This year, Dave decided not to watch the big game.
Some years he does; usually he’s after the rush of a cutting-edge commercial he’s been promised (yes, he’s a very visual guy). And viewing said commercial on a high definition flat screen TV makes for an even bigger charge.
Of course, he might also be watching for the half-time show, and the chance to commune with one of his musical idols. Like last year, when his mounting excitement about Bruce Springsteen could not be contained.
But the game itself? Not so much. I mean, he’s a fairly evolved guy. And I consider myself a feminist. So all that testosterone-induced pounding and crushing doesn’t really do it for us.
Oh, wait. I forgot about those 15-plus years when we followed the 49ers.
That was mostly out of respect for my mother, though. She was a fervent Niners fan in the 60’s and 70’s, back when the team was pretty bad. So after she was gone, and they got good, what choice did I have but to pick up the torch and follow the home team?
We were never that into it, though.
Oh. Wait. I forgot about Super Bowl XXIII, when the Niners faced the Bengals.
What a nail biter! The game was so close in the final minutes that I couldn’t watch. I got up, opened the door, and started towards the street. Dave gently talked me through it, though: “It’s okay honey. They’re doing well. You can come back.”
But that was just an isolated episode.
Oh…wait. I forgot about that year I tore a small photo of Joe Montana’s head out of a magazine and attached it to a pin cushion.
It sat next to me all season, comforting me through penalties, interceptions, blocked kicks, and incomplete passes. As a matter of fact, it saw me all the way to another Super Bowl win.
I guess I also forgot about my girlish infatuations with Dwight Clark, Roger Craig, Jerry Rice. And the sheer madness of driving around San Francisco after a Super Bowl win, streets packed with honking cars and reveling fans. Or the parade down Market Street. Not to mention our freezing extremities on those rare days that we actually had tickets to the game and sat huddled against the wind in Candlestick park.
Yep, good times. But then again, times do change.
I suppose our lives got busier. We became interested in other things. The team lost a bit of its luster.
Whatever it was, the grip of the 49ers slowly loosened its hold on us, and we found ourselves spending fewer and fewer Sundays in front of the TV.
I know some would say we’re simply fair-weather fans. Perhaps. Although at times I suspect our burning devotion to the team had a lot to do with community, a sense of shared experience. A particular moment in time that felt bigger than each of us individually, and was bound to fade eventually.
In spite of that, however, I like to think there’s something deeper at work here too.
So when Dave reversed his call about watching the Super Bowl last Sunday, and turned the TV on to catch the last five minutes, I didn’t hesitate to join him. And with that now-famous interception that has no doubt been played again and again this week, it all came back so fast. There I was, talking (some might say yelling) to the screen:
Go, go, go! What are you doing? Run!
It reminded me just how complex we human beings are. Because that football-frenzied-female isn’t really me. Or is she?
If you met me, you might not see her. I’m rather calm. Low key, I think. Well behaved. With a tendency towards depth and peacefulness. And yet, I can be quite the opposite: frantic, high strung, rebellious, shallow, rowdy.
Actually, I am all of it.
And that’s the point I’ve been getting to, in a roundabout way.
We all are all of it. Light. Dark. Strong. Weak. Smart. Stupid. Masculine. Feminine.
A study in contrasts.
Like every record, we have a flip side. Like every coin, we’re both heads and tails.
Where we stumble, I think, is in denying it. Pushing it down into the shadow lands of our existence, proclaiming that we are one way and not the other. Until the day it bursts through, stunning us with its unexpected force. Knocking us to the ground.
So I’m always happy for a day like last Sunday, where I learn again to unapologetically embrace the paradox of humanity.
My own and everyone else’s.