Warning: For those who felt badly for me when my kid told me I looked like a gorilla should stop reading now. More honest self-deprecation lies ahead. If you choose to read on, remember that personal style is a choice, and I am quite comfortable with mine. No need for affirming and encouraging words about how I look. I am all set. Really.
Having attended a few New England Patriots football games at Gillette Stadium, I am beginning to see some fan patterns. First off, the biggest and most rare treat is a trip to the bathroom. There is little or no line in the women’s room, even at halftime. The line for the men’s room is always long. Women can get in and out of the bathroom before the commercial break ends. Bonus!
There is an odd shift in the crowd towards the end of 3rd quarter. Some men in jerseys who have been drinking for hours before and during the game enter a whole different mental zone. When a player on the field has a big play, these guys wearing that player’s jersey seem to get the idea that they are actually responsible for the play. With the help of a lot of beer, they have become the player. They stand up, turn to the crowd and display the jersey while soaking up the cheers from the people in the stands who happen to be watching the game looking in their direction. Each section seems to have one of these boneheads who swaggers and points towards his number with exaggerated nodding to acknowledge what a badass he is for getting a first down or making a big tackle.
It is confusing for these fellas when someone tells them to sit down because, in their mind, they are making it happen down there on the field. Reality and fantasy have merged. It is funny the first two times, but then it gets old. The problem is that the initial reaction of our laughter combined with their impaired judgment encourages them to bask in all the cheering. They get pissed when everyone turns on them and yells to get out of the way. Sometimes this leads to a fight and sometimes removal by the authorities, which is always a relief until the next hero of the game gets rolling. And there is always another hero.
A walk to the bathroom during the late 3rd quarter brings a whole new light to beer goggles. Even though I walk all around the tailgating scene before games and around the stadium unnoticed by guys, suddenly I am treated like a super model. At the New York Jets game this year, I had not showered and had bags under my eyes. I was wearing a Patriots baseball cap, an oversized men’s Jerod Mayo jersey, a scrappy long skort, and dirty running shoes, yet I had developed some kind of 3rd quarter magnetism. The crowd of guys who were packed together watching the game on the Jumbotron had bleary eyes and sheeny skin after a big day of partying. I guess guys who buy a ticket to watch the game on a screen with their backs to the actual game would leer at a woman like me as if I was hot, steamy and naked, rather than a scrappy middle-aged regular gal in a baseball cap who had once been compared to Snape. It was not just a couple of guys staring. My instinct was to hock a lugie of snot on the ground which an excellent way to repel unwanted attention from lecherous men, but I did not want to defile my church. It is a little scary to realize that any woman who walked by felt like an appetizer on a tray. And there weren’t many of us walking around; probably for this reason.
There is a ratio phenomenon that occurs in groups of men. Having spent my life playing sports with guys and then becoming a ski coach, it didn’t take long to figure this out. When there are very few women in a dominantly male environment, we all look pretty good. This is especially true if the group is drinking, trapped in a small town way up in the mountains away from civilization for days on end, or at a football game with mostly male fans. Once the group moves to a bar or away from the stadium where a more balanced population hangs out, women like me groove right back under the radar, which is actually a much-underrated place to be.
Next time I go to a game, I will bring one of my diapers to put on at halftime so I don’t have to leave my seat. Or maybe I will wear the diaper to the game under my clothes. During 3rd quarter, I will crinkle by the sheeny boys and give them a little peak at the band of my Depends. That should sober them up.