Attention warm wonderful wives, patient partners, cuddly companions and gracious girlfriends – you are officially on a 336-hour clock. For when the hour strikes, you will be a widow; a sports spinster kicked to the curb by an opening-day kickoff; a stark reality in a freewheeling fantasy game.
That’s because football season starts Sept. 12. Now, you’ll be told that it actually begins three days prior. It does. However, you begin your descent into Dante’s Sports Inferno that Sunday and your only hope is to slide on your asbestos Capri pants and enjoy the ride.
Many of you remember when this fervor only meant sitting through a single football game, a one-shot, three hour cone of silence that eventually yielded a drunk, happy guy who fell asleep on the couch.
Well, that’s gone because there’s fantasy football, ESPN, DirecTV and the Internet. So, not only is he following his Steelers, Giants or Cowboys closer than a stripping Hooters waitress, he’s keeping up with the other 29 teams in the league just as closely. Why? His fantasy football roster is made up of players from almost all the other teams in the league, so now every football game has become important. It's a little like this: instead of shifting eyes to glance at one girl on the street, now, every girl walking by has SOME kind of upside, even the one with the bad perm.
Now, there are men who do not like sports. They do not watch football. A baseball game bores them. Competition means seeing how quickly they can check-in at Starbucks via FourSquare. They prefer wine over beer; cardigans to card games. They enjoy discussing the more expansive works of Chaucer and Dostoevsky over a quick game of hoops at the gym.
Most sports-loving men call those guys “women.” If this is your husband, fiancé, boyfriend or Boy Friday, you can stop reading now. All the best. However, if he's not toting a messenger bag filled with vulnerability, then please ... read on.
What you need to understand is that this is our day; a day when testosterone waves crash upon rocks of masculinity; a day when guys will make a belch long enough to sound like a Metallica tune; when under arm fart noises and the discussion of the hottest “Charmed” sister means something. It’s a celebration of guns and boobs and cussing and liquor and gambling, a 24-hour men’s day spa and the 32 NFL teams across the country are the hands pressing into our skin.
Of course, we realize there are women who love football. They’ll wear the jersey, watch the game and scream at referees right along side their husbands. They know the players and may even have expertise on the formations, plays and strategies. Some even participate in the same fantasy football leagues, party at the same tailgate parties and live with much the same passion for their teams as men.
And we thank all seven of you. However, that is not the norm.
So, to help stave off a swarm of nationwide male homicides and ensure we all make it through this sunrise-to-well-after-sunset gridiron orgy, I’m offering these eight bits of counsel:
1. Plan ahead. Use this article to realize that your expectations and his expectations are going to collide more than once this football season, but especially on opening day. We ask you to manage your expectations because we will not manage ours. Men managing their own expectations is a little like junkies managing their own supply of crack, or wishing that pile of dirty clothes we build each week beside the bed will magically go away. It won’t happen without a little help from you.
Should the planning-ahead contingency fail, then …
2. Tell him to leave. Really. Shove him, his flannel shirt, his beat-up Bass Pro Shops ball cap and the shower he did not take out the door. Push him toward a sports bar or another friend’s flat screen television. If he doesn’t like it, remind him how much he hated sleeping in the Prius for three nights the last time he pulled something like this. His still-aching back and the crick in his neck will motivate him to zoom out the door with Twitter-like speed. (Note: other friends’ wives and girlfriends may pursue the same strategy and a gaggle of husbands could wind up confused, cold and lonely in the middle of the cul-de-sac with nothing but their smart phones and television remotes feening for the Fox pre-game show. Use caution).
If he can’t or won’t leave, then …
3. You leave. Really. Just get out of the house. Find a way to make yourself and anything else that might obscure the television screen (or, in many cases, televisions) scarce. You're persona non grata anyway. Go to Mom’s for the day. Maybe even spend the night. The first game starts at 1 p.m. and the last one won’t end until around midnight Eastern Standard Time. We love you, the children (if we have them) and everything about our relationships, but this day is about bloody, sweaty, fat men in dirty tight spandex pants passionately smashing their torsos against one another over and over again.
If neither you nor he can be convinced to leave then …
4. Don't enter the room with the football noises and men in it. If he doesn’t have a mancave (heresy!), then the congregation will probably happen in your living room. Consider this a “no fly” zone for the next 10 hours. Your presence signals danger. Also, remember that room is going to end up smelling like nacho cheese, cheap beer, hot wings, co-mingled flatulence, motor oil and sausage. If his friends are over, multiply that by 10. Don’t discount your new couch being christened with beer stains. Crumbs will dot your hardwood floors until you sell the house.
Along the same lines …
5. Don’t bust the mojo. There will be several moments throughout the day where he’ll need to pee, stretch, feed, and scratch. Those are called commercials, halftime and “those moments between the first, second and third game.” In between, while games are actually on, his focus on football is so pinpoint, he could burn ants. Those breaks are your opportunities to check in and update him on things like “I’m going to run to the store,” “The nursery is on fire” and “Our pool boy Fernando will be keeping me company for the rest of the day.” You’ll get something like a quick wave, a grunt and the satisfaction of being able to hire someone named Fernando to do almost anything for you. Ole!
If you feel hurt or suddenly feel the urge to be one of the guys and just hang out …
6. Don't. Every guy understands this is a false flag operation intended to erode at the half-life of their opening-day football viewing experience. Sure. You’ll show interest in the gameand how it’s played. You’ll say something about how hard the players hit one another. Then, inevitably, you’ll mention how nice Tom Brady’s ass looks in a pair of football pants which eventually leads to picking the winner of a game based on the color of its uniform. As Elton John once said, “I’ve seen that movie, too.” We get it. You don’t like sports. We do. This is our DMZ. Honor it.
You’ll probably feel rejected, a little hurt and spurned but do NOT …
7. Break out the honeydew list. The trash, laundry and mopping can wait. The burned-out closet light bulb, the broken knob on the chest of drawers and anything else that can be thought up while you’re under duress can be placated until a day after Peyton Manning rifles his first touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne. Also …
7a. Bonus! Don't start a task you cannot complete on your own that day like, say, moving the California king-sized bed from one side of the master bedroom to another. “Can you take a break and help me with this?” will fall upon Joe Buck-Troy Aikman clogged ears and only lead to the sort of passive aggressive behavior that broke up Pink Floyd. And dammit -- I don't want Pink Floyd broken up again.
Finally, if you’ve seen the light of compromise and get what’s happening, then this is a good time to …
8. Go buy anything you want. Jewelry. New china. More cats. A Ford Excursion. Given the bratwurst-and-cheese induced haze he's in, he won't notice it until the next bank statement rolls in. And if you do the bills, he may never notice. He’ll just plop down in the driver’s seat of the new SUV, wrinkle his brow for a second and then put it into gear. Give him beef jerky before handing him the keys, and it’s like nothing ever happened.
Remember, Dante’s Inferno dropped only nine levels. Yours lasts 20 weeks through winter. You’ve got 336 hours to prepare and a lifetime left of these things to look forward to.
Ready … break!
(Jason is a freelance writer and illustrator and a regular contributor to An Army of Ermas. You can read more from Jason on his website at http://www.jasontudor.com/ or by visiting his Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/JasonTudor)