An expletive came flying from the living room that October night in 1986.
Mookie Wilson's slow roller had somehow found its way through the balky legs of Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, and my father reacted in a manner befitting the latest in a string of heart-wrenching collapses by the Olde Towne Team.
I was just six years old that night, but my perception of the sports world and how things were supposed to work was forever cemented by the Mets' win in Game Six of the World Series.
Losses weren't surprises, I believed—they were expected. The Sox would never beat the Yankees; the Celtics would never again be THE Celtics of Bird, McHale, and Parrish.
And the Patriots...um, who?
What a difference two decades make.
The Red Sox are now a model major league franchise, the C's have discovered a new Big Three, and the Patriots on Saturday likely will become the first team ever to complete a perfect 16-game regular season.
But I still can't relax.
Whether it's the Sox' latest romp through the playoffs (I was worried about the spunky Colorado Rockies because of their remarkable winning streak) or the Pats' perfect season (I'm reminded of the 2005 Indianapolis Colts' awesome run through the regular season, which ended in playoff defeat), I can't shake the nervousness.
"It's rare for the sporting planets to align so magically and rarer still for them to remain that way for long," reporter John Powers wrote in The Boston Globe this week.
Whether it's an inherent New England cynicism or the result of memorable losses sprinkled throughout my youth, I don't expect my team to win—even if I should.
But my chewed fingernails will mock the quiet confidence that should be the hallmark of all Patriots fans.
Hopefully, there will be no expletives this weekend.