Our classy neighbor Melissa invited us to her Super Bowl party. Among the other guests were assorted neighbors, several women friends of Melissa’s own, and some people who are involved with her son Michael’s youth football program. “Happy holidays,” she greeted us. The Super Bowl is an extension of the holidays, I guess. Melissa was showing off a brand-new flat-screen above the mantel in her family room. “We’ve been having a relationship,” she said. Michael and his friends had their own TV downstairs in the man cave. There was a barrel of pop in the garage, beer in the fridge, and lots of food in the counter, including chili and cornbread, and three kinds of dip, all cheesy-heavy and unambiguously scrumptious. A great philosopher who was present said, “The Super Bowl is the only day of the year when it’s OK for the kids to have brownies for dinner.”
The first half of the game was spellbinding. Just when it looked as though the Cardinals had rallied from being ten down and would go ahead before halftime, James Harrison made the stunning goal-line interception and 100-yard runback for touchdown, which raised the roof and ballooned the Steelers’ lead to 17-7. It was one of the most dramatic football moments ever.
We were well stocked with 3-D glasses from various contributors and watched the promotions that opened the halftime portion. I’d never seen 3-D and my life is completely changed and I can never look at regular TV again and will just have to find an ophthalmologist who will weld those lenses to my eyes so I don’t have to bother about the glasses. My favorite commercial was the Doritos spot in which the guy takes a bite of a chip and an attractive woman loses her dress and parades in her underwear. He takes another bite and cash spews from an ATM. Another bite: the policeman melts away. But then, empty bag in hand, the Doritos guy is smacked by a bus.
I also liked the later Cheetos spot with Chester the Cheetah coming to the aid of the damsel in distress at the outdoor restaurant, throwing a few Cheetos at the feet of the louche woman yakking on her phone: a flock of pigeons descend.
In the halftime musicale, it was clear from the way he hoisted his bones atop the piano that the Boss had taken his Geritol. With apologies to Laura in Texas and other Springsteen devotees, I found this performance to be pure fontina. I saw him at the L.A. Sports Center almost thirty years ago; there was nothing original about him then and I can’t believe he’s still promulgating his tawdry East Coast clichés. Prince’s halftime show a couple of years ago still stands as the all-time Super Bowl concert.
Some people arrived late, and I was introduced to a woman who said, “So you’re the neighbor with no kids?” She had already spoken to Susan, who divulged as much. The nosy interloper persisted. I could swear she asked whether we were childless by choice, but this morning Susan says the question addressed whether we’ve ever had any children at all. That’s a stupid thing to ask anyone, but I guess it would match the answer I gave: “We had some, but we ate them. They were delicious.” This riposte was perfectly placed, and she recoiled. Otherwise, I would have happily elaborated about the four-year-old and the barbecue sauce.
Susan went home during the third quarter, but I stayed in order to ensure that Melissa wouldn’t be left with a surplus of beer. While the Cards worked away at the Steelers’ 20-7 lead, I chatted with a couple of neighbor guys, one a “Go Blue” Michigan Wolverines sports fan. “What school did Edgerrin James play for?” someone asked about the Cards’ back.
“Miami,” I said.
Go Blue corrected me. “It was Florida.”
A moment later, as if by divine intervention, a graphic appeared on the screen and asserted that Edgerrin James was in his tenth year out of Miami.
I let Go Blue off the hook by saying James has a similar style to Fred Taylor, the longtime Jaguars’ runner, out of Florida.
Larry Fitzgerald’s catch and gallop for the go-ahead score delivered another thrilling moment, and I fervently hoped the Cards would hang on. Everybody was rooting for them. But the Steelers dramatically marched downfield. In the game’s last minute, Go Blue made sport of Santonio Holmes after he missed a catch while leaping high in the corner of the end zone. Holmes is from Ohio State—I’ve always marveled at how he is but one ascender away from being named Santohio—so Go Blue’s cry was, “Hah, good hands, Buckeye!” But on the next try, Holmes dazzled everyone with his splendid grab and inbounds toe-dragging for the game-winner.
We were happy to be treated to such a spectacle. John Madden could be heard saying this is what the NFL is all about, a heavyweight title fight, which pallid metaphor must have been authored by Springsteen. The picture that stays with me is of Roethlisberger, at six feet five and 241 pounds, standing on the sideline and snuggling Holmes, listed as five feet eleven and 192 pounds but looking dwarfish.