Kage Baker loathed football. We never watched any sports but the Olympics once we left home. But growing up in a household rich with brothers, uncles and male cousins, exposure to televised sports was inevitable. And with Mamma the Southern lady that she was, it was simply understood that the living room was the Men’s Territory.
The Women’s Side was, yes, in the kitchen. This was not purdah, it was the Ladies’ Secret Super Lair. That was because it was where the food and drink was, not to mention all the interesting conversation. We grew up under the impression that being allowed in the kitchen to listen to the grown ladies talk above our heads, sampling all the dishes fresh and hot, and learning all the family gossip and history was the privileged position. Boys past puberty got chased out, which was enormously satisfying.
As Kage grew older, she spent less and less time downstairs anyway; she was usually in her tower, scribbling away, with KUSC turned up loud to drown out the howls and hooting with Don Juan or Der Rosenkavalier or the Firesign Theatre … and then, of course, she left home entirely and never worried about it again. Except when we would take walks through Pismo on Super Bowl Sunday: where the streets were deserted, the restaurants were full of ladies drinking things with pink umbrellas in them, and every rental property was apparently full of male baboons. It pleased Kage to stroll about and mock the noises drifting down into the empty streets.
I’m not upstairs, now (because we haven’t got one here). But I am comfortably at my desk, ready to step through the computer screen into any world I please. Occasionally I get called into the living room to watch a keen special effect or a commercial. I’m always happy to see the Budweiser Clydesdales. I wouldn’t drink the beer if my life depended on it – that crap is made with rice, you know – but their commercials take the palm.
The half show this year was pretty good, too – Katie Perry is sort of a cupcake; she may not be great, but hey – it’s a cupcake, you don’t turn it down. But the light show from that transparent floor in the middle of the field was astounding! The giant puppet lion! The fireworks! The anamorphic backdrops! The dancing palm trees and singing sharks! Man, that was wonderful.
But it’s a little noisy. My family’s got no dog in this fight, as the saying goes – they are Buffalo Bills fans; and as every watcher of X-Files knows, the Bills are never making it to a Super Bowl. Even though my family is pretty civilized about it, if you’re really are watching the game, there is a certain amount of yelling and so forth that must happen. Kimberly and I were running about all morning on last minute errands to make sure sufficient sacred foods had been laid in. In the 3rd quarter, the Seahawks are ahead by 10 points, so with every play it gets louder on the telly, out in the street, in the living room …
Thus I am still doing research and compiling facts. There’s a certain distance from tumult that is needed in order to write, no matter how good your headphones are. And what with running over to see the million-dollar commercials, my concentration is not at its best. I want to have the next bit start just right, explaining why Dr. Zeus was determined to make sure the Australian Aborigines could not be allowed to go extinct.
They are a sort of Ur-Homo sapiens, you see; the original model that walked out of Africa and became all the rest of us, almost undiluted. They interbred with very few of the cousins. They went away into the haze on the ocean, and unlike the sea birds, they never came back. No one who left Africa has a longer continuous culture. Or bloodline. Or has been on their land as long, uninterrupted. Oh, there’ve been a few problem infestations – rabbits. Cane toads. Englishmen. But mostly, it’s been only the Aborigines for the last 50,000 years, and the results are still coming in.
That story requires concentration. When the guys on the telly stop ruining their brains – I wonder sometimes why we bother to grow such big ones – I’ll pick up the plot where I left off. White walls, red roofs, pastures full of giant sloths and carnivorous kangaroos and aurochs and the white cattle of the Sun – and out of the east, with the late sun throwing their shadows a half-mile behind them, come the People with the maps of all worlds in their heads …
That’s a game winner, for sure.