I don’t understand football—I never have. It’s not because it’s above me, or overly complicated, but really because I think it’s ridiculous. I know I’m going to lose half my readers with that sentence alone, but hear me out. I see men navigate more emotional highs and lows during one football game than I have during the duration of any of my relationships. Maybe, I’m just bitter because football gets more male attention than I do, or perhaps I just think it’s absurd to allow oneself to act completely belligerent over a game. As a child I’d run to my father’s arms after watching a terrifying episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark, and he would hold me and say, “Lizzy, why do you watch these things if it upsets you?” The only response I ever uttered was, “Well you watch football….?”
On Saturday I, along with several other miserable servers, catered a tailgate party during Ohio State’s homecoming. If you aren’t from Ohio than I’m sure you believe your hometown has the most ardent and true football fans this great country has ever seen—but you’re wrong. You are so wrong. Ohio State fans are some of the most blood-thirsty, emotionally unstable people you will ever meet, and they take intoxication to an entire new level. The thing is Ohioans, along with most mid-western people, are actually really kind. Ohio has more colleges and universities per capita than any other state. We are extremely intelligent, modest people—until you bring up football—and then everything goes to hell. Individually, fans are helpful and cheery, as a group they bleed scarlet and grey—which is a horribly disturbing motto. Once during an OSU-Michigan game tailgate, I watched a man drive up to a group of fans with a stuffed dummy in a make-shift Michigan football helmet strapped to the hood of his car. The man then proceeded to turn off his engine, get out of the car, and hand bats to the people in the group. All together they joined in beating the dummy with bats as they sang “Oh, How Firm Thy Friendship”. There was a car under that dummy. I’m going to bet that Allstate didn’t cover the damage.
Luckily, the group we were catering for was pretty tame. By tame I mean they were all doctors, aged fifty and over. My gynecologist was there. As uncomfortable as that hello was, if I’m at a party chances are good I’ll run into at least one person who has seen my vagina. She asked me how my boyfriend was—the only thing that all women of a certain age are interested in. I explained that he was fine and gave her my best fake smile. Really, I wanted to tell her that I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure how we were doing—or if we were even still together. We had been fighting the night before but I was working through a powerful cocktail of Nyquil and champagne and couldn’t remember where we had left things.
The buffet lines grew longer as I moved effortlessly through the cramped tent, between tables and chairs, clearing the plastic plates and empty bottles as I went. The DJ was playing classics from the OSU marching band. Big brass and powerful base filled the air as I tried desperately to maneuver around wheel chairs and walkers. I hit a snag in the midst of clearing tables. I found myself completely surrounded by elderly doctors singing Hang on Sloopy loudly and proudly. My tray was too full and my arm began to shake under its weight. I tried to make a quick retreat but everyone was moving too slowly and couldn’t hear me trying to clear a path. I, along with the tray was going down, and it was not going to be pretty. Everything slowed, and the second act of Ride of the Valkyries began to play in my head. I crumbed, with a sort of floppy awkwardness to the floor, bringing with me beer, wine, and sticky globs of pulled pork. I was covered from head to toe in grease and backwash. For the rest of my shift I smelled like a hangover. No one noticed—they were too busy chanting along with the shrill cries of the Medical Director as she shouted, “O-H” the elderly crowd retorted “I-O” and everyone cheered.