Friday, Jan. 12, 2007 | As much as I want the Chargers to win the playoffs this weekend and as much as I want to them to win the Super Bowl, I am seriously worried about how a victory might affect this city’s self image — and mine.
You see, San Diegans put up this front that we live in the best city in the world with great weather, good-looking people and culture up the wazoo, but the truth is, the citizens here actually have a loveable loser mentality.
I view it this way: Picture San Diego and Los Angeles are two sisters. L.A. is the flashy trashy sister with too much makeup, fake boobs and vaguely promiscuous aura. On the other hand, San Diego is the naturally pretty sister with real breasts who doesn’t wear much eyeliner and would rather walk around in jeans and flip-flops than some designer duds.
Sure, the smart people are more attracted to San Diego, but L.A. gets more attention, especially because she pulls off her top whenever she gets drunk.
San Diego realizes her sister, L.A. has a substance abuse problem but still feels a little unappreciated.
San Diego native Cameron Crowe — who based the movie “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” on Clairemont High — once told me the city’s second class mentality has given this city a loser mentality.
It’s an attitude that has resulted in a shlubby sense of humor best reflected in the work of creative citizens like, say, Frank Zappa or Blink-182. I believe it is also why famous sons such as Ted Williams and Graig Nettles are such loveable curmudgeons.
This loser mentality has been fertilized, in part, by the lack of ultimate success by the local pro sports team. Although the Padres have made the playoffs five times in 38 years, they’ve never won a World Series. The Chargers have had their moments but have only one Super Bowl appearance since they moved here in 1961.
This has meant a lot of pain for the fans, a lot of shame when dealing with sports fans from New York or San Francisco and a certain quiet desperation during those rare moments when a San Diego team manages to rise above mediocrity.
But this Chargers team seems different. Rather than being just good enough to make it (and happy to be there), this year’s team seems so good that just making it won’t be good enough. In fact, anything less than a win will be devastating.
But San Diegans are used to that. Yes, I know that if you watch local news on Sunday, it seems like everyone in town is a bandwagon-jumping, booze-soaked cretin yelling things like, “Aww-woooooo! Chargers! Super Bowl Baby!”
Nothing against bandwagon-jumping, booze-soaked cretins who shout clichés, or the news people who give them a forum to shout “Aww-woooooo!,” but I think the majority of fans are less verbal (and less alcoholic).
They’re also fatalists who are wondering when the axe will fall. A friend of mine is the biggest football fan I know and he’s having a hard time getting into the team.
As he put it, “The Chargers always break your heart. Either through penalties, lack of character or just plain stupidity. I want to believe but it’s hard letting go.”
I want to believe too. I want to know the joy of watching a team filled with millionaire athletes who are mostly from other parts of the country coming together to win a championship for this fair city.
But what will happen to my self image — and the self image of other San Diegan natives — if the Chargers do win?
In case you haven’t noticed, I have this sarcastic, cynical, no-one-REALLY-appreciates-me attitude that has been carefully honed from 41 years of loserdom. If the Chargers win, that means I’m a winner too, right? After all, I make my phone calls from the same area code. Well, I did, until they added 858 a few years back but I’m still close by.
I’m just afraid that if the Chargers win the big one, I will feel empty inside because the price of getting what you want is that it becomes what you once wanted.
On the other hand, I’d like the Chargers to become one of those Super Bowl dynasties like the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers or San Francisco 49ers just so I could prove that, unlike sports fans in those cities, I won’t take winning for granted.
It’s up to you, L.T. I wish you luck.
David Moye is a La Mesa-based writer who met Chargers QB great John Hadl at a Straw Hat Pizza Palace when he was eight and didn’t believe it was him because even then he knew only a loser would eat at that (now closed) restaurant. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to the editor.