Pat’s Funny Bone

Pat Van Dyke Columnist, The Friday Flyer

Pat Van Dyke
Columnist, The Friday Flyer

I like sports, but only as a spectator; however, I am married to a person who sometimes thinks that sports is the only way to view life. Before we were married (many, many, years ago), I envisioned our evenings sitting next to the fireplace, sipping on hot cocoa, eating popcorn and watching an old movie on TV: something totally romantic such as “Love Story.” I know she dies in the end, but she does it so romantically. Hearing Oliver say at the end of the movie “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” still is so romantic.

At first, for about two weeks, that was our life, but then I learned the truth: “Love is never asking your husband to change the channel.” He is in charge of the TV; it’s his territory!

Years ago, we only had 7 channels. Choices were few. Decisions were easy. I knew very little about football, but there was little football to watch so there was no need to know more.

But then the metamorphosis began. We have so many channels on our TV now that we can have sports on all week, all day and every hour of the day.

In order to maintain a reasonable amount of communication in the fall, I took the plunge the first week of November and goggled “Football Terms.” I soon felt I was prolific in the sport of football and, after 48 years, I finally understood why “I’ll be right there.  There’s only 4 more minutes in the game,” translates into “I won’t be there for 20 more minutes.”

I was going to begin watching football the week before Thanksgiving, but I was too busy getting ready for my highest level of cooking…Thanksgiving dinner! I prepped, cooked and served. It all was perfect except for the fact that my entire 9×13 pan of baked potato casserole ended up on the floor. I then had to convince my guests that I was sure that the pilgrims had a little dirt in their baked potato casserole and I was trying to make the meal authentic.

After dinner, I was all set. It was now time for football! I started out by asking which bowl game we were watching. That spurred on some snickers and strange looks from the men. “Bowl Game?” All these years, I thought that when two teams play on a holiday, it’s some kind of a bowl game. I know the Rose Bowl is on New Year’s Day, so there must be a “Turkey Bowl, Pumpkin Pie Bowl, or Cranberry Sauce Bowl” on Thanksgiving Day.

My next question was, “Whose turn is it to hike the football?” Again, more stares, but Pastor Pete quietly said, “The Cowboys have the ball.” I was making progress! I was on the right track. The men were smiling. I must be impressing them.

I thought I would try a more reasonable question. “What university are the Cowboys from?” This question must have been very impressive because they all looked at one another and smiled.

My next remark was one that I had rehearsed earlier in the day when I overhead a few of the men talking while I was preparing the dinner. I asked, “With the offence on the line of scrimmage, do you think the defense will score a safety after the next touchdown or will they try a lateral punt?” Two of the men gave me a high five. Yes, I had hit the jackpot!! I was now one of the guys.

I had broken through (or can I say fumbled through) the football language barrier. I was now able to speak to Pastor Pete about football with more knowledge than he knew that I had. I know that he was impressed because for the first time while watching football, he looked at me, shook his head and was speechless.

My next moved even impressed me! When all the players jumped into a pile, I yelled out, “You call that a face mask!  It’s clear that the tight end was doing a false start! These umpires don’t know what they are talking about!”

I was a bit concerned about the players that were at the various positions. I asked the men why outside linebacker was never outside, the wide receiver was not wide and the tight end was not “tight” at all.

One of Pastor Pete’s friends totally ignored me when I asked why a player was called a running back when he never ran back.

I got “the look” from Pastor Pete when I mentioned to his friends that some of these players weren’t too smart. After all, who would hold the ball while another guy with spikes on his shoes kicked it right past his face? Pastor Pete signed and told me that the holder was paid extra money to hold the ball which he needed because his wife liked to shop at Chico’s.

When the game was almost over, someone said, “This is where they need to throw a Hail Mary.” That term I hadn’t heard before so I grabbed my cell phone and goggled it. It means that they throw the ball and pray that someone catches it. I jumped up and shouted, “I love this game!! It even incorporates the power of prayer!”

The next three days found me watching football every chance I got. I watched the teams tackle, block, hold and fumble. I was thrilled with all of this action. The only problem was that I didn’t know which team was actually “my team.” Pastor Pete’s choice is always the USC Trojans, so I decided I would make our lives a bit more interesting and pick another team.

My number one consideration was choice of colors so I did a little research. I look terrible in green and yellow so the University of Oregon and the Green Bay Packers were out of the question. Also, I didn’t want to look like a John Deere tractor. I loved the purple uniforms of the Vikings and Ravens, but finally settled for the Ravens for purely educational reasons. Edgar Allen Poe (one of my favorite authors) wrote “The Raven” and died in Baltimore.

With all this said, I have been on “football overload” for over two weeks so I am going to cut back a little. I’m only going to watch the bowl games that sound interesting such as the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit. Who doesn’t enjoy watching a football player score a strike or a spare?