Photo: Paul Rudderow
Confession time: I was a soap operaholic.
That’s possibly a tad strong, but I grew up watching soap operas with my mom while she folded laundry and later with my older sister who somehow got me hooked on Days Of Our Lives during summers off from school. When it came time for me to take the remote control, I clicked away from shows of that ilk. I still consider myself above average intelligence when it comes to soap operas, which puts me squarely below normal average intelligence. However, it equipped me to deal with the current Union season better than I could ever have imagined.
Here are some of the lessons that soaps taught me that I’ve been working to adapt to my Union fandom.
Soap Opera Rule: Never commit to a particular character.
Union Fan Rule: Commit to the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back.
This is the obvious one because, in soaps, anyone can be killed off at any time. One minute you’re deeply in love; the next you’re in the deep blue sea gasping for air. For the Union, you might be leading the team in scoring one moment, and the next you’re taking a dive down the elevator shaft. So when Le Toux, Califf, and Mwanga met their Union demise, I should have been more prepared than I was. Suffice it to say, I took the deaths of soap characters a little more lightly than the trades of some of the Union stalwarts.
Soap Opera Rule: The villain will come back with a vengeance.
Union Fan Rule: The Nowak will return for a lawsuit.
Often in soap operas, the villain of the story will rise to the heights of his evil plot only to be killed off. (At least the writers are equal opportunity murderers!) However, you keen observers know from having watched countless horror films or soaps, the villain is likely to return in some gruesome fashion to exact some measure of revenge. In our case, just as the Union were riding high following the vanquishing of several foes under the leadership of a newly minted leading man, the old villain returned with a dastardly lawsuit! While maybe not as harrowing as a soap’s kidnapping or murder plot, the lawsuit casts a black pall over the Union’s resurgence.
Soap Opera Rule: Anyone can sleep with anyone on any given episode.
Union Fan Rule: Anyone can play any position in any given game.
One of the classic rules of soap operas is that pretty much anyone can sleep with anyone. Love triangles, May-December romances, and unknowing siblings have made the Luke-Leia mistake. While nothing THAT racy has happened with the Union, for a large period of the first half of the season, the lineup was in constant flux, and any player could be plugged into any position. The manipulating of couples was just as befuddling as some of the lineups we saw and even more destructive. Luckily, we seem to have settled into a fairly regular rhythm, but you have to be on your toes because you never know when the evil villain could return and sleep with your starting right back. Be strong Sheanon!
Soap Opera Rule: There’s always an evil twin.
Union Fan Rule: Go Farfan twins!
I just like that we also have twins.
Soap Opera Rule: Heroes saved from explosion at the last minute.
Union Fan Rule: Union saved from boos at the last minute.
A time bomb ticks to the impending doom of our soapy heroes. Just when their demise seems certain, they’re saved and whisked away to safety as the explosion nips at their heels.
We’ve seen the Union through the most dire of straits earlier this season. Now we’ve been rescued by a fair-haired gunslinger of a manager hellbent on scoring goals and having fun. Hopefully, we’ve dodged the time bomb, and it’s clear sailing for our heroes now.
The funny thing about soap operas is that you know the conclusion of the story 30 seconds into the show. It’s not that simple with this Union season. We’ve had lots of downs, a growing number of ups, and more drama than any midday soap.
Hopefully we’ll end just as happily.