Finn drinks his way through the first round of the 2017 draft, managing to pick a fight with Puck in the middle of it before passing out for the night. In the morning, hungover and feeling guilty, he remembers that Sam went to Miami in the first round, number twenty-three. Finn sighs and shakes his head at himself in front of the bathroom mirror, two ibuprofen in his hand for the headache.
“Poor sonuvabitch,” he mutters to his reflection. “We probably should’ve warned him.”
The 2018 draft has a similar feeling of doom about it, but that could just be the fact that Finn’s sitting on the worst secret of his life, the fact that Rachel is pregnant and that he’s going through with the wedding after all. Everything feels a little doom-tinged around the edges. Still, he’s over at Kurt and Puck’s place, and nobody’s expecting him to be anywhere else—or anyone else, jumping through all the hoops he has to jump through these days—tonight or the whole weekend. Kurt and Puck still have school and work, but not tonight. Tonight, it’s just the three of them, the draft, and Finn’s feeling of impending doom.
“Darling?” Kurt says. “Did you want one?” He holds out the bottle of beer in his right hand.
Finn shakes his head. “Nah. If you don’t mind topping off my scotch, though…” He lifts the mostly-empty glass.
“On it,” Puck says, dropping down beside Finn before pouring scotch into Finn’s glass.
“Thanks, baby,” Finn says. On screen, Roger Goodell takes the podium, puffing himself up like a smug-looking pufferfish. The camera cuts to the crowd, then to the back room with the waiting potential draftees. “I feel like I should have these guys’ numbers, so I can give them a sympathy call or something.”
“You could ask Mike Mayock for a slot on his coverage next year?” Puck suggests.
“It would beat the repetition of the same sad-sack stories they put on for the two hours ahead of the draft starting,” Kurt says.
“Yeah, somehow I don’t think the NFL wants color commentary that includes ‘that poor sonuvabitch’ after everybody’s name,” Finn says. He takes a big swallow of his scotch as the various people on stage congratulate themselves on the awesomeness of the NFL and football and probably their trophy wives, which Finn is technically going to have in a couple of weeks. Or maybe he’s the trophy husband. He can’t exactly ask anybody about it.
“Technically, they’re rich sonuvabitches,” Puck says thoughtfully. “You could spice it up that way.”
“I think it’s like that thing they say about marrying for money. If you get drafted for money, you earn every penny of it,” Finn says.
Kurt nods at Puck to top off his glass and Finn’s too, and then Kurt raises his beer bottle. “To the poor sonuvabitches, darling?”
Finn musters up a grin and clinks his glass to Puck and Kurt’s bottles. “To every single one of us.”
“It’s your first draft, Eliza,” Finn whispers to Eliza, who is currently asleep on his chest. “You can sleep through the whole thing if you want to, though. It’s ok.”
“If she doesn’t, we have some sweet potatoes for our sweet potato,” Puck says.
“Can you hand me my drink? I left it on the wrong side.” Finn nods his head in the direction of his glass, currently on the floor near his left foot.
Puck picks it up, handing it to Finn and looking over his shoulder. “Just bring the bottle in here, blue eyes.”
“And maybe a straw for me so I don’t have to move my head too much and bother Eliza,” Finn adds.
“Darling, you know that we don’t even have a straw,” Kurt says. “I think that may be abusing the injury excuse.”
“I’d take a picture of it,” Puck says.
“But my range of motion is still limited!” Finn says. “Plus, baby!” He gestures at Eliza with his glass. “Baaaaaaybeeee.”
“If you need a drink, I’m happy to hold her for you,” Puck says, nudging Finn’s side.
“But then I wouldn’t have a baby,” Finn says.
“Drink or baby, no straw,” Kurt says teasingly. “Should I unmute Mike yet?”
“Looks like they’re about to start announcing the picks, so I guess you might as well,” Finn says. “Just keep on sleeping, Eliza. You’ll be happier.” He kisses the fuzzy top of her head.
“... despite the buzz around Jackson and Rosen, I still think Key Junior is a strong contender for the Cardinals at number one,” Mike Mayock is saying as Kurt presses the button on the remote.
“Aw, but he won’t get to meet Victor now,” Finn says to the TV. “Bad luck for Key.”
“Yeah, but the Honey Badger’s still there, so that’s something,” Puck says.
“True,” Finn says. He turns his head to the side so he can drink his whiskey without clonking Eliza in the head with the glass.
