Sandra Tsing Loh watches a major American sporting event... for the first time.
I think my life experience is fairly worldly. I have seen the opera Aida performed LIVE in the Roman catacombs, complete with elephants. I have seen Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with Kathleen Turner, and then crashed the after-party to tell her she was fabulous. I once had an intimate dinner with the late Dominick Dunne— It was a scheduling mix-up, a more famous person than me had cancelled last minute, and I was an accidental fallback— I tried to add value by laughing and laughing at his A-plus material and after two hours of anxious gaiety I thought I was going to cough up a lung.
That said, I am the rare American who has never watched the Super Bowl— Nor indeed, any televised baseball event, all the way through— And by baseball I mean football, football! But my 10 year old DAUGHTER was determined to watch the Super Bowl because “On Monday, everyone at school will be talking about it.”
And so I thought, “How wonderfully novel, and American! Sure! Let’s pour some Cool Ranch—or Flamin’ Hot—Doritos in a football-helmet shaped bowl and actually WATCH this thing that more than 100 million Americans watch!”
Even though I think football is really boring—
But of course, THAT is because football is always that thing I’m trying to ignore when it’s playing in the background of TGI Friday’s or Chili’s or even Chili’s at LAX. I have never WATCHED football with the must-rock-fifth-grade attention Suzy and I gave it.
“Oh my God! Is it on! Did it start? Is this actually the Super Bowl or a commercial for the Super Bowl?” we kept exclaiming to each other, holding hands in the sheer terrifying novelty of it. “I wish I knew what was going on!” she wailed, as men kept stopping and starting and running into each other.
“Well THAT was the kickoff and I think this is the first down,” I heard myself suddenly replying, in a surprisingly low manly voice. Oh my God! How did I KNOW that? Well, I kid you not: I had until this moment repressed memories of playing quite a bit of flag football MYSELF as a teen in my hideous PE classes. Bitterly, I must also report that I learned the crawl, the butterfly, and the backstroke— I ran the 50 and 100-yard dash— I played fullback in soccer and even middle-blocker in volleyball, court, grass AND sand— Not very well, but I DID it— Southern California, Title IX, the 1970’s— it was like women in the military!
And so, excellent— How beautiful and how healing that I could now WATCH sports, IN my pajamas, chardonnay in hand, with my daughter, and enjoy. What could go wrong?
Next week: Football-Crazed Mom Goes Insane While Children Watch.