The Super Bowl Party

I waited a few weeks to write a post about my Super Bowl party because whatever event you attended on February 3 was shit by comparison.  Sorry, cialis usa diagnosis but it’s the truth.  And I didn’t want any residual jealousy, and you know, so close to the experience.\n\nI watched the game with my mother-in-law Nada and my wife Milena in our Edgewater apartment.  We gorged ourselves on homemade chili!  We added extra hot sauce!  We guzzled beers!\n\nTwo, it was two beers exactly I think.  And Nada didn’t drink because she had to walk home to her apartment on the other side of the building.  You shouldn’t drink and walk, it could lead to wandering, or skipping!  Anyways, the party was off the hook.\n\nWhat makes any party great is the company.  And I was joined by two people for whom I have great affection.  One thing though, they don’t know a lick about football.\n\nMilena and Nada moved here from Serbia, where the game folks know as football is played with feet and a ball, not hands and an ellipsoid-thingy.  And although Milena and Nada are sports fans, and have lived in this country for many years, “American football” is not a game they’ve taken to.\n\nThere are a few reasons for this; reasons we can understand if we step outside of this warm haven we call the American mainstream milieu.\n\nFootball satisfies the American appetite for violence.  There is reveling in the seismic crunch of clashing hats and pads, cheering for athletes colliding at full force, and giddiness at the sight of helmets hitting the turf with such force that players go woozy.  I guess it’s understandable that some outside of American sports fandom find this kind of brutality troubling.\n\nThe game is fast and furious, but also involves a lot of huddling and standing around while television audiences get interrupted by ads for Gillette razors and Dodge Hemi-injected vehicles.  For people who grew up with, say, tennis and soccer—games that share a more constant pace and fewer breaks—the football stop and start thing is kind of off-putting.\n\nDespite some of its more brutish characteristics, tactically football is a highly intellectual endeavor.  Also, for a linear game in which the object is simply to get from one end of the field to the other, the rules are pretty complex.  This creates quite a learning curve for newbies and a barrier to entry for anyone not so enamored with football’s first impressions (see paragraphs above).\n\nSo there I was at our Super Bowl bash, lounging in an armchair in the living room—my mouth in pepper induced chili spicytopia, and the flat screen TV in full pixelpalooza!  Nada rested comfortably on the sofa, while Milena graded practice exams for her AP Art History class at the dining room table (ahh, the glorious life of a CPS teacher).\n\nAt kickoff, the serious business began.  The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers launched into a pitched battle for athletic supremacy, while it was my monumental charge to teach my mother-in-law football.\n\nThink I’m overstating it?  Then you haven’t tried explaining football to someone who doesn’t have the first clue as to what’s happening on the field.\n\nTry educating a person of sound mind on the concept of down and distance, and the relevance of the yellow and blue lines on the field, which are computer generated because the actual lines are imaginary, represented by the guy in the neon outfit holding a giant wedge of orange foam.  You get looks like you belong in an asylum!\n\nAnd just when you think you’ve explained the ins and outs of the kicking game, including the merits of punting or attempting a field goal on fourth down… Bam!  The Ravens fake a kick.  Now you have to go back and qualify previous remarks.\n\nIt won’t be the only time, because teaching football is an exercise in ithoughyousaids:\n\nA LaMichael James touchback—ithoughtyousaid they run back the kick off.\n\nJacoby Jones pops up off the ground and scores—ithoughtyousaid the player is down when his knee touches the ground.\n\nA 49ers two point conversion attempt—ithoughtyousaid they kick for the extra point.\n\nI’d been explaining football for an hour and I swear Nada thought I was making it up as I went along.\n\nWhen finally I felt that I was making some progress, like a light was about to go on in Nada’s head, the lights went out on the field.  That’s right, a power outage at the Super Bowl!\n\nTen, twenty, thirty minutes ticked by.  I wriggled in my chair impatiently.  Feeling testy and pretty uninhibited (I was a few sips into my second beer), I started to rant:\n\n“What a perfect metaphor for America.\n\nI mean, there is nothing more American than the Super Bowl, right?  The NFL and the TV network tell us so, with all of their Stars and Stripes, armed service personnel, and God Bless Americas.\n\nWell here it is—America: overindulgent and defiantly arrogant, in all of its megawatt-sucking-opulence, butting up against the reality of finite resources and an aging infrastructure.\n\nBut that’s ok, look no further than this 90-second commercial to see what a joyful people we are, with synergistic relationships between us and the benign products we consume.\n\nWhat nonsense.\n\nI want to shout:  ‘Hey Doritos, Taco Bell, and Coke: you make us fat and give us diabetes!  Hey Ram Trucks: Paul Harvey’s world is gone; all that’s left are farm factories and evil agro-corporations exploiting contract farmers and migrant laborers!  Hey Budweiser: your beer tastes like Clydesdale piss!’…\n\nThis is not a football game, it’s a shell game: diverting collective attention from our troubles and turmoil.\n\nThe Super Bowl is a lie; the power outage is the truth!”\n\nAt the conclusion of my diatribe I looked around for affirmation.  Milena’s chair at the dining room table was empty.  Bathroom break, I guess.  Nada was snoozing on the couch (I couldn’t blame her; we’d been partying for like two hours by that point).  Oh well.\n\nI gazed again at the television.  “Oooo, lights are back on!” I yelled gleefully—because for as much as I’m irked by sports-entertainment spectacles, I do enjoy the spectacle of competitive athletics.  If that makes any sense…\n\nAnyways, the game got under way again.  And Nada was up and at ‘em, getting into it as the Niners staged their late comeback.  To witness her was a beautiful thing.\n\n“Second down, five yards to go…”\n\nGood Nada.\n\n“First down!…”\n\nGood.\n\n“Sack!…”\n\nYes.\n\n“Fumble!…”\n\nYes!\n\n“Touchdown!”\n\nYes!!\n\nBy the middle of fourth quarter Nada was practically doing the play-by-play.  It was all going swimmingly until Ravens punter Sam Koch received the snap in Baltimore’s end zone with 12 seconds left in the game.\n\nKoch shimmied to his right and then scampered out of bounds for a safety.  The punter had intentionally scored 2 points against his own team.\n\nI glanced over at Nada, who was looking at me with wide eyes that said “What the …?”.\n\nAt a loss for words, I threw my hands into the air.  I didn’t even know where to start.\n\nNada cut me some slack.  “Forget it,” she said, turning to watch the Ravens celebrate on the Superdome turf.\n\nSoon after, she rose to leave, thanking me for explaining football to her.  Milena and I waived from the doorway as Nada walked silently down the hallway toward her apartment.\n\nShe didn’t have to say what we were all thinking: the party rocked!

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One comment

  1. Bill Vernon

    Hi Chris,

    I just happened to read your brilliant commentary on the big game. It was on my “AOL” site, which I never use anymore. Not only that they relegated it to AOL spam, which was totally unfair. In any event I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was humorous, well written and the cast of characters was outstanding. Keep up the good work.