God, Dad and Basketball

I don’t believe in God, and I think that is a real shortcoming on my part. It isn’t a matter of disagreeing with people who believe in God, it’s just that I simply can’t. They say there are no atheists in the trenches, but the times in my life when I have truly despaired, when my fear went beyond the rational and I found myself saying “Please” out loud, I never for a moment believed that I was asking something of a God, and I never expected any kind of deliverance. I simply had reverted to the most scared and desperate that my conscience could recall, and that was probably as an infant crying out for my parents. I am more trying to get my Dad to help me than I am believing that God will.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t have stupid irrational things that I do believe in. I believe very strongly in cognitive resonance. I believe in it so much that I blame it for why I am incredibly bad in movies and at auditions. I can only really act when I am surrounded by an audience. Even if they hate me, I am suddenly listening and aware and alive. I am a really good actor, and I am goddam dreadful in movies. Seriously. My head looks like thirty human teeth swimming in an unset pudding covered in hair, and I act like Pee Wee Herman behind the desk. But in front of a theater audience, I am damn near superhuman.

This cognitive resonance inspires me also to believe that my rooting for a team will actually change the outcome of a game. I alone can’t, but if thousands and thousands of us are rooting for the same guys to win, then maybe something extraordinary will happen. For instance, maybe Shane Battier will get called for a foul that he would usually get away with. Maybe Brendan Haywood would knock down two free throws. Maybe the dookie’s shot would fall in, but it would leave his hand a few tenths of a second too late. If I scream and try hard enough, maybe Carolina will beat Maryland in the ACC tournament again next year.

But I don’t know how hard I will be pulling. I don’t know who will be on the bench coaching these kids that I love. Doherty was fired, despite my blog from last week. I believe that both cognitive resonance, the fact that so many people wanted him to fail, and plain old fashioned lack of popularity drove him out. He was a hard man to love, and that made me love him even more. He was a strict disciplinarian, and that is what I always felt I was missing. If everything they say about him is true, then he is still the coach I want.

He was mean to the kids. But he bled Carolina Blue. Some kids transferred, but it was half because they didn’t like Doherty and half because they knew no-one else did either. I know, I was there. I hated my director at Citrus, and the more shit I talked the more the higher-ups tacitly accepted it. He ended up hating me, and I learned one half of what I should have learned because I was hating instead of listening. I was wrong.

My father was mean to me as a kid, a real task master. But now, I come to him with my ideas, or he sees me in a show, and he thinks I am amazing. No-one is casting me, no-one is seeing my shows, but my Dad comes and tells me that I should focus on being an actor, that no matter what anyone says, he thinks I am brilliant. Matt Doherty came home to Chapel Hill and his father, Dean Smith, never had his back. If people thought I sucked, and my own family agreed, I would resign as well.

Look, he should have gone, and now that he’s gone we can get a coach with more experience. And my belief in Carolina, unlike my belief in God, is still there despite the lack of logic, despite the lack of proof, and despite this latest disappointment. But to think that those guys did what normal guys do just makes me sad. I want us to be better than everyone else, and when Dean and Gut were there I believed it.

One last thing about my dad and God. My dad used to tell us he was Jesus Christ. He would answer our small child disbelief with, ‘Prove it! Prove that I am not Jesus Christ!’ When I was in my early twenties and mad at my dad, I used that to prove what a bad guy he is, but now I find it so unbelievably delightful. I hope I do the same thing to my kids, although I doubt Jordana would let me get away with it.