Kage Baker detested professional sports. I’m afraid it wasn’t simply not caring, or a knee-jerk stereotypical gender response – she actively, personally, and with considerable glee, detested them.
She said it was a morality of intellect issue. Sports, she felt, needed some nobility to be interesting. She liked the Olympics – there were events she would go out of her way to actually follow, especially the Winter ones. She liked watching New Zealand soccer teams do the haka. Sometimes baseball would conjure up a moment of heroism that moved her – Kirk Gibson’s slow wounded-warrior passage around the bases to win the 1988 World Series thrilled her.
But Kage hated football.
Maybe having far too many uncles and brothers had something to do with it. Maybe it was because she could never figure out the scoring. Certainly, living her last 15 years in a small holiday beach town exacerbated her dislike. When Superbowl weekend came round each year, every hotel, motel and holiday cottage rental in our tiny little town was full of football fans. Team colours flew from every motel balcony and car antenna. Giant motorhomes took all the street parking, and emitted vibrations and uncouth noises like portals to the Nether Dimensions.
It meant getting our shopping done before noon on Friday, unless we wanted to to have to swim upstream for a gallon of milk or some chips. It meant giving up on going to a restaurant on Friday or Saturday – they were all full of drunken out-of-towners. It meant that by mid-morning on the Sunday, the loudest sounds in the entire town were cheering, cursing, and inarticulate primate noises.
We used to take walks mid-game, and count the actual human words we heard, as opposed to assorted simian grunts, coughs, howls and pant-hoots. Usually words were restricted to obscenities and despairing cries of “No! No! No!” Kage sneered and muttered imprecations.
The beach would be inhabited by teenaged girls and small children, happily exiled from the sacred precincts of the television. Even the surfers were mostly female. The arcades were half empty, taken over by the pale, weedy kids who ordinarily couldn’t get close to the good games.
Kage and I lived next to rental houses most of our time there – the cottages that rented for exorbitant sums to the aristocracy of Bakersfield and Oildale, come to the beach for holidays. That did provide us with great views of many hilarious barbecuing accidents – the best ones were the deep-fried turkey disasters. I may have seen more of those than anyone who’s not a paramedic. The best results seemed to occur when the chef failed to realize he had to thaw the bird before dropping it into the boiling oil – that always resulted in a head-high fountain of hot oil that usually caught fire on the way down and napalmed the cook.
Twice the fryers were blown apart. And once we saw a guy knocked arse over elbow by a frozen, flaming turkey to the chest. Being good neighbors, we called 911 – but his furious wife had put him out before they got there, and no one was hurt. By the turkey, anyway. We saw a very large pizza delivery made later …
Anyway, football was not Kage’s cup of tea. I don’t much care one way or the other, myself. My family is happily ensconced in the living room now with Game Day Treats, enjoying the game and the commercials with equal pleasure; I am here at my computer, very gratefully out of the line of sight, working instead on the games in my head. I don’t mind football, but, you know – meh. It does nothing for me.
Maybe if they had to catch some of those fireball turkeys, now …