“I wish the baseball franchises and the football ones would have stayed in the same city, though,” Kurt says. “I thought the baseball Cardinals were in Arizona, too.”
“With the first pick of the 2020 draft, the Arizona Cardinals select Arden Key, Jr,” the TV announces.
Finn sighs. “Poor sonuvabitch.”
This year, the space around the TV is filled with boxes, most filled, but some still empty. The renovations on the new house have been moving along at a reasonable pace, which Finn would appreciate more if they didn’t have two highly active toddlers occupying the same space as the packing materials and an aging Himalayan who has recently developed a hairball problem. Finn has to crank the volume up to hear Annie Apple’s draft commentary over Harvey and Charlie’s excited shrieks. New early-birthday-present blocks from Kurt’s friend Ben require a high-volume expression of joy.
“The best decision the NFL Network ever made was hiring Annie Apple full-time,” Noah says.
“Yeah,” Finn agrees. “I’m glad Eli retired while his joints and his head were still good. Annie is, too.”
“The NFL should get her to teach the rookies about Twitter usage, too,” Kurt says as he sits down.
Finn laughs. “Yeah, I’m not sure the NFL wants her encouraging them like that.”
“Hard to claim you’ve been hacked, though,” Noah says. “These kids look so young.”
“They are so young,” Finn says. “Remember how young we were? I can’t believe it’s been nine years since that was me.”
Charlie makes her way over to futon, a block in each hand. She offers the red one to Finn. “Bok?”
“Sure, Charlie. Thanks,” Finn says. Charlie promptly drops the block directly into Finn’s drink, where it makes a plunk and sends Jameson up into the air and all over Finn’s hand and right pants leg.
Charlie grins. “Wekkum!” Behind her, Harvey claps.
“Yeah, you tricked me good,” Finn says, switching hands with his glass and wiping his wet hand on his pants. “Very funny. Baby, can you grab me a towel? We had a block incident.”
“I think Charlie actually did exactly what she wanted to do,” Noah says as he tosses a towel over the back of the futon. “I’ll refrain from clapping, though.”
“Yeah, that’s why I said incident, not accident,” Finn says as he blots at the wet spot on his pants leg. “Can I get a refill, since I’m wearing most of mine?”
“Did you want that refill with a red block, a blue block, or no block?” Noah asks.
“Sometimes I drink it on the rocks, but I don’t think I ever ask for it on the blocks, so I’m going to say ‘no block’ this time.”
“Boks! Obby ditta boks,” Charlie announces, making an exaggerated arm wave towards the blocks, possibly to indicate the impressive nature of said blocks.
“Oh yeah, Charlie, we all know about Harvey’s blocks,” Finn says. “Trask’s on her way to the podium, if you guys wanted to watch the first pick.”
“She doesn’t carry on like Goodell did,” Kurt says approvingly.
“Nobody could carry on like Goodell did. Remember his last year? I thought he was going to actually pop a boner over how great the NFL was,” Finn says. He takes his replacement drink from Noah and pats the spot next to him. “Sit that hot ass down, baby. The cat can survive a few extra minutes without his anti-hairball treat.”
“The floor may not,” Noah says.
“It’s not like we’ve got carpet in here,” Finn counters. “Sit. Trask’s about to name the Browns’ pick.”
“Fine,” Noah says, sitting down and leaning against Finn. “Who’s it going to be?”
“With the first pick of the 2025 draft, the Cleveland Browns select Orvel Macintosh,” Amy Trask says on the screen. Noah and Kurt both look at Finn expectantly. Finn shrugs.
“I think this kid might be ok,” Finn says.
“The Steelers are on the clock,” Annie Apple says as Noah and Kurt both stare at Finn.
“Really?” Kurt asks. “Because it’s the Browns?”
“I’ve got a good feeling about him, is all,” Finn says. “And yeah, a little bit because it’s the Browns. Maybe this year’ll be their year, right, baby?”
“One of these years’ll have to be their year,” Noah agrees.
“Burt would be happy, at least,” Finn says.
“Shush, Annie’s talking,” Kurt says.
“We have a trade, I think,” Annie Apple says on screen. “Here’s Amy coming back on stage.”
“The Pittsburgh Steelers have traded the number two selection to the Chicago Bears,” Amy Trask says, “and with that selection, the Chicago Bears draft Dallas Hamby III.”
“Well shit,” Finn says. “That poor sonuvabitch.”
