I’m not a football fan. I’ve watched two games in the past decade—both of them were the Superbowl, Giants vs. Patriots, and both times, the Giants won. Because New York is closer to my heart (and home) than Boston, I’m a New York fan. Also, I liked the idea of the little guy beating the Cyborg, you know?
But when I was a kid, my father and brother were avid watchers. For some reason, we were Vikings fans. I seem to remember them getting to the Superbowl and losing a lot. We had a very comfortable family room with a giant fireplace, and my memories of Sunday afternoon in the winter always involve football and smoke. Our three Irish setters were allowed on the furniture, so we always had a dog draped across our laps. My sister would play or pretend to be a dog. She had a special language of sorts for our dogs, and strange names for them.
My brother and father would shout occasionally. Dad might doze in his chair. If it was a close game, there’d be some praying. Or cursing. Often both. I’d read Jane Eyre or Anne of Green Gables and eat Fritos. Theoretically, I did want the Vikings to win for the sake of my menfolk.
One year, our dog Patrick ran away on Superbowl weekend. He wasn’t neutered and often made the rounds. Kind of a ladies’ dog, Patrick was. There were a lot of reddish puppies in our neighborhood. But this time, Patty didn’t come home. We put an ad on the radio. I offered up a prayer in the hostage negotiating style my mother taught us—If God sent Patrick came home, He could let the Vikings lose.
Well, we got a phone call. A couple who lived about five miles away had seen Patrick loping down their street. He was a really beautiful, friendly dog and hopped right in their car when they stopped. They brought him home, gave him a steak and made a call to the dog warden, who told them we’d lost an Irish setter. A joyful reunion ensued (well…Patrick might not have wanted to leave those steak-giving people, but he seemed pretty happy to see us nonetheless).
The Vikings lost. Seemed like God accepted my bargain. And while I was sorry for Mike and Dad, it didn’t matter much when my big ole doggy’s head was resting in my lap.