I can't stand it. I simply cannot stand it any more. It has got to end. And it has barely begun.
The football season is like pain. You forget how terrible it is until it seizes you again.
This weekend I remembered.
It's the noise that first gets to you. That constant horrible roar of the fans punctuated by the announcers, the bands, the cheerleaders, the instant replays, the interviews, the pre-game warmups, the idiocy of the post-game locker room discussions . . . "Well, frankly, Skip, we played real hard and we put everything we had into it and we're real pleased that we won but the other team did real well, too, and they sure had one great defense . . .
Sometines, even in the late spring and early summer I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and hear the drums, arum tum tum, arum tum tum, and see ther pompons and think that I'm in the middle of football season.
I know what it must be like to have been in England in World War II during the bombings and still wake up hearing that deaded sound.
This Saturday I went out shopping, returning home in a very up mood, pleased with my day's outings, only to hear IT.
Suddenly it all came flooding back to me.The long lonely weekends, the escape to Vogue and House and Garden (somehow, inexplicably, I can't read seriously during the season), the hopeless attempts at "getting to understand the game" . . .
"What's a first down again?" The looks of disdain, the guilt.
Fall used to be my favorite season. It was all so beautiful, so romantic, so exciting and mysterious, full of promises of wonderful things to come - long weekends in the country, wonderful walks in the woods, evenings by the fire, away from everything and everybody.
No more. Now it means just plain alone, just us and 27 million football nuts.
Take last weekend, for example. Once over the shock of realizing that IT had started, I decided to be brave and get through it. This year, I said to myself, I will learn to be my own person. I will assert my own identity. After all, I am a whole human being with my own mind, my own ideas, my own interests. Why can't I just go out and do something on my own instead of being dependent on HIM for my entertainment, my activities. I will use this free time to advantage, take advantage of all this glorious freedom to be me, to fulfill myself. I will be a good sport. They have their things, we have ours, I decide.
But it goes on an on and on.
We leave late for a short weekend (weekend - ha!) out of town, the only excuse for turning off the TV set.
We are met at the airport at our destination by a nice man. I sit in the back seat. They sit in front and talk football. They talk about teams and players I never heard of, names I never knew existed.
Words, like "running back," "offense," "first and 10," "safety blitz," "encroachment," waft past my ears, sending me into a frenzy of confusion and despair.
We leave at drawn the next morning in order to catch the only flight that gets us back to Washington in time for the Redskins game with the Giants. (New York, I think.)
We have to fly to Baltimore and drive to Washington because the flight to Washington National gets in too late.
The game begins.I read the papers. The game is over. The Skins lose - gloom. We go to a 4 o'clock movie. Thank God, that's over, I say, not even suspicious of why he wants to go to the 4 o'clock instead of the 6. I soon learn. There is another game on. Back from the movie, on goes the set. Dallas and somebody.
I can several of my friends to gossip. I can hear the football game in the background.
Once I talked without stopping from the beginning to the end of a Monday night football game to one friend on the phone. Not even at the half when he wanted to talk. That would show him. I can't be bought off at the half.
I feel my cool slipping away. I try to summon up my own identify, but fail. I find, against my will, I am beginning to whine.
I have to get out of the house. I go to my mother's. I get the car keys and wave them around threateningly.
"Where are you going?"
"What do you care?"
I go to my mother's. She is seething with rage. A whole weekend in the country with houseguests where she did all the cooking and the men sat glued to the TV set.
"I can't stand it another season," she says, her eyes welling with tears. We embrace.
We wonder if the divorce rate is higher during the football season. I remind her of the women who shot her husband toward the end of the season as he was watching the game on TV.
She reminds me of her sister, a woman of passion, who took an axe and smashed the TV set years ago during the middle of the season.
We wonder how intelligent, active, talented, successful men can turn into such unthinking blobs for such long periods of time.
Last night was a Monday night. Black Monday. The first Monday Night Football Game.
I used to think Don Meredith was sexy.Now I hate him. He has ruined a lot of Monday nights for me and now he's back again.
I'm trying to line up dinner with some women friends. Why don't they open the department stores and shops on Monday night instead of Thursday night during the season? Then at least you could go shopping.