My Grandpa Miller used to say that the rules of football were simple: all the guys went out on the field, smelled each other’s butts, and then tackled whoever smelled the worst. (excuse my language).
I grew up in a bubble where football did not really exist. It was just a passing thought, and even that only when someone else mentioned it. I was vaguely aware that the game existed, that it was on TV every Fall, and that people held something called “Super Bowl Parties” once a year where you could see good TV commercials and eat lots of food.
And then I met Jonathan.
We met in a Public Speaking class, and one of his first speeches was about Alabama Football. You’d think I would have clued in then… he was a little bit passionate about it. As we got to be friends, I realized that he was VERY passionate about it.
And then we started dating.
And I realized that he was VERY, very, extraordinarily passionate about it. I watched a few games with him, trying very hard to understand. I would watch everyone around me and just get excited when they got excited, and get upset when they got upset. It was a decent strategy. Things were going pretty smoothly, until I committed the ultimate crime and fell asleep during the 2010 Iron Bowl. After that, it was go big or go home, and I had to start caring.
And then we got married.
And he wore a houndstooth vest for our wedding, and people shook Alabama pom-poms as we left and yelled “Roll Tide.”
The good thing about it is that he is very willing to teach me about it. I don’t like not understanding things- especially things that I am around a lot. J is very patient in explaining various aspects of the game to me. His dad once told me, “If you really want to learn the game, you have to listen to it on the radio. Once you can just hear the game and understand what’s going on, then you can really appreciate watching it.” So, I tried to take advantage of the many games we listened to on the radio while driving to Alaska. I asked a lot of questions, and got a lot of answers. I asked a lot of the same questions twice, actually… for some reason, I struggled with converting the new information into long-term memory.
When we first got up here, we spent several afternoons in the yard with a ball, acting out different plays so that I could understand them better (I am a very kinesthetic learner). We have spent evenings covering papers in x’s and o’s so that I could memorize different formations, and I have been quizzed extensively on the various positions. By now, I still know very little. But I DO know the difference between an “ace,” an “I,” and an “offset I” formation. I know that the “pocket” isn’t something on the quarterback’s pants. Also, I know that when the quarterback is in the “shotgun position,” it doesn’t mean he’s about to shoot someone, and a “blitz” doesn’t have anything to do with colorful, numbered playing cards (there’s the Mennonite in me!).
There is only one rule that prevails over this whole process: Do not ask questions during an Alabama football game.
I have just enough competitiveness in me that I can feel myself sinking into the mire of Crimson Tide Fan-dom… someone, save me please.
I still do not care enough to leap around the room and scream like a banshee, but I do squeak with excitement occasionally. At the very least, now I know WHEN to squeak with excitement.
So, that is why today I found myself leaving work early, coming home, and changing into my super warm pajama bottoms and my Alabama shirt (no, they do not match). I piled onto the couch with my yarn and crochet hook, a bowl of popcorn, and four Hershey’s Kisses. I settled in to watch the game, and I did just that… while J hopped around and yelled and said things that made perfect sense to him… but just sounded like a bunch of random words to me. Things like, “I would love for them to get Trent to do some runs and grab some strings along the bubble gum back space and put some new spheres with the drum!”
I smile and nod and say “me too!” and eat my popcorn.
Then, when we won, there was a lot of yelling and jumping around, and fist pumps and clapping and texting of other rabid Alabama fans. For Jonathan. I ate popcorn and finished a row on my Granny Stripes blanket. =)