Somewhere between middle and high school, right around the time my hormones were reporting more traffic than the Port Authority, I started watching football.
It wasn’t because I was into sports; in fact, far from it. What caught my attention was the appealing buffet of butts in an assortment of shapes and sizes; all poured into fitted, white football pants.
Butts, butts and more butts. That’s the only reason I watched football. On Monday nights, occasional Saturday afternoons and most Sundays, I presided as the official Mayor of Buttropolis, Governor of Gluteustown, and Chairman of the Behind.
Not so different from an episode of “Baywatch,” the plot was totally irreverent, the storyline ancillary and it didn’t matter who was in it. As long as there were slow motion replays and linebackers, I was parked in front of the television.
After years of duly serving as a spectator of the seat, I eventually transitioned from watching a bunch of guys bending over and doing complicated maneuvers with balls to actually watching the games and became a fan.
Though I’m no John Madden (even if I do vaguely resemble him after a day or two without a shower), I know enough about the game to be dangerous and have been known to try to talk football with other fans who, more often than not, tend to fall into the testosterone-filled category. It never goes well.
At family gatherings my husband’s dad and brother-in-law usually talk right over me if I bring up draft picks or two-point conversions. Occasionally if they do listen it’s with wide eyes and puzzled expressions as if I’d suddenly started speaking in binary code.
I’m never sure if it’s because 1) I’m a former Minnesota Vikings fan, which, OK, I understand. Or, 2) I’m a girl and sometimes want to talk about Tom Brady’s passing game and purchasing new throw pillows in the same conversation.
Whatever the reason, they still permit me into the sacred football TV room during games, which is a lot like a maximum security prison during lunchtime. It’s chaotic, loud and it’s possible that someone could get shanked reaching for the buffalo chicken dip.
I’m actually surprised that they let me in at all and not just because I have estrogen. Throughout the years I’ve come to realize that there are only two kinds of football fans; normal people and rabid, saliva-spitting screamers who suffer some sort of complete emotional breakdown in the minutes between timeouts and commercial breaks.
For the sake of full disclosure, I am the latter.
I’m not sure why, but the minute I see a play clock I go from peacefully clipping BJ’s coupons to battling the urge to smear on face paint and smash a beer can into my forehead.
That probably explains why the non-football members of our family make a hasty retreat to a separate TV room where they can watch stuff like Giada De Laurentiis making pasta dishes from stick butter and bacon while still not weighing more than a postage stamp.
Once, after I nearly blacked out from a fit of rage during a football game, my mother-in-law ventured from the Food Network room with the same look she has when she gets something she didn’t want for Christmas.
“The sound of your voice,” she said accentuating each syllable, “feels like someone driving nails into my head.”
I can’t blame her. I’m sure it’s like listening to a civil defense siren going off for the better part of three hours with only halftime and wine refills to break it up.
This was no more apparent than during last year’s Super Bowl. At the moment the Patriots intercepted the Seahawks to win the game I shrilled uncontrollably like a tea kettle left on the stove at full boil and then promptly wet my pants, a little.
It counts as the single best day of my life right after fitting back into pre-maternity clothes and eating my first Dairy Queen Blizzard.
I admit, however, that despite my unflinching fandom, I still don’t know everything about football. In fact, I have no idea what a tight end is or even does. But I can tell you this much; I know one when I see it.