How I learned to love football season (despite having to miss brunch)
It is an autumn Sunday morning; I wake up slowly and give myself a stretch. Like a cliché, I can practically hear Gioachina Rossini’s William Tell Overture playing in my head. Catching up on the issues of New Yorkers I routinely fall behind on, I set the coffee. The bold aromatics fill the room as it brews. Ah, the sweet smell of the American dream. My favorite meal of the week is upon us. I scroll through my phone to the usual suspects with whom I get my eggs benny on; a simple “Brunch?” text goes off into the airways.
I dress for my day; company and location should be planned by the time I’m ready. Sundays are pretty low maintenance. I would describe it as beachwear and hair. In reality, it’s my lazy homage to my UC Santa Cruz days of shorts, tanks, no make up and little attempt to run a comb through my waves. A good pat down will do just fine. How odd, no response yet.
Okay, round two, second string: I text individuals that I would like to catch up with one on one. I wait, still no response. Did I piss people off? What have I written about lately? Nothing offensive, that I can think of. Big party I wasn’t invited to? Those sons of a—no, that’s not it. I sip on my coffee. My love for brunch persists. I daydream about brunch as if I have a crush on it. I am determined to find a fellow brunch enthusiast to share the wonderfulness that is oatmeal pancakes and egg white scrambles, someone who will encourage me to give in as I debate over fresh fruit and truffle home fries. I’m frantically scrolling through my phone to find a partner to volley witty commentary about the week’s headlines, personal misadventures and work-related headaches.
On silent, my phone finally buzzes against the kitchen counter. It’s Sunday, too relaxing of a day to have the ringer on. “Sorry, game is on at 1:25, have to get ready, come over.” A game? 1:25? Well, that’s hours from now. Buzz after buzz, my outgoing messages collect their responses. “Can’t, kick-off is at 10.” AM?! Well that’s awfully early. My inner monologue takes a guess, East Coast feed?
It hits me: it’s Football Season. I was born and raised into a “Gold-Blooded” family. Back home, four generations of Bay Area natives gather with hot wings and Diet Coke to cheer on the San Francisco 49ers. Having spent some time all around the Bay, including San Francisco proper, my family settled in the East Bay, Oakland Raiders territory. But, coming of age in the ’90s, the golden era of red and gold, when crisp spirals sliced through the ocean air from the legendary Joe Montana to Jerry Rice, when Steve Young posters hung in every Phys Ed classroom from San Jose to Sacramento, we stayed loyal to the Niners. Plus, the Black Hole terrified me. Just Google Image “Oakland Raider’s Black Hole.”
Always the odd one out, middle child with all my middle child syndromes, somehow I failed to inherit the sports gene. I was the athletic layman sitting in the Candlestick Park bleachers who asked where the “yellow line” was. My brother informed me that it was digitally drawn in when televised. It also still confuses me as to how a three-hour game extends to an entire day. Pre-games, post-shows, preparing the chip n’ dip. Patriots versus Seahawks in the morning, plus it’s post-game, leading right into the pre-game for Niners and Cowboys after lunch, and so on. Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
As an adult, I began to recognize football on Sundays as more of a party, a concept I have a much firmer grasp on. I put on my oversized jersey, ridiculously tied into a cutesy fashion and root, root, root for the home team. Football games come with Sunday afternoon barbecues: a chance for friends to gather, eat potato salad and trash-talk opposing teams, even if they are not playing. There is always the one guy who cheers for the other team, no matter what team, whom we have the honor to berate the entire day. Where are you even from? In a city of transplants, like Los Angeles, there is always game to watch, so there is always a get-together. The Packers, Steelers, Bears, Saints, Jets–franchises that interfere with my brunch love affaire from September to February.
But God forbid, upon everything that is holy, your team is losing. A dark cloud settles over the living room. Howls of frustration are directed to the coach and players. Arguments are being had with the television commentator, who somehow seems to respond to the living room as if in an actual two-way conversation. The tension grows and along with it, the silence. I’ve been witness to friends walking out from sheer disappointment in their quarterback or defense. Super Bowl bragging rights slowly slipping from their grasps. Fantasy Football algorithms being calculated in their minds. I quietly nurse my drink and concentrate on my char-grilled corn on the cob, “pass the guacamole?” I whisper.
I may never qualify as a bonafide sports fan. And yes, football season is the time of the year when my brunch dates are a bit less frequent. But, it is also a marker that we’re deep into fall and the holidays are creeping up. It represents the time of the year when the sun still shines but the leaves crackle beneath our feet. It’s the American tradition that unites buddies, neighbors and families in camaraderie, pride from where we hail, and even a little friendly competition. Through my years of falling slightly behind the curve of football, the most productive decision I made is the classic: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Go Niners!