I’m Watching the Game. Don’t Talk to Me.
Super Bowl LI is set. New England versus Atlanta. Supermarkets stack soda cases in football-themed pyramids; the aisle endcaps overflow with chips, dips and salsa; the display refrigerators are stuffed with hot wings, veggie trays and endless platters of rolled meats. It’s the big game, which means it’s time for the big party. I hate Super Bowl parties. Always have. When I watch the game I want to see, and hear, every second of action and analysis. Especially when my team, the Patriots, are playing.
I resent people who treat Super Bowl parties like other social events, talking over the commentators and crossing in front of the TV towards the snacks oblivious that they are blocking the view of the diehard fans. I don’t want the hostess to stop in front of me offering cute little football-shaped sandwiches accompanied by theme-colored napkins. Put the snacks on the turf-covered table and leave me alone. I loathe the interloper who ignores the game while chatting up other guests but then perks up when everyone is yelling and asks to no one in particular: “What happened?”
My husband tolerates my passion for football, and the Patriots, but only barely. He knows not to talk to me during the game and is pretty good at running interference if a friend or neighbor happens to stop by, especially if that person tries to talk to me. My husband interjects: “She can’t hear you – the Patriots are on.”
I have been consumed by football, and particularly the Patriots, my whole life no matter where I lived. When I was young my family moved around quite a bit but I consider myself a New Englander. Most, if not all, of my extended family are dedicated Patriots fans. When we gathered for games, including the Super Bowl, we never used the party as an excuse to catch up. There was no idle chit chat. Our communication was game-centric when watching football and even more so on those magical times when the Patriots were playing.
The last time the Patriots won the Super Bowl I broke my own rule and attended a neighborhood party. My friends know how intense I am about the game and lured me to their house promising to keep the non-loyalists at bay. This was a risky move because the Patriots were playing the Seahawks the year tainted by a certain unmentionable controversy courtesy of Commissioner Goodell. In addition, my husband and I were bringing our ten-month-old little girl (dressed in Patriots attire, of course) and, rather selfishly, I had to depend on my husband to keep her occupied, which limited his ability to keep people away from me. My little girl is a Patriots fan in the making. She exclaims “Mama!” whenever she sees the square-jawed icon covering the many clothing items in our home.
The game was going fairly well both from a scoring perspective and a personal one. When someone tried to engage in small talk the host promptly stepped in and led the person to the snack table. During halftime another friend tried to discuss the clever ads but I cut her off excusing myself for a pretend visit to the restroom. I didn’t need a trite conversation about puppies playing football trickling into the second half which turned out to be a nail-biter. The last few minutes were torture.
With a minute and six seconds left, and New England up by four, Seattle’s Jermaine Kearse made the miraculous catch inside the ten yard line. The Seahawks flirted with victory as I stood at the back of the room ready to escape once the game ended. A few people gave me a conciliatory half hug as the Patriots clung to their stingy lead. I shrugged an “Oh well” fantasizing about punching the disingenuous well-wishers in the gut. They wanted New England to lose. What was I doing here? If Seattle scored I reasoned that Brady could engineer a last second touchdown victory. I could not wait to get out of that house. With 24 seconds left Seattle blessed New England with a pass play. Thank you, Butler. I headed home, replayed the last minute twenty times, and vowed never to attend another Super Bowl party.