Gang's All Here

March 16, 2010
The hamburgers are all on their buns, the cupcakes are almost cool enough for icing, and my special sense (learned from many blackened bags) tells me the popcorn is done. I walk over to the microwave and remove the bag before the annoying bell goes off. I shake it a little and listen for the last few pops. When I put it in a bowl it spills out in a snow-like downpour and I smile. Though this isn’t the first time it has come out perfect, you’d smile too if you saw the way it came out at the first few of these parties. Next, the doorbell rings right on cue. He runs to it like a little kid and excitedly calls over his shoulder, “I got it, Hun!” He throws open the heavy door like a blanket he’s tossing aside and truckloads of familiar faces squeeze through the frame. I’m quickly handed six packs, chips, and boxes of hostess treats. I return them to the eager arms in bowls as fast as I can. Mumbled thanks and quick pecks on the cheek tell me they appreciate it, though they race out of sight to win the comfiest chairs. With the rush just beginning, I’m sure most would take a few seconds to breathe and remind themselves they asked for this. I just laugh and grab a set of fresh batteries for the remote before a fight breaks out. I head to the living room; here I perch myself on my well-worn sofa-arm seat. An arm instantly encircles my waist to pull me closer and he doesn’t even look up. Because this is my place and we’ve long since learned this. His hand around me is habit by now. As I change the batteries and turn up the volume though, I catch a sidelong glance from the eyes I love, looking up through lashes to let me know that I’m not forgotten in all the excitement.

We were seniors in high school when we first started dating, and he made it clear from the first day we met that though I may very well one day become the love of his life, sports had come before me. Especially football. I wasn’t offended, and though football was the one sport I knew absolutely nothing about, I respected this.
Actually, as an athlete, I shouldn’t say I respected it exactly, but I understood. I had always thought the guys who sat there yelling at their screens should be thrown into a game one day to show us how it’s done. But as our relationship grew I discovered he might’ve been able to hold his own if this happened. He knew the ins and outs of the game. Every loophole in the rules, every play in the book, every player, every statistic that mattered. His raw passion for football rubbed off on me and I found myself liking our game day dates and devouring his commentary hungrily. He quickly got me to a rudimentary understanding of how it was played and showed me the idiocy of rooting for certain teams-ever. I laughed at the dances he made to mirror the guy who scored, and comforted him when his teams lost. (Eventually, I even found myself hurting over those.) In the time we dated, I watched more football than I’d seen in the rest of my life up to that point. He still wooed me with fancy dinners and cute text messages to get me through the day, but I loved him most when I was helping him paint his chest or he was buying me a team sweater to keep me warm at a winter game. I think it was the same for him. His eyes lit up when he explained a call based on some exception I’d forgotten. His grin was ecstatic when I grasped any new concept and patient when he had to explain it again. “No, see? Because they did that, they were allowed to do that…” then he would peter off into more technical explanations and I would just smile and nod. He knew I didn’t understand it all yet, but he wanted to tell me anyway.

The guys are completely taken in by the game already and I think how glad I am that I had him make the burgers beforehand, knowing every game was too good of a game to be pulled away from. I spread the frosting over the cupcakes and scrawl NFL team logos over the tops. I make sure there are some of everyone’s favorites so no one goes hungry with cupcakes uneaten out of spite. I grab the platter and set it in front of them quietly, careful not to block anyone’s view. As I sit down again, a controversial call is made. He starts getting frustrated when they don’t fix it right away so I calmly explain to him, “No, see?…” and use all the technicalities in my arsenal. He grins that ecstatic grin and nods. We both know what I’m saying, but I want to tell him anyway…





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