People have mixed opinions about my complete disregard for sports. Those who know of my role as the first-born child to a professional baseball player tend to find it endearing but in a pitiable way, like I’m the apple that fell far from the tree and rolled down the hill to lay there, rotting and passed over even by famished animals. Then there are those who find it upsetting, as though my disinterest in sports is in league with shaking babies and defacing national monuments.
The Super Bowl tends to draw recruits for the latter camp. All the people who thought it was cute to quiz me about the teams involved in playoff games so they could hear gems, such as “the Packers versus the … Buicks?” suddenly are rapt with attention for the game and find antics out of me distracting and — as my own father has said — communist.
My lethargy for sports can be hidden well enough during the rest of the year. No one really expects a mother of three to know who’s leading the nation in their rushing game, which is advantageous for me — because most of the time I couldn’t even tell you what sport is in season. When my son’s father protested his participation in lacrosse, I was baffled, believing I was going to earn sports points — a numerical system I’ve devised, in case it might ease me into heaven — for having enlisted our child in a team sport of my own accord.
“It’s a conflicting season,” he protested. I stared blankly as he attempted to draw an answer out of me with his own wild eyes.
“With—” I started cautiously, “the Tony awards?”
Baseball proved to be the correct answer.
In college, my boyfriend never minded that I rarely sat on the sidelines to cheer him on at rugby matches, expecting instead to hear my glowing support post-game: “If you don’t have cauliflower ear yet, that’s a win in my book!” He never cared that I didn’t want to watch “Monday Night Football.” He didn’t care that I didn’t want to take in any matches at the Olympics the year we lived in Australia — the year they hosted the games. He definitely did care, though, when I mistakenly referred to the Super Bowl as the Super Fest over dinner with his family. It sounded right in my own head, so I just kept saying it, with a bravado only those who know nothing about — and care nothing for — a topic can muster. We broke up a short while later, and I’m certain his parents have never referred to me as the one who got away.
After receiving a very, very large flatscreen television for a wedding gift — a real boon for the husband but a letdown for me, only because I figured it was a new apartment when it stood wrapped before me — I became the unwitting host of Super Bowl parties. They came for the TV, the processed cheese and the beer named by men with beards. They stopped coming the year I fell asleep on the couch before halftime.
That’s the problem with me and the Super Bowl. I find it as tedious as every other game; but at least at every other game, I can find another bored soul with whom to strike up conversation. Nobody cares that I’ve fallen asleep in the bean dip when it’s a regular-season game between the 79ers and the LeSabres. During a regular game, I can count on the crowd looking away from the screen during commercial breaks, at least; but during the Super Bowl, everyone must see firsthand what the gecko will do, where the Clydesdales will go and whether someone has a public wardrobe malfunction.
I could be off the hook with this year’s Super Bowl, though. I live in a house with only one small TV that plays only Netflix. No longer is there a Y chromosome under this roof, other than that of a 6-year-old who thinks the Super Bowl is a bowling alley. We hadn’t been invited to watch it anywhere else, likely owing to my enthusiastic suggestion to play Pictionary during last year’s big game.
Still, each time I visited the grocery store during the past couple of weeks, I noticed the end caps had become increasingly more festooned with elements of patriotism and victory and festivity. A rueful feeling lodged in my chest, and I wondered whether it was too late to get ourselves invited to someone’s house for the game. So I texted my friend known for her warm gatherings and stick-to-your-ribs vittles and asked — begged — if we could be invited to her place for the Super Fest.
Bowl! Super Bowl!