Sunday, February 2, 2014

Homemade signs, greasy food and the ghosts of S*per Bowls past

On average, I’d say I watch somewhere in the neighborhood of one full football game a year and it just so happens to be the Super Bowl. The large game. The grande enchilada.
That’s the only football game I’ll watch from the opening kickoff through the post-end credits scene where Sam Jackson shows up with a zany plan.
                  There’s really no reason for me to watch the aforementioned large game. I don’t have the stomach to gamble and I’m clearly not much of a football fan. On top of that, my office doesn’t even have a water cooler, so there’s nothing to gather around on Monday and dissect the Xs and Os of the game.
                And by Xs and Os I mean the commercials and the halftime show.
                Despite all of that, I still make it a point to watch and have since my days as a small boy.
                Every year my parents, sister and I would dine on hoagies and wings, eating them off football-themed plates and napkins. My dad would spend half the game reminding my mom of how football worked and the other half waving the white flag in the face of her never-ending onslaught of questions. Every single year.
                It warms the cockles of my heart just thinking about it. 
                Another tradition was the decorations. For whatever reason, as a youth I got it in my head that I needed to be the official decorating committee of my family’s Super Bowl festivities.
                So starting on Super Bowl eve, I’d cobble together a bunch of hand-made pennants with crudely scribbled slogans on them: Go Niners! Go Giants! Switzer’s a bum! And so forth like that.
                Then I’d wait for the first floor of our family home to clear out. I liked to work in private, so I’d dawdle until everyone wandered to other areas. Perhaps I thought it was best for artwork of that caliber to hit the audience all at one time. That way they could drink in the deep-seated commentary I was trying to convey in one giant gulp. 

 Once the coast was clear, I’d go to work taping these banners and musings – which would have been cute if they’d been scrawled by a first graders, but were probably mostly just depressing coming from a seventh or eighth grader – all across the house.
Even after my embarrassingly long fixation on homemade home decoration finally subsided, the Super Bowl was still a fun time.
As I aged, I spent several years working in retail and in retail-like jobs. During my time in those industries, I worked on every major and minor holiday from Christmas and my birthday to Arbor Day and that one where everyone must talk like a pirate all day. Yet I never once worked on a Super Bowl.
Looking back on it now, I’m not sure if this was something I actively sought or it just worked out that way. But it is a fact.
The family-gatherings have since ceased, but I still look at Super Bowl Sunday as a certified mid-carder on the holiday spectrum. No matter where it’s spent, it’s still nice to surround myself on that day with greasy food and pretend like the game is something special, even though without fail any shine is guaranteed to wear off after each team has possessed the ball one time.
By then the realization hits me that it’s just another football game full of players whose names I don’t know.
And then there’s the fact that the commercials are never as good as people expect and the halftime show always disappoints, but hell, all of that is tradition too.
Maybe the reason non-football people like myself and my family got so wrapped up in the Super Bowl is timing. The game is a late-January/early-February event.
January sucks and so in that way, the Super Bowl is more of a celebration that we’ve put that barren wasteland behind us and we’re inching closer towards Valentine’s Day, spring, my birthday and summer.                 
                All the good and important stuff that this country holds sacred. Or maybe, more likely, we all just really like flip our New Year’s resolutions the bird and eat greasy food without having to feel bad about it for just one day.

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