I have a neighbor, Dee Starry, who may be the sweetest woman this side of Mary Tyler Moore.
Dee hates the Dallas Cowboys.
"I can't stand Roger Staubach," this sweet woman said through clenched teeth. "For me, Roger Staubach is the epitome of dislike. The only thing, honest to God, that I hate in this world is the Dallas Cowboys football team."
Why would this sweet person hate a quarterback who is called Captain Nice?
"Because of my total love for the Redskins," Dee said, her voice turning sweet again.
For the football section yoy have in hand, the boss asked a relative newcomer to Washington to write down "your thoughts on your first year of Washington football mania."
Naturally, I thought about Dee Starry.
She's the only maniac I know who spent $8 to have a man put a wooden frame around Billy Kilmer's autograph.
As much as Dee dislikes Staubach, she loves Kilmer.
It all started in 1971 when Dee's husband, Jack, spent 10 days in the hospital for surgery. Until then, Dee didn't know a football from a brown shoe.
"We ran out of things to talk about in the hospital room in those 10 days," Dee said. "So we watched the football games on television. And I got hooked. That was when Sonny Jurgensen was hurt and Bill was the quarterback. That's why I'm such a Billy fan."
So great is her devotion to Kilmer that she once dared a man to punch her in the face.
Dee is a loving wife and caring mother of three children -- Melissa, 15, Chris, 13, and Jack, 7. She is eminently sensible, pays her taxes and does not kick small dogs.
So why would anyone want to break her face?
"The year before last at the Cowboys' game here, I was sitting next to some man who was booing Billy," Dee said.
"I told the man I was sick and tired of people booing Billy and cheering for Joe Theismann to play. I told him if it hadn't been for Billy, they could've just forgotten the whole schmeer.
"During this, my husband pretended he didn't know me. He whispered to me, "That guy is ready to punch you."
"And I said, 'I'm bigger than he is, he wouldn't dare.' And he didn't."
In the course of a sportswriter's duty, I came across Kilmer. So I asked him to sign an autograph for Dee. I gave the signature to Dee, who promptly proclaimed it "the best present in my whole life."
She took the piece of paper to a professional picture-framing shop. For $8, a man made up a frame and matting in the Redskins' colors of burgundy and gold. The framed autograph now hangs on Dee's family room wall -- right next to her needlepoint of a Redskin helmet and right above her Redskin lamp.
"My husband knows that, of all the people in the world, he could never lose me -- unless Kilmer walked down the street," Dee said.
Pause. Small giggle.
"I'm so crazy."
"But I'm only going to be here once, right?"
And as long as she's going to be in this world only once, she might as well have fun, right?
Like sitting in the rain for three hours.
That's what Dee did two weeks ago when a rainstorm hit RFK Stadium during the Redskins-Packers exhibition game.
"I'd walk through snow six feet deep to see the Redskins," she said. "I'd do anything, anything at all. That Packers game, I sat in the rain three hours. I wouldn't budge out of that seat -- because it was right behind the Redskins' bench.
"All that rain, wow. I came home with my jeans weighing 17 pounds."
Redskin tickets, I've learned, are precious possessions. At a luncheon the other day, I heard this conversation . . .
First man: "Do you have Redskin tickets?"
Second man: "Yes, sir."
First: "I thought I'd wait and get them after I got out of the Army in '65. Well, they were all gone."
Second: "I had two tickets. And 10 years ago, I married into four more -- four of the best tickets anybody could have."
Wise-guy sportswriter: "You chose your wife well."
Second man: "Those four tickets --kle in my eye."
The Starrys sent in an application for tickets seven years ago.
"There are about 6,415 people ahead of us on the list," Dee said wistfully.
Not that such inconvenience dampens her enthusiasm. She gets to a few games and watches the others on television ("On Sundays, I make spaghetti for dinner and it has to be shoveled down at halftime so I can get back for the second half.")
Just a week ago, at a wedding, a man gave a football to Dee's 7-year-old son.
Dee found out it was a football from a Redskin game.
It was, in fact, from a game in which strong safety Ken Houston made a spectacular, game-saving tackle at the goal line to beat the cursed Dallas Cowboys and the despised Roger Staubach.
Seeing the football, Dee made a decision.
"I told Jack he couldn't have it," this sweet, loving mother said.
"I'm going to get a stand for it and put it in my Redskin collection," she said.