
WM: Sounds like there’s still a spark in your heart for the Chargers, Joe. We’ll come back to you. Let’s move on to... Miss Qualcomm.
Gloria Qualcomm: Thank you.
WM: And who is this with you?
Steven Qualcomm: Steven Qualcomm. I look after her.
WM: You’re her father?
SQ: She’s got my name, doesn’t she? I gave her my name. Let me tell you, this Charger creep couldn’t have picked a worse time to leave. I’ve got Apple suing me for a billion dollars, and on top of that, the feds are breathing down my neck about monopolization. The last thing I need is to see my name getting dragged through the mud in the press. Do you see what they’re calling my Gloria? “A dated eyesore.” “A dump.” “Sagging.” Sagging! How does concrete sag, I ask you? And you know they wouldn’t be saying those things if that fly-by-night bastard hadn’t —
GQ: Please, Daddy. Remember, it’s my broken heart. Mr. Mencken, I know that his decision was ultimately his to make. I know that. But I can’t help sometimes, you know, thinking that maybe I could have… done more. I remember when he asked me to get some work done back in the late ’90s. He wanted me to enlarge my capacity, and I made such a fuss about ticket guarantees. Of course, it wasn’t about the tickets. It was knowing that he was unhappy with me, and wishing he could be satisfied with the way I was. Anyway, he made all sorts of promises about how I’d get increased exposure and we’d host more Super Bowls, and that was nice. But he also pointed out that I was getting older and that many of the other teams were ditching their old stadiums for newer, sexier ones. You know, the kind with nicer... luxury boxes.
SQ: The cad!
WM: I see. So you consented to the… improvements?
GQ: I didn’t want to lose him! Of course, it wasn’t enough. I only ever hosted one more Super Bowl, and he never did give me that ring he promised. “Just one before I die,” I used to ask him, and he would be so sweet. “Next year, honey. Next year we’ll be healthy. Next year I’ll get you a proper coach. Next year…” sob.
WM: Oh, dear. Here, take my handkerchief; you seem to have sprung a leak. Let’s hear from someone else. My goodness — Norv Turner, is that you?
Norv Turner: I thought maybe I could offer some perspective, since the Chargers broke up with me years ago. I just think it’s a shame things ended when they did. In October of 2012, you will recall, I said that my intention was to finish the season “at precisely .500, thus stifling all the obvious, extreme emotions that a great success or great failure would engender. Because only in this state — frustrated but not enraged, and unclouded by elation — can a fan become reflective and consider whether or not it is really worthwhile to keep the Chargers in San Diego at any cost. Perhaps the time has come for an honest assessment of what you give to them, and what they give or do not give back to you in return. Ultimately, I concluded, “This season is not about football. It’s about you, the fan. Football is just the myth I’m using to help you understand yourself. Please, think about it.” Of course, she didn’t let that happen. I got the boot, she made the playoffs, and everyone wound up with four more years of crazy. And now here we are. In mythological terms, the plight of the artist is akin to that of the prophet: forever crying out in warning, like the Greek seer Cassandra; and also like her, forever ignored. Troy fell, and the Chargers wound up homeless: rejected by San Diego and unwanted in Los Angeles.