Monday, December 05, 2005

After a football Sunday...

Dirtman and I are a pretty compatible couple, on the whole. I say this because I do know of couples who keep it together only because they never actually interact with each other and one is reliant on the other’s medical insurance. But Dirtman and I have based on relationship on more stable ground. For instance: We both hate kale.

Oh, and there’s that love thing…

Imagine my surprise when, as a starry-eyed soon-to-be-bride, I found out this glaring difference in our personalities, one that has slapped me in the face daily for the past 18-and-a-half years: Dirtman likes sports.

In fact, Dirtman used to be a bona fide part time sports writer, which, I have to admit, was the only way we could make ends meet, back in the day. Even back then when we were gathering dew drops off the leaves to keep from dying of thirst (only kidding. I threw that in for my brother, but we were pretty low on the financial ladder), Dirtman’s annual Christmas present was money to be in a fantasy baseball league. Our autumns are scheduled around Va. Tech football games, whether on TV or attended live. I think the greatest day in his life was when Heir 2 learned to talk (he was three months old, I think) and he had someone with whom to trash talk, seeing as I was never particularly good at this:

Dirtman: Oh look. What a surprise. The Phils are in last place. Can’t you pick a real team to support?

Sisiggy: No.

I am not particularly competitive (Dirtman says this is because I did, in fact, grow up going to Phillies games). I find rabid fans of any team loud, annoying and pretentious until they lose, at which point they become downright unsportsmanlike.

But we have found ways to compromise. Every Orioles game has to feature a side trip to Little Italy, more specifically, Vaccaro’s Bakery, which I need like a hole in the head. But, hey, this is nine innings at a minimum, not to mention how many games back when the kids were little I had to get there early so we could watch Cal Ripkin warm up. We did, in fact, see Cal warm up. At least I’m pretty sure it was Cal. There was something moving on the field around third base and it was taller than the other things, so I’m assuming it was Cal. But, since these were the buy-at-the-last-minute nosebleed seats, it could have been Bozo the Clown down there for all we knew. We told Heir 2 it was Cal Ripkin.

Now Virginia Tech games are another story. I have recently been banned from attending these, a goal of mine for years. Tech games always sell out, so if you sit there reading a book, attendees get a little cranky, thinking of all the loved ones they left home in bitter despair whose seat you are occupying. I have diligently worked at the banning ever since I attended my first Tech game and when, three days before the game, we parked and still had to walk 535 miles to get to the stadium. When asked who got to park in the empty spaces right next to the stadium, Dirtman informed me this was for people who donated big money. “To the University?” I naively asked. “To the football program,” he replied, as if connecting Tech football to the annoyingly academic university was beyond conception. Anyway, during our pilgrimage to the stadium we had to pass various outposts of drunken mayhem where grown men had spent more on tailgating equipment than on their kids’ four-year tuition. That I couldn’t help commenting on these ironies during the actual game, thereby putting our lives in jeopardy, is the reason why I am no longer invited to join Dirtman at games in Blacksburg.

I am still required to drive him down there and back. This leaves him free to instruct me to pull up to other vehicles bearing Va. Tech detritus so he can lower the window, wave and shout, “whoo, whoo,” with vastly more enthusiasm than I am typing with. This is supposed to be accompanied by me honking the horn, which is usually what the person in the other vehicle is doing. Unless we are driving home and Tech lost. In this case, fans are delivering their own personal monologue about biased referees, using a low grumble that can be rather disturbing.

I hear there are spouses who are better sports than I am, no pun intended. They tolerate the nattering of ESPN all weekend long, actually watch and make attempts to understand the games, they honk the horn for their spouse and “whoo, whoo” out the window and do all these things without requiring their spouse to sit through an entire opera. A nice heavy one. Wagner, all the Rings. Requiring a suit and tie. And dinner. With wine. Imported wine. Did I mention the stadium was 535 miles away?

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