I’m not an American football fan. The oldest in a family of three girls, I didn’t grow up around football. My father was on the high school track team in the 1950’s and my mother was cheerleader and an usherette in high school. I ran track and Cross Country and played Little League Softball throughout my youth. Honestly, I still don’t understand all the downs and penalty kicks and point system.
Mom, Liz, is third from right.
“At every play, concert, or operetta, a chic group of charming ladies act as social receptionists. These beautifully dressed girls escort guests to their sets, distribute programs, and give each social event their own gracious hospitality. The Usherettes deliver telephone messages to doctors and professional people and see to it that flowers for stars and sponsors arrive at the stage at the right time.”
I really have no recollection of Superbowl and betting pools however, I do recall the parades—The Rose Bowl Parade, The Orange Bowl Parade, the Fiesta Bowl Parade. I guess one could say, we were “parade people.” Besides attending these and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade every year on the scarlet cut-pile of our living room floor (there was only one chair in there until 1977, and it was my father’s), we either attended or marched in every parade in town. My father was a Lion’s Club member and we rode the floats they spent weeks building, in the Fourth of July Parade.
My first husband, Dave, wasn’t a football enthusiast either. His parents were interested in tossing weighted balls down allies to score 7-10 splits. And due to Dave’s limited peripheral vision, he couldn’t track balls or bodies, so instead he spent his teen years tearing up sand lots on dirt bikes, skiing and recording albums onto cassettes. We viewed Superbowl Sunday as the perfect opportunity to extend a ski weekend to ride the lifts like it was the first day of school and ski a mountain with a low collision factor. Mostly, locals would be on the hills on Superbowl Sunday morning. By 1:00, you could re-trace your own tracks in the glades.
During the seven post-9/11 years it was just me and the boys in our home in Freeport, Long Island. Their gigs were baseball, tennis, and Lego’s. We spent a Superbowl Sunday or two with cousins but for us, it was all about the chatter, chardonnay and team-inspired cupcakes, and of course, Jamie’s stuffed mushrooms and sausage and peppers.
It wasn’t until 2009, after we moved to Vermont to live with my second husband Rich, when televised National League Football became a family room guest in our lives. Rich rarely missed a Monday night football game, nor Saturday afternoon playoff. This is the time in my life when Superbowl became a weeks-long anticipated event that involved betting pools and charts that Richard was often in design and command of ,both at work and in our home.
He’d say, “put your initials in a bunch of squares.”
“What does it all mean?”
“It doesn’t matter, just pick anything.”
I did it for the show of support, it was his way, I guess, of getting the kids excited about the game. But I didn’t support gambling and betting beyond inserting $1 scratch-off tickets in birthday cards.
Since I wasn’t interested in the game, nor making myself feel more inept than I was by asking incessant questions during the game, I did what any party-loving person would do, I strung streamers, and made wings, sliders, and football-shaped brownies served in themed-dishes on an synthetic-turf table topper lined with strips of white medical tape. So we all spent a family-day in front of the fireplace noshing, cheering, and crossing out boxes. A few times we invited neighbor friends to join in.
This epoch lasted all of eight-years, until everyone had left the house, including Rich, ironically on Superbowl weekend, 2018.
Superbowl 2019, was only myself and Davin, six-weeks following twelve-weeks of rehab. Although I made his favorite finger-foods, there were no decorations, no beer, nor boxes to fill. It was really just fine, low-key, though it wasn’t really fine. Everyone had split, there was tremendous acrimony between Richard and us, Davin was “gray,” Dylan and Shina were building their own lives, avoiding all of us, and I was counting my breath. Superbowl 2020, Davin watched the game at Rich’s place, the first house we lived in when we moved to Essex Junction, Vermont. I watched an Antiques Road Show marathon.
Superbowl 2021 was solemn, in the wake of Davin’s absence, and Dylan’s mental health breakdown. Dylan was home with me, recuperating from his January hospitalization. My sister and nephew, Brady were here. I think Brady built a fire, we ate air-fried wings and pizza, and simply watched the game on my new 65″ smart T.V.
This year, It’s me, the dog and the cat. I’ll light a fire and binge-watch Sweet Magnolias. I’ll pause to view the half-time show to check out the stage my cousin’s husband built. And yes, those are my ex’s gym clothes on the floor in the photo! Not missing that either. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t give a shit. I’ll give the dog a heart-shaped cookie and treat myself to a supermarket boiled lobster and a dirty martini.
© Deborah Garcia 2022. All rights reserved
Feature image by Deborah Garcia
Usherettes image– Earl L Vandermuelen H.S. Yearbook