Last night I had a sad kind of revelation.
Neal and I were in bed with the TV on. Some crazy SEC game was in its final quarter. I checked the teams. Auburn was not one of them. So, I excused myself from having to feign concern over the game and I picked up my book.
In between the Did-You-See-That’s and Hold-On-Babe-Watch-This-Replay’s, I began to pick up on a pattern. It’s the pattern I’ll call Pretending to Care. I thought back to the most recent time this pattern really demonstrated itself.
Let’s take, for example, last Friday’s game. Auburn was playing an SEC team. Not just any team—it was their all-time death-to-your-mother rival, Alabama. My husband does not curse, but his game T-shirts for Auburn-Alabama games do. It goes deep, this rivalry. And way back.
I’ve come to accept that it’s not really in my DNA to grasp the significance of SEC rivalries.
So, during this all-important game, I did several things. I went to the book store with my mother during the first and second quarters. I checked the score and fixed lunch during half-time. During the third quarter, my brother and I sat on the porch and talked about his plans after graduation.
And all the while there was this yelling. Whoops and hollers. Stomps and fists in the air. Those grunts and noises, they remind me to check in on the game. So I did. When I realized it was fourth quarter, I told my brother I had to go in to watch the next 23 painstaking minutes with my husband. He had no fellow fan with him, so I had to offer up what little care I had.
It was a good game. And I really did pay attention. I said things like,
Was that offsides? So, what, 5 yards?
Is that the special teams coach?
You really hate Nick Saban, don’t you.
We need a turnover real bad. (my personal favorite)
An outsider, especially one from my brand of hippie California, would have been impressed. Or at least mildly fooled.
I’d love to confess that my football participation during that Auburn-Alabama game was the exception. That usually, I sit through the whole game, engaged and on the edge of my seat.
That I don’t fold the laundry,
or blog, or clip my toenails,
or do the dishes or find any reason at all more important than the game.
At one point during our marriage, I thought I might change. I began to feel the tingling sensation of real football emotion. It was as if the neurons to the football lobe in my brain had been asleep all my life and the first signs of life began pulsing through. This possibility really excited me. I imagined myself, a Real Football Wife. Jersey on, kids dressed in orange and blue (although that does happen, anyway. Refer to the above mentioned Pretending to Care). I would faithfully sit next to my husband, light beer and reduced-fat Cheeze-Its in hand, with real appropriate body language corresponding with every Auburn success and failure. As a Real Football Wife, I’d even say things before my husband would. Educated, football-y things.
The neurons have since fallen back asleep. They don’t surge with life when the game is on, although they do host a sense of nostalgia.
Back in August, I made it my goal to watch every 1st half of every Auburn game with Neal. I thought it might jumpstart some emotion, or at least not stress my marriage. Sadly, I’ve since diverted back to my default of Pretending to Care. The feminists among you (my hairdresser is one, I think all hairdressers are) may chide me for even trying to Pretend to Care. That a Real Football Wife is just another piece of machismo propaganda churned out by some good ol’ boys club.
For me, it’s not. I have no reason to conform to something I’m not, at least when it comes to anything-ESPN. There’s just a draw…an orbit-like pull when I pause and witness my husband’s passion for the game. It’s his childhood and his dreams, his family’s history and culture.
This draw keeps me setting goals, like watching the first half or saying something not-stupid. It keeps alive the ever-elusive fantasy of becoming a Real Football Wife. It keeps me thinking, at 10:49 on Saturday nights that I should try again next football season.