There seems to be a football game tonight.
I live in New England. People are building snow Patriots, commissioning expensive professional “Go Patriots” signs for their businesses, and wearing multiple layers of overpriced football gear.
“If we win tonight…” “We.” “We” are not all playing this game. If “we” are, then a few people forgot to get on the team bus because the grocery store was busy today.
I won’t be touching deflated balls or dumping Gatorade on coaches tonight. I’m just planning what type of Superbowl snacks I’ll make that remind me of junk food, since I don’t eat it these days. You can’t go to a Superbowl party and say, “Sorry, I’m not eating gluten” or pass on potato chips because they’re fried in industrially processed canola oil. Even if you do get away with the first two party fouls, you most definitely can’t say, “I don’t eat chicken wings. Vegetarian.” Makes you seem like an ungrateful guest or an exchange student from a country nobody can spell that doesn’t have football.
I’ll use the impending snowstorm as an excuse to stay home and eat. I want to be well-rested for work on Hangover Monday, the day my colleagues wish they hadn’t stayed up so late sampling all the beers in the Superbowl ads. I’ll go to bed at my regular 9:30, having had a nice cup of tea.
I’m certain I’m under investigation for communism.
Don’t get me wrong. I love sports. I grew up a Yankee, UConn, and Giants fan (God bless Jets fans) but didn’t really learn football until college in Upstate New York which meant I was a “wide-to-the-right” Buffalo fan from the era when BILLS stood for “Boy I Love Losing Superbowls.” I guess it still does.
I’m in New England, now. The thing is, you can’t jump on a team’s bandwagon when it’s on top–makes you seem like a poser–so I waited for the Patriots to have a terrible season or two so I could convert.
Then I married someone who didn’t watch sports.
“Sports are stupid…don’t watch them, play them.” It’s true, I never burned off any calories watching a football game. I cooked them instead. Sunday was my day to make the week’s worth of food and memorize scores so I could win the office football pool and put a timing belt in my car.
But sports get addictive. I remember the letdown of the “week after the season” feeling.
“How can you cook a pot of chili if there’s no announcer in the background?” My Sunday cooking was timed to football. Chili simmers from kickoff of the one o’clock game to the first quarter of the 4PM game. Soup can go longer, depending. Fifteen minutes in cooking time isn’t the same as fifteen minutes of football time. I needed a post-season conversion chart.
Divorcing sports wasn’t easy. It goes against the fabric of American life. When I started teaching, one student said, “Miss, you can’t marry someone who doesn’t let you watch sports…that’s just back-assward.” Those were the days when students saying “ass” shocked me. Nothing shocks me now. Sometimes I don’t eve notice the “F” word.
It seems odd when it’s the woman in the house watching sports. Peg Bundy always told Al Bundy to turn off the game, never the other way around. But times are changing. Who cares that women don’t make the same as men or that there aren’t enough female venture capitalists or CEOs in the world? American marketing has finally allowed women join men on game couches. And as long as they bring the right chips or beer, they no longer have to be in bikinis–they can be legitimate fans.
When I was winning the office football pool, the guys wrote it off to luck. My female colleague announced her strategy one day. “I pick the team with the cutest butts.” I loved her, but that set us back to pre-suffrage. How would we ever get equal jobs if we picked football teams by how players looked in spandex rather than by memorizing stats?
I prided myself on knowing statistics and being able to discuss them on a Monday morning, even though I’d rather have discussed a book. It was important to be able to fit in with the crowd, and the crowd was discussing football.
I recently discovered there are people whose entire job it is to compile obscure stats so broadcasters and armchair quarterbacks have something to discuss. They make it seem like magic.”How did they KNOW that?”
If I hadn’t been a liberal arts major hell-bent on burying myself in college debt, I could’ve been an Obscure Stat Manufacturer too. Little did I know that’s what I’d do in education years later.
But today’s the big game. On big game days when the region goes wild with spirit, I feel a pang of nostalgia. I miss the times when I was part of society and pop culture. It took a while to completely detox–I had to miss a few seasons of baseball, college basketball, and football to be fully divorced from the cycle. I soon lost connection with the teams, statistics, and weekly goings on of my favorite organizations and athletes until the only players that came out of my mouth were from ten and twenty years earlier. Thurman Munson. Ray Allen. Pat Reilly. Jim Kelly. Reggie Jackson. Separation complete.
Once my system completely purged itself, I was free. I was free to go running, write, use the newly cleansed portions of my brain for other things.
Every once in a while when no one was home, I’d throw on a Yankee, Buffalo or UConn game, and I’d feel the pull. It’s an addiction. I’d fall off the bandwagon and return to sports Betty Ford. Go…read…a…book. Then, I’d be clean and sober once again.
Even as a teacher, I left the sports behind. I used to go to every game, then I became a mom. Sometimes, I feel like being a mom makes me less of a teacher. I love students the same, but I don’t get to go to their things. I miss their sports.
So, today is Superbowl Sunday, a holiday bigger than Christmas and New Year’s combined. I’m ignoring my social media because it’s overwhelmingly game related. I did read an article that said Tom Brady is a weird food eater like me–that his teammates mock his hummus. I would never mock anyone’s hummus.
On that note, I’ll return to searching the web for food freakish recipes that remind me of sports fan food. I want to feel normal for once. Since we’re getting a snowstorm tonight, I might stay up just a little later than normal and watch the game to the last Superbowl commercial. In the mean time, I’ll get busy making Thai lettuce wrap “egg rolls” and some deviled eggs. That should do it for my party platter.
Then I’ll sit down with a nice cup of tea and join America in watching the one game I’ve seen all year.