It is no secret that my husband is a sports fan. He was raised in a culture of football, basketball and hockey from birth and there isn't a photograph in existence where someone in his family isn't wearing a tshirt or hat or sweatshirt bearing the logo of a beloved team.
It is also no secret that I detest most professional sports,but football gives me a black fizzle mark over my head that lasts for days. I have no interest in watching it,playing it or rehashing it in any way shape or form.I was raised in a family that eschewed team sports and chose singular activities including skiing, riding horses, hiking and inappropriate movies (I saw "Tommy" when I was six and went to the theater to see "Saturday Night Fever" when I was eight).
All of my early experiences with team sports were atrocious since I was awful at everything. Volleyball, soccer, softball- I dreaded it all and was always picked last for almost every team I was forced to play with.
I never scored the winning goal or served the set up shot that won the game, ever. The one time I happened to catch the softball waaaayy out in right field where nothing ever came, I simply put my mitt up in the air and closed my eyes. A miracle occurred. The teacher was absolutely shocked and actually ran out on the field mid game to congratulate me. That is how bad I was.
My husband, on the other hand, was a two time allstar hockey player, captain of almost every team he played with and can still hold his own in any flag football,basketball or hockey game that comes his way. He has albums filled with his newspapaper notices and photos of him with his hockey team. He often scored the winning goal and was never picked last, I assure you.He can also run like Forrest Gump.He starts and goes for an hour without stopping once. Many have tried to match his running stamina and no one has ever succeeded.
While my husband also enjoys the things I like, he really likes watching sports, a lot. I used to join in and perkily cheer on the team along side him, sometimes cheering on the wrong team because I had no idea what was going on. It all looked like the same clip of a game- guys in different colors running around and then falling down- over and over again.
I put in my time trying to enjoy his hobby from the very beginning- before marriage and kids.We traveled to various stadiums around the country to follow "the team " in football and basketball .Hawaii,San Francisco, Tucson, Minneapolis.We went to sports bars all around the country decked out in the appropriate colors and drank pitchers of Coors light and rubbed elbows with retired players and coaches. I would smuggle the Jack Daniels into the stadium in my underwear, and he would sneak it into his gigantic tumbler of diet coke with two straws. We would both get a little drunk, and I would get tired and he would cheer the team to the last second.If they won, he was elated and we would spend the rest of the evening out on the town celebrating the big win with hundreds of other fans. If we lost, he would sit as the fans filed out, crestfallen. We would go directly back to the hotel so he could sulk, or we would go get dinner somewhere that sports weren't being discussed. It was an aspect of the college experience I never got to have.
If we stayed home when "the team" was playing,we usually had a party.The only alcohol related blackout I can recall having was at our Superbowl Sunday 2003 party. We threw a huge shindig with food catered by me, indoor and outdoor tv's everywhere and plenty of booze.I had been asked to hide the money that all the guys bet on the game somewhere safe,which I did, and then promptly drank myself into a stupor and passed out. I awoke in the guest room hours later with no recollection of ever going in there, and had an entire conversation about where I had hidden the money. I had no recollection of where I had put it but, evidently, I awoke, told my husband that it was in the third drawer down in the kitchen, and passed out again. Not exactly "The Lost Weekend" but unsettling as hell.
Another time I fell asleep in the stadium during the third quarter of the big Arizona State-U of Arizona rivalry game. Thousands of fans screamed and cheered.We were right next to the unbelievably loud marching band.The noise was deafening. I slept on his shoulder with my head lolling about like "a bladder on a stick" (thank you AbFab). In my defense,we had consumed about forty pitchers of Coors Light at Dirtbag's Bar and Grill (don't even get me started about that place) and must have gone to the bathroom a dozen times before we found our seats.Once I get that sleepy feeling, nothing short of an airhorn will wake me up. My husband wasn't even upset.He was amazed, but not upset.
Now, I have tried to give some payback for the hours I spent sitting on uncomfortable benches next to annoying frat boys painted fire engine red from head to toe.I tried to come up with something I liked, that he would dread so I could stop the inevitable wearing of the red jeans and blue blazer( team colors) that lay ahead after our retirement.
