ALL WEEKENDS are good, except maybe the ones when your daughter goes off to visit some guy at college, but this weekend is great. This is the weekend that climaxes in Curse the Cowboys Sunday, when the Crucial Dallas Game will be on TV and everything else in town will be on hold.
In our neighborhood, families used to hunker down separately for the Crucial Dallas Game (every Dallas game is crucial), and when something good or bad happened everybody ran out in the yard to cheer or cuss. But then came the era of the instant replay -- we've been hating Dallas from way back -- and if you run outside you miss the SloMo, plus maybe turn an ankle or spring the storm door.
So now we gamepool it. Various families host the CDG in turn, which enhances the sense of community and, since the rotation takes a couple of seasons,gives past host households time to deal with the toothprints in the rug and the dents in the walls.
How can anyone despise Dallas so? How can anyone not hate those silver-and-blue bullies? Breathes there a fan with soul so dead he doesn't want Tom Landry's head?
A fully matured Dallas-damner is one who suffered with the Skins through the Sixties, when you could drive down to D.C. Stadium on Sunday morning and buy a ticket, take the change from your $10 bill and buy a beer and two hotdogs, and go sit down and watch some team beat hell out of the Redskins, who had only one winning season between 1960 and 1971. In those days, for Our Guys to keep it close was a triumph, and after a victory we danced in the streets like V-E Day.
Early on it sometimes seemed like we were the only team the Dallas expansion franchise could beat, and in the last three years of that dismal decade they beat us six straight.
Then came the Seventies, when the Redskins became competitive, and we sat at home or in RFK Stadium and watched them nearly sweep Dallas again and again. Sometimes we'd build leads of two or three touchdowns, but always in the last two or three minutes some one or another of Landry's quarterback clones would throw twenty or thirty passes for however many touchdowns The Boss specified.
Short-circuit one of his technicians, such as the one called Staubach, and he'd calmly plug in one called Longley, or White; the only difference was the number on its shirt. The real secret, according to a comic book Landry once authorized, was that Dallas had suited up God, and that those miraculous finishes were but modest examples of His works.
Occasionally the miracles went our way, such as Kenny Houston's stonewalling of Cowboy fullback Walt Garrison at the goal line as time expired on 8 October 1973, but usually the angels went flitting through the Redskins' backfield, befuddling our free safeties and cornerbacks on behalf of the Dallas Coven of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
You could carpet RFK Stadium with the corpses of Washington fans who've succumbed to strokes or heart failure while watching the Skins-Boys cliffhangers; in half a hundred meetings the average difference in score has been 1.8 points in favor of the bad guys.
Now, in the Eighties, the Redskins are sometimes favored to beat the Cowboys, and this year, for the first time, they could do it twice in one regular season, as Dallas has done us six times.
The latter-day Landry, no longer the Great Stone Face, grimaces on the sidelines and slaps his clipboard. Several times he has thrown his hands over his head, and once he was seen to jump up a little way into the air, and come down.
But real Dallaphobiacs will not be satisfied until Landry takes off that damned hat, and throws it upon the ground, and gets down on his hands and knees and chews on it.
Because Tom Landry owes us.