Monday, February 4, 2008

Assimilation and the Super Bowl

As a child, there were many things that made me feel different from my neighbors and friends. We didn't really celebrate Thanksgiving. No turkey at my house. We celebrated Christmas Eve; everyone else celebrated Christmas Day. St. Patricks Day was irrelevant in my home, marked only by the foul smell of boiling cabbage in the apartment building hallways. How I wanted to be Irish on that day, so I could wear a "Kiss me, I'm Irish" button.

As I grew up, we became more Americanized. We went to turkey with rice and beans and then to the more traditional menu. And I was thrilled about ten years ago to be invited to a St. Patty's Day party. It was pretty disappointing. Funny thing was that in the interim I had grown up and the impetus to be like everyone else was no longer there.

All of this is prelude to my adventures yesterday. My father, like any good Cuban, was a baseball fanatic. For a long time, I was an only child. So, dressed in my stadium wear of tan Wranglers and a striped pullover, I would dutifully tag along with him to games. I loved the sun bearing down on us, the noise, the guys yelling "Throw the bum out!" or "Beah Heah! Get your beah heah!" And then the foam tops of the cups splashing over when they came to give my Dad his. Each type of vendor had his own little song. And we ate one from each. Then even more exciting, I got to watch Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford.

What we never ever did was go to a football game. As he became more successful, companies would give him free tickets to the Giants. We'd have to scramble to give them away. Later I married a European who didn't follow American sports. When my daughter went to BC and became a raving Eagles fan, it was an Alex Keaton moment at my household. Aside from the Olympics and the World Cup, we don't watch it. It's a great source of embarassment when I play Trivial Pursuit, I assure you.

But every year during Super Bowl Week, I secretly envied all those parties. So I was tickled to get a phone call out of the blue inviting me to a one. The conversation went like this.

"Well, I replied, we don't really do football."

"Ah come on, we'll have a talking room,too. My wife only likes the commercials."

These are people whose company I enjoy, so I thought what the heck. My only concern was that I didn't want to sit through a whole football game, which to me has all the interest of a physics lecture. The upshot of all this was that I attended my first Super Bowl Party, watched my first full football game, and got quite an education. Half the fun of these things, I discovered, is watching the reaction of the other party goers. The game, I admit, wasn't half bad. Think I'll do it again, next year.

1 comment:

Fermi said...

Don't wait a whole year! Next autumn, get yourself some ducats to a 'phins game, drive over to Miami with friends, slay a fatted calf (or bring slabs of whatever beast tickles your fancy), set up the barbie about 3 hours before game time, and soak up some sun and suds at your first NFL tailgate. I've even known some to bring brie, crackers and chardonnay, but they are usually made to park in the next aisle over. Pregame tailgates used to be solely testosterone fueled events, but recently more and more women have been attending. Thank God! Now we have someone to clean up......