I first tried the opera, thinking it would kill him to sit through all that singing and drama that he couldn't understand. I figured that he would really hate it.I even picked a German opera, thinking that it would be grueling enough to send him screaming from the mezzanine at the Ahmanson Theater and onto Grand Avenue. Well, my devious plot was foiled by the fact that he enjoyed the opera while I fought sleep the entire time,lolling head and all. I realized two things: I don't actually like opera all that much, and he might just be the perfect man. He likes it all.Fanfuckingtastic. I vainly tried a few spoken word events but Spalding Gray was actually interesting,so he was interested. The Mexican performance artisit Astrid Hadad was a little much for all of us.My grasp of Spanish only allowed me to understand about three percent of her dialogue. He didn't love it, but he didn't hate it as much as I disliked football games.
Then I found it, his achilles heel( insert diabolical laughter here). Back then, my place of employment was a West Hollywood bar kind of like the gay "Cheers". Amongst the wild variety of guests were a gaggle of drag queens who would descend after their show down the street and drink A LOT until closing.They had names like Bel Air and Sean De Lear and drank the complicated drinks that I always had to look up.They were hilarious,full of drama,raunchy jokes and were excellent tippers. They put on a drag revue at a nearby club one weekend, and I forced my sports nut to go with me. Let's just say he was not a fan of drag revues in general. This experience did not change his mind.Without the fabulous lighting and the costume designer from the "Pricilla Queen of the Desert" on board, it seemed a little bit like watching your nine year old do a dress up show while lip synching to an overplayed dance number.
My future husband was not impressed.He wasn't wrong, it wasn't exactly a Broadway show, but I liked it because they were my bar buddies who were really putting it out there.Everybody hooted and hollered except my man, who sat there looking grim and checking his watch or adjusting his jacket uncomfortably.
He was quiet as we walked to the car and made it abundantly clear that that would be the only drag revue of that caliber that he would ever see. I think he was responding more to the players than the lifestyle itself. He is as gay friendly as they come but they were definitely a motley fucking crew. Most of them had experienced something truly unrepeatably awful at some point in their lives. Some had HIV. All of them were covering up serious deep wounds in their psyches with all those one liners and eyeliner and pancake makeup. They were the most empathetic, generous, touching bunch I have ever encountered.But they were some seriously fucked up individuals.
I guess it is asking a lot to get an alpha male, die hard sports fan, who has a tender nature to understand a buffed out, fully waxed, possibly breast implanted drag queen who tucks his/her testicles up inside the cavity were they were before they dropped (evidently kind of painful) to appear more female and then puts on clothes that most prostitutes would consider risque and prances around on a stage silently mouthing the words to someone else's song.I am sure he felt like we had entered some alternate universe where all the men were wearing spandex mini skirts,red lipstick stiletto heels and Billy Idol sneers and all the women were in plaid shirts with no lipstick,work boots and also sporting Billy Idol sneers.
It eventually became apparent that I was truly miserable in the milieu that he so dearly loved:the tailgate, the endless t shirts,hats, tote bags, bottomless pitchers of crappy beer.My attendance got spottier and spottier until he stopped asking altogether.Now he takes our four year old and that is fine by me. Do I get a little nauseated when she trots out her mini cheerleading outfit and shakes her tush while she recites the U of A Wildcat chant by heart? I would say so, but I have realized something very important.
It's me.I am the weirdo, not him. As much as I would like to remain blissfully disdainful of this mass marketed,ignorance encouraging, over paid cultural void of a hobby that is football, the fact that millions and millions of people ascribe to it has to lend it some legitimacy.At some point, if everybody else is watching it and embracing it then, by default, I become the freak. Sort of like when you have those weeks where everyone else is always an asshole?At a certain point all you have to do to look in the mirror to find out who the real asshole is. Sigh....I still despise it though, just for the record.
I LOVE BEING THE WEIRDO....I am the weirdo.Yep, that's me....Hell, I'll be the fucking walrus if I have to(whatever the hell that song is about)just don't make me watch anymore football....