I grew up in a male dominated household. That meant that instead of tea parties, I had pirate fights; instead of dolls, I played with army men; and instead of makeup, there was sports.
I played soccer for nine years, I have a Capitals jersey, I ran cross-country, and I was on a basketball team. But the one sport I’ve never been able to stand happens to be the most important: football.
My brothers live and die by the Redskins. I’ve never seen anyone more emotionally connected to something that seems so inherently stupid. I just don’t understand the appeal: the games are long and slow and the rules make no sense. So when The Big Game was on (in our house, every Redskins game is The Big One) I’ve always just retreated to my room. Until now.
Tragedy of tragedies, the Redskins have actually started winning games. Suddenly, DC is skins mania. Redskins’ flags and decals have appeared on every car; selfies of girls in jerseys clog my Facebook newsfeed. And everyone is talking about it.
Because I want to take part in conversation, I’ve had to start leading a sort of double life. In private, I can detest football all I want. Out in the world, I am another red and gold clad fan.
Whenever anyone brings the subject up, I pass on bits of information that I’ve picked up from other people, such as “they’re playing Seattle” and “this is a big one.” Or I stick to general things like “go Redskins!” and “I hope they win.” (Hint: the name of the best player is R. G. III, not Argie 3). If I’m talking to a fellow Poser, the conversation will dry out at this point and we can move on to safe waters. If I’m talking to an actual football fan, they’ll take over and babble something about stats and kicks and rushes and all I have to do is nod along.
At the end of a long day of faking devotion, you think I would be safe in my own home. But no. The trial has just begun.
Since both of my brothers moved out, my mom has demanded that I watch the Redskins games with my dad so he doesn’t feel lonely. To convince him that this is a voluntary decision, I do my best to fake enthusiasm.
Because I never know what’s going on, every time something big happens, I let out a general sort of “oh! Oh! Ooooooooooh!” in a tone that can be taken as either happy or agonized. Whatever my dad says, I switch it up a little and say it back to give the impression that I understand the game: “he’s down!” “Oh yeah! He is so down.” (Is down a good thing? There’s down, as in on the ground, and then there’s a sort of noun form, as in ‘a down’). Every once in a while I take initiative and say something risky like “this is crazy.”
I thought I was doing pretty well until the third quarter of tonight’s game, when my dad turned to me and said “you have no idea what’s going on, do you?” I hid the phone I had been secretly texting on and protested: “yes I do! We just tackled that guy!” Turns out, I was wrong- the other team had just scored a field goal.