I’ve never watched a (American) football game in my life. I went to a few when I was in college at the University of Wisconsin Madison because they do this thing called the “5th quarter“, which was just an excuse to drink and sing and act foolish, but I never actually watched the game and wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on if I did. One of my first memories of childhood, however, was loving the green and gold Green Bay Packers flag on the wall in one of our bedrooms — undoubtedly, one of my brother’s. I thought it was pretty. I also thought Gene Simmons in my brother’s Kiss posters was pretty. I was five.
My father’s family, which is huge — he has 8 siblings and most of them had big families — is from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, about an hour from Green Bay. We were indoctrinated. Packers’ fans treat it like a religion. It kind of blows my mind. Fans bequeath tickets in their wills and put their newborn kids on the 86,000-person wait list (although, it’s futile since the wait is estimated to be more than 955 years).
Fans of the Seattle Seahawks (the football team here) are
insane rabid scary enthusiastic. They call themselves “The 12th Man” and have caused a few magnitude 2 earthquakes with their stomping and screaming. They’ve even been enlisted by seismologists to help test an earthquake early warning system. If I could disconnect my ever-present headache (and leave the house), I actually think it would be fun to be in the crowd at a Seahawks game and feel that vibration. The same way I think a crazy windstorm is fun or a roller coaster. Or a Halloween house of horrors. Being surrounded by the energy generated to make that happen would be an experience. Packers’ fans aren’t as loud as Seahawks’ fans. It’s more a reverence… but, just as passionate.
Today, thanks to my Dad, I know that both teams are in a playoff game (to determine who goes to the Superbowl) in Seattle. And, if my Dad hadn’t told me and I had managed to avoid the hoopla because I’m housebound (which I did because I am), I would have realised something big was happening this morning when I looked at Facebook and saw nothing but my Seattle friends’ posts about the Seahawks and my family’s posts about the Packers. Endless scrolling of green and gold and navy and green. Photos of kids in wee team outfits, face paint, nail polish…
Even my European friends seem to have gone quiet. No port in the Facebook football storm. I feel like the only person in Seattle who doesn’t have the TV on. I feel like the only person in my (Dad’s) family not paying attention to the score. I’m alone here, with my tea, typing in silence and the only reason I know the Seahawks are probably losing is because there have been no booming fireworks exploding nearby and terrifying my dog.
I don’t want to be around the screaming and stomping. Even before I had chronic, unending, tortuous daily headaches, I hated when I worked in the restaurants while games were playing on the televisions. Even without the volume, people were glued to the sets and I would be obliviously, peacefully working away when, suddenly, all hell would break lose and, startled, I’d hit the ceiling. It never failed to rattle the shit out of me. I’d glower at the cheering fans and silently will them back to the privacy of their own homes (but smile sweetly at the tables, of course).
Oddly, though, today, I’m a bit more melancholy about the whole thing. Today’s Facebook feed has magnified my loneliness the same way it did over the holidays. So many people together, happy, bonded, having fun. I was groggy and stiff and sore, still in bed at 11am, looking at photos of my friends downtown in their woolly hats, going to the game. Something about it being in real time spiked my jealousy. I’m in this dark room, feeling awful, like I do every morning, and there are my friends downtown, RIGHT NOW, out in the world, in the crisp air, holding lattes, grinning with their arms around each other. And here I am. Even my husband went to meet his sister at the PUB to have BREAKFAST and watch the game and be a part of a COMMUNITY. You know I’m missing society something awful if I’m coveting a stinky bar full of sports fans (I always want greasy pub food, so that’s not a good barometer of my loneliness).
Oh, joy. Seattle must have scored. It sounded like a bomb went off in my front garden. It had to be the neighbours across the street. Even my smaller dog is scared and he’s bulletproof. Bowie, the big highly-strung pup, just squeezed in terror behind my chair, taking all the electrical cords with him. My computer hit the ground, as did my sun light box. The Little Guy is under my legs, under the table, shaking and whining. I just closed the front door, pulled the curtains and turned on Classical Masterpieces at full volume. Whatever’s playing isn’t very soothing, though, it sounds like I should be in an intergalactic cartoon space fight.
And another bomb outside. Seattle must be making a comeback. And another. Jesus! The bulletproof-no-longer dog just bolted downstairs to the basement, eyes rolling uncontrollably (he has literally never reacted to fireworks) and the big one just crashed through the gate that’s supposed to stop him from going upstairs into my bedroom. He’s panting like he’s in shock. Whoohoo! Sports are fun! I take it back, I don’t want to be a part of the camaraderie. Things just got ugly. I better go comfort the children.