For example, last week’s big game against the San Antonio Spurs started when I was 25,000 feet over Amarillo, Texas. That’s fine because nobody can use the Internet or the cell phones when you’re on a plane. The problems start when you’re plane lands. Usually the other people on the plane are too uncomfortable standing next to you waiting for their turn to leave to actually make conversation. No spoilers there.

The next stage was more difficult. I had to walk through Terminal 4 with Ninja-like discipline. I couldn’t look left or right for nearly a quarter of a mile because there are TV screens everywhere. Just to be safe, I put on my Mean Face just in case I ran into a friend and they unwittingly blurted out the score of the game. If you think this is a little extreme, you don’t understand that my friends would do something like this, and you also forget that this was the Suns/Spurs game–the first with big Shaq. This is playoff basketball two months early.

While I waited for my wife to pick me up, I opted to leave the massive crowds inside the airport and stand among a handful of smokers outside, because statistically, there was less chance that I’d overhear someone yapping about the game in progress. I smelled like smoke for the rest of the day, but at least I got to enjoy the game from beginning to it’s glorious end. (Even if it was technically three hours after the final shot of the game.)

I’ve spoken to my friends about this anxiety, and they know what it’s like. My friend Justin had problems–coincidentally–over last year’s final regular season game against the Spurs. His girlfriend’s parents were in town for the weekend, which would have been fine, maybe even fun. Welcome to Phoenix…now lets watch the Suns! Unfortunately, these folks didn’t care much for basketball.

He knew this fact a week in advance and decided that watching the game together was a bad idea. Something that could end the whole relationship. So he crafted an brilliant plan. He set the DVR to record the game, and then he took the family to the only event that he could find that would be absolutely insulated from the game: The Renaissance Festival. Genius! Shear genius! Give the man a trophy!

Think about it: it’s so hard to avoid hearing about the outcome of a big game. I almost punched a bag boy at Basha’s last year because he asked me if I bought all this party food to celebrate the “big win.” I looked at him sideways for five seconds and then slowly explained to him we hadn’t seen the game yet. He felt so bad he jumped to the next register to start bagging groceries for a lady who bought a pack of gum.

Really, where do you go? Even if you took them on a hike up Camelback Mountain, there would be a group of girls from ASU laying out in the sun listening to the game on the radio…debating on who is cuter, Raja or Leandro. There’s no safe place. Three years ago, the priest at my parish ruined the outcome of a game during his sermon. How messed up is that? Isn’t that a sin?

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