It’s that time of year again.

I become invisible.

Now before I continue let’s get something straight….I do love my husband. Really….I do….

BUT….

It’s that time of year again and with it comes just a wee bit more friction that normal.

Yep….

It’s football season….and I all but loathe it.  I’ll probably go to hell for saying that…

…oh wait…I already live in middle earth….Sigh.

Anyhow….what can I say?  I’m simply not a football fan. Why is that so terrible?  But terrible it is, it seems, to many people to include hubby’s family (and quite possibly hubby too)…who all, IMHO are FAN-a-tics.  It’s in their DNA.  For sixteen-some weeks they are afflicted with a serious case of black and gold fever. But that’s not enough; for the rest of the year they live and breathe all things Steelers,  even decorating their houses year-round in Steelers paraphernalia.  I just don’t get it.   I didn’t grow up watching football (nor sports of any kind).  Frankly, my brother and I were lucky to even sneak  watching the tube way back then.  I’d watch Flipper, The Man From Uncle, or The Six-Million-Dollar-Man on T.V. keeping the volume turned way down low so that my parents wouldn’t catch me and make me return to chores.

Steeler1   I have tried to watch the game over the years but for the life of me I get little enjoyment over watching a bunch of men repeatedly fall on top of each other in a tangled heap of helmets, legs, and big bellies ….all over a silly shaped ball.  OK…I will admit to one thing:  I do enjoy watching Super Bowl games….for the commercials, that is!  For awhile, when living in Southern California, I really thought there was a chance that I’d soften my stance on the whole football thing.    Hubby would have a couple of Steelers FAN-a-tics over to enjoy the game.  I was happy as a bug in a rug cooking up some scrumptious Italian meal that all of us could enjoy during half-time.  But I may as well have been Harry Potter wrapped up in his invisibility cloak…I was invisible!  I’d try to make conversation and would get summarily shushed….”wait for commercial.”   The female FAN-a-tic counterpart of the couple wouldn’t join me in the kitchen for conversation or help.   I usually ended up feeling mighty peeved when our company would break dishes, spill food, and make annoying cracks about my lack of love for the game.  In retrospect, I should have just opened a can of Chef Boyardee and called it a day.

It’s not that I am totally against sports viewing.  My two dearest friends, Harry and Mabel, who live in Texas are avid sports fans.  I’ve known them for almost thirty years.  We spent three years together in Germany and then another ten in Northern Virginia.  I can’t tell you how many times we would get together and watch football….or basketball…or tennis…or golf….or (my favorite) soccer.  Mabel and I would cook up meals in the kitchen while, I might add,  watching whatever “happening” game there was at the time.  We’d have lively conversations–solving the worlds’ problems– while munching on chips and salsa and enjoying good wine.  Now these times I thoroughly enjoyed!  Yep!  I’ve found enjoyment in watching sports on T.V.  I’ve watched basketball games and tennis with interest; I’ve loved watching World Cup soccer…and I’ll even confess here and now that one of my favorite sports-viewing memories with Harry and Mabel was when we watched a Tiger Woods golf game on T.V. We met in their hotel room –wine and chips in hand–during a cycling vacation.  We watched the game, talked about everything and nothing, drank good red wine, and only occasionally oohed and aah-ed over Tiger’s skills.

The FAN-a-tics?  They are just too damned serious about the game.  They can’t seem to do anything but WATCH THE GAME.  Conversation? Only if it is about the game.  If the phone rings…hubby does not answer it.  If the doorbell rings…hubby does not answer it.  If we get an invitation from The Queen herself for tea….hubby would decline, if it conflicted with his game.  Sigh….

I honestly thought Direct TV would save the day (and our relationship).  “You can record the game and watch it later, as in AFTER we return from our tea date with the Queen.”  Nope.  It doesn’t quite work that way in a FAN-a-tics world.  They simply must watch the game real-time.   Sigh…… I took to spending game time at Barnes and Noble…enjoying lattes and perusing a stack of books; that was becoming an expensive habit!  Sigh…..

I’ve been with this dear man for just over fifteen years, more than thirteen of them married years. I’ve yet to be able to embrace football, or his FAN-a-ti-cal love for it.  Too me, football may as well be a four-letter word.

