Why I should probably stop trying to talk about sports


I was never much of a sports fan, so I have a hard time picking up the lingo.  Partner is a diehard sports fan (football, hockey, baseball), and I have picked up some odds and ends from him.  It was also helpful to have a college football player working for me last summer; he had obviously explained the sport to his elderly female relatives, so he knew all the right terms to use to help me understand it. (When I asked him what position he played, he told me he was a linebacker.  When I looked blank, he added helpfully, “I just push people around.”)  Also, as I grow older and more wizened-looking, people – especially men my own age – assume that I know all about sports.  And who am I to disappoint them?



A few weeks ago, a couple of weeks before the Super Bowl, one of the university shuttle drivers hailed me at lunchtime and pulled over and asked: “Who do you like this weekend?


I laughed in what I hoped was the correctly rueful tone.  “Well,” I said, “they’d better win.” (By “them,” of course, I meant the New England Patriots, the local favorites.)



He chuckled and waved.  “It’s gonna be a tough one,” he said.  “I don’t know.”



He drove off.  I was very pleased with my performance on that one; he’d been a semi-pro player and a football coach, so if I could fool him, I figured I could fool anyone.



But then this happened:



The Patriots had just won the AFC championship by three points.  (Partner was ecstatic, naturally.)  After the game, I went down to the health club.  I was checked in by a skinny kid who was staring at the after-game show on the TV over the desk.  “Is everyone happy?” I said.



He looked at me blankly.  “Why?”



I gestured up at the TV set.  “The game.”



He looked up again, still blank.  “The – oh, the game.” 



I tried one more time.  “Everybody was happy at the end? Everybody cheered?”



He gave me that simpering grin that you give a gibbering child or a person with an impenetrable accent, and looked away from me. 



I will never try this again.  I’m obviously still not doing it right.


Super Bowl XLVI


As you are probably aware, New England lost the Super Bowl last weekend.



Partner retreated into the other room immediately after the end of the game. He does not like losing.  He is a born New Englander, and he is used to losing, but he prefers to win.  The Red Sox have finally broken their losing streak – twice over the last decade – and the Bruins won the Stanley Cup just last year, and the Patriots have won the Super Bowl three times.



But not this year.



Here’s the thing: New England teams are not terribly attractive to the rest of the nation.  When the Patriots last lost the Super Bowl, the Onion headlined: “Patriots’ Season Perfect For Rest Of Nation.”



We are hated, we know.  When our teams lose, we have to put up with a lot of gloating by fans of the other teams, who now feel that their hatred is justified.



And now we sulk in defeat.



But you just wait!  We’ll be back.



And as a recent issue of the Onion so cleverly put it, in a piece written just before the playoffs: “NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Opponents may think they’re not what they were when they were younger, but have they considered Tom Brady might get even more handsome with gray hair?”



(He will, you know.)

The effect of Tom Brady on middle-aged women and gay men


The day after the big Patriots-Ravens game, everyone was talking about the Patriots victory, and about Tom Brady. 



This is an approximation of the conversation between me and my workfriends Cathleen and Apollonia:



“I didn’t think he was cute before.  I’m sort of coming around to him.”



“Oh, he’s just fine.”



“Meh.  Not my type.”



“Well, but he’s growing into his looks, finally.  He used to look kind of gangling and boyish.  He’s filled out very nicely.”



I’ll say.”



“Do you remember when he hosted Saturday Night Live ten years ago? He was cute.  He did a sketch about sexual harassment, and he just wore his underwear, and none of the women in the office considered it sexual harassment.”



“What kind of underwear?”  (Okay, that was Apollonia.)



“Tighty whiteys.”  (This was me. The vision is stamped on my memory.  See the above photo if you’ve never seen the sketch itself; I couldn’t find the clip online.  NBC guards its property jealously.)



“Oh,” said Cathleen (okay, we’re all out of the closet now).  “I would have pictured something more elegantYou know.”  She gestured downward.  “Not boxers, but something really nice and form-fitting.”


“These were mighty form-fitting,” I said.



“Oh my God!” Apollonia burst out.  “What are we doing?  What kind of people are we?  Why are we having this conversation?”



Cathleen and I paused for a moment.  Then we both smiled.  “Because,” I said, “we find the subject fascinating.”



(And to think I spent all those years not caring about sports!)


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