We are now but hours away from one of those epic, annual, Roman numeral-sized moments when as a nation we put our trials and tribulations aside, and savor a common interest. A shared passion. I am referring, of course, to the reality that later today almost every sentient human being in America is going to settle down with feeding troughs of guacamole and chips and bottles of beer, turn on our television sets. . .and then toast my lovely bride and me.
Yes, it was on February 2 that my wife and I meet. We were eighteen years old. We were in our first year of college. We did not meet at a Super Bowl party. We met at a college mixer, which is like a football game in that there’s a lot strategy, a little trash talk, and if you’re going to make a pass, you better be smart. Also, someone is bound to put his or her hands on someone else’s bottom.
My wife tolerates my interest in football, but when she was eighteen, her entire knowledge of the sport came from the movie, “The Longest Yard” – the original from 1974 with Burt Reynolds as a prisoner who leads his fellow cons in a football game against the guards. One Sunday not long after we were married – an era when we actually used television antennas for reception – she joined me on the couch when I was watching a game through screen fuzz so bad it was like the players were battling in a whiteout.
“What sport is this?” she asked.
“Football,” I answered.
“How can you tell?”
The truth is, I really couldn’t. But still I watched.
In any case, when I discovered that Super Bowl Sunday this year was going to fall on the anniversary of the day my wife and I met, I felt a moral obligation to try and transcend the Trans Fat Feast that I usually put together on the big day. There was no way I could turn my desire to sit before a television for hours watching men batter one another into a romantic evening, but I could do better than expect her to watch it with me with only a tub of ranch dip and a bag of Cheetos for sustenance.
So, I went on-line to try and find interesting Super Bowl party recipes. After about ten minutes I discovered that a whole lot of game day party suggestions involve at least one can of French’s crunchy fried onions. Those recipes that don’t revolve around crunchy fried onions are usually dips with many layers and enough sour cream to cause our hearts to rebel and beg for angioplasties.
Then I considered spending the afternoon in the kitchen preparing some of her very favorite foods: A chocolate-peanut butter pie. Armenian cheese boregs. The sort of healthy, hearty soup she savors in the winter.
But this plan struck me a bit like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The Super Bowl stands for three things: Wildly expensive television commercials. Halftime extravaganzas that cause power failures. And the calories that will someday kill us all. A healthy soup on Super Bowl Sunday? Blasphemous. Only one baby step less weird than serving an unsweetened smoothie made from broccoli and carrots.
Besides, she would still have to enjoy this repast while sitting on the couch watching a game that she comprehends about as well as I understand the technology that magically makes emails appear on my cellphone.
So, did that mean that I have chosen to be a decent husband and do the right thing? To ignore the Super Bowl and celebrate our anniversary by taking my wife out to dinner tonight?
Nope. Tonight I will be camped out in front of the TV with enough junk food to make Honey Boo Boo Child swoon.
Instead, this year my wife and I celebrated our meeting anniversary a day earlier – yesterday. It was perfect.
Happy anniversary to my lovely bride, my muse, my inamorata. Thank you for so many wonderful years together. . .and, yes, for putting up with yet another three hours of football.
(This column appeared originally in the Burlington Free Press on February 2, 2014. Chris’s next novel, “Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands,” arrives on July 8.)