Monday, February 15, 2010

The Ghost of SuperBowls Past

I was never one for football. The college I went to, Bryn Mawr, was near Haverford and Swarthmore, and to describe the boys(men?) who went there as effete and/or epicene was to be lavishly understated. I attended only one football game of theirs with a hefty German exchange student named Gerd who feared for the lives of those on the field if they as much as tripped, much less were tackled. When I first met my husband, who was a jock, albeit darling, he was producing the original games of the Jets, then a brand new team, but as he really loved me, I did not have to pretend interest, though as writ in other Reports, at our wedding, Stanley Kubrick, on hearing that Don was producing those games, told him not to follow the ball, but keep the camera on the line, as that was the most interesting part of the game. Don told him “Stanley, if I can roll a credit at the end that says ‘Directed by Stanley Kubrick,’ I’ll keep the camera anywhere you say.” That immediately gave rise to an idea of Don’s, to bring in other directors, so there would be one game by Billy Wilder, and so on. Of course it never materialized but it was a funny concept.
Less than funny was the price women paid for loving their men during football season. I know there are many women who actually loved football, or pretended to, but I was never one of them. As John O’Hara always waited for winter to begin one of his novels(now mostly forgotten, alas, as a sort-of friend went to buy one on the orders of her writing teacher, and the stores carried none of them) I attribute my productivity during football seasons to fleeing into the other room where I wrote, to avoid the rasping voice of Howard Cosell. One of my meditations in How to Survive in Suburbia when your Heart’s in the Himalayas was ‘Imagine Life as Mrs. Howard Cosell.’ A chilling thought, for those of you who remember.
But much as I hated football, I did love my husband, and so we hosted many SuperBowl parties, one of them a surprise for Don’t birthday which usually came around that time, where he was actually upstairs while the guests gathered downstairs, and he never had a clue. I loved surprises, especially when they were. Once I got him to go to a concert, black tie in San Francisco, to what turned out to be a sit-down black tie party in his honor at a friend’s Mansion(not showing off, that was the name of his hotel) and even though we ran into a couple who were friends at the airport, also in black tie, he thought they were going to the same concert. I also invited Cary Grant, who did not come, though we all know or at least those of us old enough to remember, how good he looked in a tux, but he did call Don at the party to wish him Happy Birthday, which added to the surprise.(Don’s birthday was Jan. 16th, Ben Franklin’s the 17th, and Cary Grant’s the 18th, so I used to have a continuum of Polish birthdays for my three favorite guys.)
Then there was little Robert, who, at six, spent a whole SuperBowl party with Steven Spielberg, and when I asked Spielberg what he had found to talk about with my son, he said “He knows more about football than anyone I have ever met.” That encyclopedic knowledge has been passed down to Lukas, now l0, and Silas, 6, both of whom can go on endlessly about stats and fiercely love the game, though the NFL website has been most remiss about sending Silas his Brett Favre jersey, so he will probably have left the Vikings or gone on to yet another team or genuinely retired by the time it arrives and I will have to send it back to exchange for Tom Brady. SO the family tradition of loving football has been passed down through the boys, and, I must admit, I realized how much I missed Don after his early death when, all alone, I actually turned on the playoffs.
But none of that prepared me for the actual joy of yesterday’s game. As you may have noted, our country is in a great state of disrepair and dysfunction, with many devoted to simply keeping anything good from happening, a whole party pledged to blocking Barack. You may have missed the news in the FT(it’s in the lobby of this hotel, so I have become global) that China bared its dragon teeth, and said it was not wise of Obama to meet with the Dalai Lama with the US in a state of economic crisis, which sounded like a not too heavily veiled threat that they’d call their notes, as you may be aware that they own us. (I am assured by Jack Kornfield, my Jewru, who is close to that spiritual leader that the meeting will indeed take place, and what Obama needs is a copy of The Prince, as he clearly lacks an inner Machiavelli, and even in the opinion of a spiritual man could use some of that.)
Anyway, as you all know, New Orleans represents the greatest glitch of that awful administration if you leave out unnecessary wars and the destruction of the economy, so to have them rise and redeem and triumph as a team is absolutely glorious. It did feel to me like redemption. Rachel Maddow, who, openly gay, is much the softest voice, not to mention the smartest on MSNBC, Keith Olbermann having too completely filled out his terrible suits and his even worse ties and Chris Matthews yelling at everybody, did a lead-up on Friday that was incredibly touching to what a victory would mean to New Orleans, already so evenhanded and proud they planned a parade even if they lost. So I wish I could be in their numbers when the Saints Go Marching in. What a day it must in that city, and tomorrow is Mardi Gras. And the best of it, the worst of it, it would have been if I went on clinging to outmoded feelings, was I really loved the game. I hope it wasn’t just because my son hates Payton Manning.