A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


I thought I knew Amy. I really did.

I mean, sheís my daughter Ė my eldest child. Iíve known her for all of her 25 years, from the first time I saw her tiny little head clamped in those diabolical looking forceps to the last time I saw her neatly combed head clamped in Joe Jr.ís armpit while receiving a noogie, which was . . . oh, about three hours ago (hey, traditions are traditions, adulthood notwithstanding).

I know that she was, at one time, an award-winning gymnast (never mind that she was 5 and she won a pink ribbon for finishing 7th in somersaulting Ė an award is an award). I know that she has music in her soul, and can sing more beautifully than anyone youíve ever seen on "American Idol" Ė Paula Abdul included. I know that she can make this really cool noise that sounds for all the world like one of those squeeze bulb honkers on an old-time bicycle.

But I didnít know that she is a sports fan.

I donít know how I missed this little tidbit. Maybe the sports appreciation chromosome comes in a timed-release format on some females. Maybe chasing her rambunctious 18-month-old daughter Sami from one act of household terrorism to another has awakened her long dormant athletic sensibilities. Or maybe I was so busy watching the games on TV myself that I didnít notice my daughter watching over my shoulder.

Whatever the reason, I was unaware of Amyís enthusiasm for sports until a month ago, when she invited me to join her and Sami for a "Meet the Players" event at the local university.

"Yeah, right," I said, chuckling. "And then we can go into the locker room and sing show tunes with the linebackers."

"Iím serious, Dad," she said. "Iím a big fan."

"Uh-huh," I said. "And Iím Eleanor Roosevelt."

"Go ahead and laugh," Amy said, a little hurt, "but Iíve been a fan for years."

I didnít want to say that I doubted what she was telling me, but . . . well . . . I doubted what she was telling me.

"How could you be a fan for all these years without me knowing?" I asked.

"I donít know," she said. "Maybe you werenít paying attention."

So for the past few weeks Iíve been paying attention. And it turns out that Amy really is a fan. She plans her day around game coverage. She watches the game, occasionally yelling through the TV at officials, coaches, players and TV commentators (a long-standing Walker tradition that recalls the motto on our family crest: "Cura Et Industria," which is Latin for "Kill the Ump"). And then after the game she vents along with the rest of us.

"How many times did he miss open receivers?" she whined last Sunday, recounting the previous dayís inglorious defeat. "Five? Six? These guys were so open I could have hit them."

And you know what? I believe she could have.

Of course, now Iím wondering how I could have missed this significant element of my daughterís personality. Maybe I havenít been paying as much attention as I should.

Then again, thereís no way to know everything about anyone Ė not even those who are near and dear to us. And that isnít such a bad thing, is it? One of the most intriguing aspects of human nature is our infinite capacity to surprise. Just when you think youíve got someone figured out, along comes a previously unknown quirk that brings new light and life to the relationship.

Especially if it means theyíre yelling at the TV.

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--- © Joseph Walker


Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through