Nate and The Simpsons

The 13th season of The Simpsons comes out on DVD this Tuesday. Why is that important? I’ll tell you.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to see Nate’s progress in stark terms. Looking at his writing from eight years ago as compared to now was startling, but that came about when I received a packet of his old work. It’s not part of our every day life. The Simpsons are.

For years, Nate was obsessed with the release dates of The Simpsons’ full season box sets. It didn’t matter what medication he was taking for focus, the adventures of Springfield’s finest family ruled his every waking minute. There was no peace for him, or us.

“When is Season ___ coming out?” he’d ask all day long. He’d scour fan sites for information, log in to chat rooms to say with great authority a date he had made up in his own mind for release. He’d even write phony press releases and send them to various web administrators who couldn’t contain their excitement that there was a new lead. When it became clear Nate was making it all up, anger ensued; he was even banned from some sites.

School days were difficult as he would lash out and yell, unable to control his anxiety. And when the pre-order date would come out, it would provide him little comfort. Then he would count down the days until it was in his hands. Even that was not enough. Once safely at home, Nate would drive himself, and us, crazy by immediately harping on the next set, whose appearance was months away.

After one rough day at school, we told Nate we weren’t going to take him out for Chinese food because of a series of disruptions he caused at school. He lost it then, screaming and flailing his body on our cream-colored couch, a sudden move of his left leg putting a crack in our computer room wall. There were times I lost my cool at him, uttering a phrase he repeats to this day, bad language and all.

Out of the blue, Nate will say, mimicking my angry voice, “It is a f’ing TV show!” (He uses the real word, not ‘f’ing’). It cracks him up now. It didn’t then.

These days, it’s a non-issue. A few years ago he just stopped carrying on about it, a sign of real maturity and growth. The strange thing is, once he gets the DVDs, he files them away on his bookcase and never watches. In fact, if his brothers watch the old shows, Nate slams the door and tries to drown out the sound. I haven’t quite figured out Nate’s confused and ever-changing relationship to Homer and the gang.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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