There was a priest at my family’s church when I was little who used to ask everyone to bow their heads and pray for whichever team he himself was rooting for. Generally, the congregation would laugh at the joke but you know, I’m not so sure he was kidding. People are funny about football and I highly doubt that Father Dave is the only one in America who shoots some pigskin-related prayers out into the universe.
My wake-up call about football and football fans came when I was about nine years old. I dare say that I had a more traumatic football experience than Charlie Brown. (I know, that’s a bold statement. Think of all the times poor Chuck didn’t kick that football.) I was in girl scouts when I was younger and, after years of only selling cookies while accompanied by an adult, I was determined to rack up points on my own. With the agreement that I’d stick to our street, I set off to remind neighbors that Thin Mints and Samoas are delicious. Here’s what I innocently failed to consider: it was Super Bowl Sunday. Now just so you know, I grew up in a household dominated by women who don’t place a high level of importance on football. My dad was the only football-watcher in the house so I had never seen the sort of rabid ferocity that I was about to discover. We were never super close with our neighbors, but were solidly enough in the acquaintance category to say hello when getting out of the car or inquire about their kids/dogs/jobs/rose bushes. That was the Bruce Banner side of them though. I suppose the kindest response to my doorbell ringing was no response–some people just didn’t answer the door, although I could hear them inside. Then there were those who shouted “GO AWAY!” (I suppose, in their defense, they didn’t know that there was a cute little girl scout, sales pitch ready, on their doorstep.) The worst was our direct next door neighbors who actually came to the door to yell at me. Reflecting back on this, the (mostly) grown-up me wishes the kid me had pulled a Seinfeld Soup Nazi and said “Fine! No cookies for you!”
Those neighbors moved away a few years after this incident. The joke was on them though, because I told the other girls in my troop not to go to their house. (“No cookies for you!“) That’s right, I ordered a girl scout cookie embargo on that family–and I hope they suffered
Today, I appreciate the allure of football a little more. I, however, will be spending this Superbowl Sunday at a flea market. I’ll probably eat some cookies too, just to honor the day.