Let me be clear.  I actually had no opinion of football one way or the other until just weeks after we started officially dating. We were in a shopping mall on a lovely crisp-cool late afternoon.  We’re strolling through the mall with our Auntie Anne pretzels in hand having a perfectly lovely time together (well…at least I was).  Out of the blue my husband (then boyfriend) yells out “Go Steelers!”  I literally jumped out of my window-shopping reverie (not to mention nearly choked on my pretzel).  I looked around to see that people were…um…yes….STARING at us!   “Do pray tell, what was that all about?” I all but hissed, trying to recover from the shock of the outburst while subtly distancing myself from my boyfriend.

I may as well have asked what color is the moon.

“You see that guy on the other side of the mall walkway” says boyfriend, pointing….Well, he’s wearing his Steelers jersey.”  You’re freaking kidding me….You just yelled at another guy halfway across the mall because he’s wearing some stupid football jersey?  He  tried to explain that’s what Steeler Nation fans do.

I will confess….I thought of ending the relationship right then and there.

Happily, I will say that this yelling behavior finally subsided a year or two into our marriage.  You see, hubby would chant his rah-rah Steelers line literally every single time he saw someone in a Steelers jersey…or a Steelers baseball cap….or a car bearing a Steelers decal or license plate holder….you get the drift.

But, incredibly, fifteen years later here I am.

Yes….Even after a number of scenarios that nearly sent me packing all due to  peculiar Steelers DNA, the last of which involved tricking me (yes, you read correctly….totally unaware) into spending four hours in a tiny hotel room packed with his family watching a Steelers game.  Truthfully, It would not have been nearly as serious a moment if certain of his family members had not decided to make me the butt of their jokes over the trickery.  That was the final straw; seething with fire, it literally sealed my loathing for all things football.  I could barely see straight as I hightailed it out of the hotel which was just off the Pennsylvania turnpike.  I was ready to hitchhike the two-hour drive home with an ax murderer if need be just to be out of the whole FAN-a-ti-cal equation.

I was about to lose my mind; I never knew when the FAN-a-tic in my hubby would strike or when he’d lose all sense of reason because of the black and gold that pulsed through his veins.  I’ll confess to not handling things very well.  At some point I exploded Vesuvius-style, though in my defense, it is the Italian way!   I was at the end of my rope about football and hubby knew it.  He reined himself in over the rah-rah yelling, quite a bit a might add.  I’ll admit to softening my heart (and laughing too) when I’d witness him whisper to himself in sotto voce fashion whenever he’d see a kindred Steelers fan.

Clearly, hubby loved me enough to cut out that nonsense and I am mighty thankful!  I haven’t made a dent in the whole tea with The Queen bit, though I am ever hopeful.

So yesterday hubby dragged me to his friends’ house for college football. “It’s a chance to be with other people” said he.   In Middle Earth-land its all about college football; you may as well throw yourself off a bridge if you don’t pick a team and join in the heavy eating, drinking, and wearing of the colors.

Why on earth would I want to waste four hours on a perfectly lovely afternoon watching a college game?  Well hubby is going away again on business travel.  He’ll be in Europe for a week and despite the trials and tribulations that bubble through the surface in times of stress, I will miss him terribly. Though he is flawed by this Fan-a-tic DNA, I am flawed too…by my loathing of it.  I suppose we are even on this account!  I’d like to get better at this whole football thing but its a huge struggle….

I don't care what you say; it's a weird ball.

I don’t care what you say; it’s a weird ball.

Once again I find myself trying to find that balance within myself….to be true to who I am and who I am not.  It’s times like this when I wish I were like my baby sis; she’s exceptionally good at being a football wife and mom (Go Saints!).   So, I tried very hard not to complain about watching a game in a room full of large men screaming profanity, surrounded by enough fattening food to feed (and kill) a small army.  I ate just one of those sinfully good Rotel cheese cups and kept repeating my mantra “those are poison” in order to not eat any more.  I didn’t drink wine preferring to wait until I was in the comfort of my home either listening to classical music or watching something more entertaining than sports with my husband attentively by my side.

I can’t say I’ll ever love football….or even remotely like it…. but I can this:  My hubby is my home. I’d much rather have my hubby at home on game day…waving his ridiculous “Terrible Towel” and screaming at the set then having him another continent away.