“Sunnabish!” Charlie shouts.
“Sonvabish!” Harvey echoes Charlie.
“Oops,” Finn says. “New word.”
Noah shrugs. “Bound to happen sometime.”
Some days, Finn wants a drink, and some days he doesn’t. Sitting down in front of the TV for the draft, with all the kids but Eliza squeezed around them on the sofa, feels a little strange without a glass of something. The draft has traditionally been a drinking day for Finn. Not this year.
Almost twenty years later, Finn is still a little bitter.
Maybe they should consider canceling the yearly draft-watching next year. They aren’t a football watching family. Finn occasionally catches a Badgers game. Sometimes Finn and Kurt will watch a quarter or two of NFL if a game happens to be on, but as the people they know have retired, they’ve watched it less and less, and now that Sam has announced his retirement after the ‘34 season, they might stop altogether. Noah drew a line in the sand about football after Fiver was born and refuses to watch any game but the Super Bowl. Finn thinks they watch the draft purely as a superstition now, anyway. Whatever love any of them may have had for the game has long since dwindled.
“I want to sit closer to Dad,” Charlie says, trying to crawl over Harvey to wedge herself between Nova and Finn. She’s been doing a lot better, less worried that Finn will evaporate, but she still picks up on any tension, and the draft always makes Finn a little tense.
“I’m right here, Charlie,” Finn says. “I’m close enough to touch you, even. See?” He stretches his right arm out and taps Charlie on the shoulder.
Charlie frowns, but squeezes back into her original spot between Harvey and the arm of the sofa. “Alright, Dad,” she says, still looking a little agitated by the two-sibling space between her and Finn.
“Nova’ll go to bed earlier than us, Charlie,” Harvey says. “And we have to plan our party for Saturday.”
“Mr. Irrelevant is the only important part of football, besides Dad,” Charlie says, sounding mollified.
“And Mr. Abs,” Nova adds.
Fiver nods vigorously from Kurt’s lap. “Yes. Abs.”
“Yeah, but Mr. Abulous is almost finished,” Noah says as he sits down in front of the sofa. Finn tugs on one of Noah’s curls, making it spring back.
“Poor old Mr. Abulous,” Finn says. “I’m glad he’s finally getting out.”
“So is Mercedes,” Kurt says. “Probably moreso than you.”
“Wish it had been a little earlier, for his sake,” Finn says.
“Shhh, they’re starting!” Charlie says.
“I like the part with the hats best,” Nova says. “They like their hats. They look happy.”
“Can’t beat a free hat,” Noah agrees.
Charlie leans against Harvey, squishing her siblings closer to Finn. “I don’t think they’re really all that happy about the hats, Nova.”
“Yeah,” Harvey says, nodding. “Poor sonuvabitches, right, Dad?”
Finn laughs. “Right, Harvinator.”
“You want to what?” Casey asks.
“You want to watch the draft? The NFL draft?” Dave says incredulously.
“Yeah. It’s a tradition,” Charlie says. “It’s Poor Sonuvabitch Day.”
“It’s what?” Casey asks, his eyebrows hovering precariously close to his hairline.
“We mean, of course you can watch,” Dave says, “but why?”
Charlie shrugs. “If we don’t watch, some poor sonuvabitch is going to have a terrible career. Dad says he knows it’s just a superstition, but he says even though it’s been about forever, he’s afraid about what’ll happen if we don’t watch.”
“Y’all do this every year?” Casey asks.
“It’s really only me, Dad, and Fiver anymore,” Charlie explains. “Sometimes Daddy’ll watch some, but Papa won’t. He says he thinks it’s an unhealthy obsession on Dad’s part, but Dad just says he’s the one who’s the psychologist, and ‘please stop analyzing me, Noah’,” she finishes, in her best imitation of Dad’s voice.
“Well,” Casey says. “Goodness.”
“Did you want any particular food while you watch?” Dave asks.
“Nope. I’m not particular,” Charlie says.
“Okay,” Dave says with a shrug. “NFL Draft it is.”
They sit quietly watching the pre-draft coverage, and then the new commissioner’s little speech, until finally the commissioner announces that with the first pick, the Cleveland Browns select Joseph Butterfield, Offensive Lineman from Minnesota.
“He’s rather large,” Casey says of Butterfield, who is, in fact, nearly twice the size of the commissioner.
Charlie just shakes her head sadly. “Poor sonuvabitch.”