Off the Record - Girly Man O’ the Gridiron
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It's a typical Sunday in a typical living room on a typical winter day. The dinner plates are being cleared and it’s not a moment too soon for the men around the table.
Their eyes dart nervously between the wall clock and the black expanse of my big television screen.
With a nod from one of the wives, they rush to the living room and fumble with the remote in time for the big football game to begin.
There I sit at the kitchen table, too manly to lift a finger in the direction of womenfolk and the dirty dishes, yet not feeling a testosterone rush from the cheers and jeers in the next room.
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And so it goes for pretty much every Sunday of my life.
I never had an interest in sports. I’ve watched a total of an hour of ESPN in my life, and even then, it was one of those gauzy documentaries about an injured athlete overcoming odds that moved me to tears. Heck, it might as well have aired on the Oxygen Network.
My lack of interest in sports has produced countless hours of uncomfortable pauses in conversation between myself and male co-workers over the years.
I never get asked to join March Madness contests or football pools. I usually check my Blackberry or engage in some activity that has me look downward as the men around me swivel their necks from one screen to another when I find myself out for an after work drink at some sports bar.
Anyone who has ever worked in corporate America knows that the first 10 minutes of a Monday morning conference call are usually devoted to gridiron concerns.
After a while, it gets tedious and I find that I can stop the conversation in its tracks by saying something like, “Uh, can someone tell me why the Green Bay Packers have yellow tights? I mean, they are GREEN Bay! HULLOOOOH!!”
Just calling a part of the uniform “tights,” like it was a ballet or something, infuriates most diehard sports fans, and the verbal assault on my manhood ensues. Deflecting a shortcoming with humor got me this far in life, so why should I stop now?
On Sunday, emotions run high around the television among the men in my family as the New England Patriots squeak by the Baltimore Ravens and advance to the Super Bowl.
While all this was going on, I was curled up on the far side of our horseshoe-shaped sectional with my nose deep in The New York Times. I guess you could forgive me if I read the sports section to my redeem myself, but I found Maureen Dowd’s literary crucifixion of Newt Gingrich’s campaign and the bitchy advice doled out by Phillip Galanes in the “Social Q” column infinitely more interesting.
Now, in my defense, I don’t watch much television of any kind. While most men assume quarterback position in their recliners and guzzle beer for hours at a time, I spend my Sundays writing books and columns.
Except, of course, if there’s a one day sale at Macy’s. Then I am the only straight guy at the mall on Super Bowl Sunday.
Then again, who can be sure of that? I know I am a red blooded male deeply attracted to my luscious wife and the curves on a woman.
Still, if a blaze consumed my home and they pried the DVR from my charred and dead hand, the fire marshal would use it as evidence that the owner of the house was a flaming queen who probably got tangled up in an equally flammable throw blanket.
Sure, I could blame my wife and daughters with filling up the DVR memory banks to capacity with Color Splash, House Hunters, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Toddlers and Tiaras, Hungry Girl, Say Yes to the Dress, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, but I’m a willing party who plops down on the couch whenever it is suggested we have a “TV night” as a family, and it was me who bookmarked Lisa Vanderpump’s website on my browser.
I’m sure some lack of interest on my part comes from my less-than-stellar athletic career in school. I was a big boy all my life, which means I completely rocked the defensive end on a soccer field while my wiry brother ran up and down the field for goals.
I was a decent enough soccer player locally, but my skills proved no match for the talent in the regional Catholic boys high school that I attended. After one too many cuts from teams, I resigned myself to a life of being picked last at gym class and lost all flavor for organized sports.
But hey, if you want to take me out to the ball game, I’m down with that! Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks! I don’t care if I ever come back!
Just don’t ask me to regurgitate stats on the pitcher. He’s the one on the big mound in the middle of the field, right?