Wednesday, February 8, 2017

are you ready for some football

I find myself eavesdropping on the various people who, like me, are waiting for the train to arrive and take us to work. I stand on the platform and watch the same faces I see every morning walk across the wooden planks — some clutching briefcases under their arms, some dragging large, wheeled cases behind them — and take the same relative waiting positions they take every morning (myself included). I don't eavesdrop on purpose. I am not particularly interested in the random, nonsensical chit-chat I hear. Some of my fellow commuters just talk so goddamn loud, that I can't help but hear every detail of their usually inane conversations. I often find it maddening, but I guess I also find it amusing — otherwise I wouldn't write about it so often. Or maybe I don't want to feel alone in my torture. Why should you miss out?

Yesterday was Monday, the day after Super Bowl 51, in which the mighty New England Patriots captured another record-breaking victory. I believe, if my knowledge of football is what I think it is, they have won every Super Bowl that has ever been played. I don't know. I could be wrong, but actually, I don't give a shit. I have never watched a complete football game in my life. Growing up, my father and my brother watched every sports contest that flashed across our television. Football, baseball, basketball. (My brother watched hockey alone because my father said it moved too goddamn fast for him.) Not me! I never watched any of it. I had no interest. Later in my life, I became an avid baseball fan, but that wasn't until the late 90s when my wife and I purchased Phillies season tickets so we could go to the All-Star Game in our hometown. We kept those tickets for eighteen seasons. But before that, I couldn't tell a home run from a field goal — and I didn't care.

I am not afraid to admit that I am not a sports fan. I have other interests to occupy my time. I know plenty of sports fans, some of whom can't understand how I don't care about three-pointers and clipping. They marvel at my belief that "foul" refers to my preference of language and "icing" is something that decorates a birthday cake. I am offended when some "dude" asks me if I know the score of a particular game just because I'm a guy and all guys follow sports and know all scores. Or when I tell someone I'm from Philadelphia, they immediately pummel me with questions about the Eagles. (Y'know, we have the Liberty Bell, too!) I don't pretend to know about sports and I certainly don't jump on the "fan bandwagon" if my city's team is doing well or during any sport's playoff time.

So, around 7:45 a.m. the day after the Super Bowl, I see some woman sit down on a bench at the train station and start a loud conversation about the game.
First Woman: Did you watch the Super Bowl? 
Second Woman: Well, we're not really much of a football family. Actually, we're not a football family at all. We watched the Super Bowl, 'cause... y'know. Jacob doesn't like football, but he's a Steelers fan and, evidently, if you like the Steelers, then you can't like the Patriots. They're like cross-division adversaries or something. So, we're not supposed to like the Patriots. But, I didn't even watch the whole game. I watched the first half and then I went upstairs and — y'know — did my own thing. I did some baking, too, because we all like to get together for Tu B'Shevat*.
By the time the train arrived, my head had exploded all over the platform.

* Tu B'Shevat, or "Tubishvat" as the guttural pronunciation goes, marks the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. It's essentially Jewish Arbor Day, and possibly, worth a day off from work.

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