Editor’s Note: I’ve complained a lot on this blog about my husband abandoning me on the weekends to go to the University of Georgia football games. Finally, here’s HIS view on the subject.
By Michael A. Giarrusso
Ever since our first child was born, my wife has had a hate-hate relationship with college football, a game that she once loved. She’s written about it here many times, but to summarize:
We used to go to games together all the time, and she was generally an attentive and enthusiastic fan. She simply couldn’t go as much after the kids were born. Babysitters were tough to find, especially since my in-laws go to games themselves most Saturdays. And bringing small children to loud, hot Sanford Stadium is not a great idea.
I kept the tickets, and Theresa was replaced by my best friend. For the last eight years, she has become more and more resentful of this situation, angry at me for going, for leaving early or staying late and for drinking while I’m there. So when my friend couldn’t go this weekend, Theresa set up a babysitter and planned to join me for our first game date in years.
As soon as she agreed to go, I started remember some reasons I didn’t always enjoy bringing her.
1) Not long after saying she wanted to go, Theresa started channeling Al Roker, terrified about how the weather would affect her comfort. Theresa complains about the heat when it’s over 76 degrees and complains about the cold when it’s under 72. If it’s going to be sunny and hot, she brings a duffel bag full of sunscreen, water, ice packs, sunglasses and fans. If it’s going to be the least bit chilly, she brings gloves, hats, sweaters, parkas and a Thermos of hot chocolate. In the rain … more on that later.
2) She immediately tries to complicate the plan. My friend and I have a simple setup. He picks me up. I bring bourbon. We buy large fountain Cokes at a gas station, and replace the soda that we drink with bourbon. We bring no food or games, and we don’t go anywhere except to our parking spot and the stadium. We stay until the game is out of reach. But Theresa wants to see if we can meet her friend on the other side of town. She suggests driving downtown _ ignoring the fact that it’s impossible to park downtown on game day _ to visit one of her favorite restaurants. After the game, we should stop and visit her friend. She doesn’t seem all satisfied with my bourbon and Coke menu, and will probably want me to buy one of those overpriced hot dogs at the stadium.
3) Theresa likes to talk, regardless if anyone wants to hear it. I’m not your typical “Go Dawgs!” football fan. I’m a former sportswriter, and I take a more serious and analytical approach to the game. If you’re going to sit with me, don’t ask stupid questions or make ignorant statements about the game. Theresa used to pay attention to sports, but she has not for at least a decade, and that hurts her ability to analyze. When Arizona State took the field, she asked if Dennis Erickson was the same guy who once coached Miami. I was impressed, but then I remembered that he coached about Miami 20 years ago, when Theresa actually watched sports. If I won’t talk to her, she’ll start making non-football conversation with our neighbors. I’ve sat next to some of these people for more than 10 years and barely know most of them. But Theresa gets their whole life story during one TV timeout.
4) By far the biggest problem taking Theresa to the stadium is that she cares much more about her personal comfort level than the game or my feelings about the game. Even if weather isn’t an issue, she’ll complain about being hungry, or scrunched in too closely, or being too close to the band. By Friday, she was checking the weather radar every hour, and telling me the exact percentage chance of rain. By Saturday morning, she was pricing waterproof pants. She warned me that she needed an even bigger bag than usual, this one stocked with dry clothes. She kept asking if I would promise to leave if the rain was too much, and she claimed that it would be just as much fun to watch at a bar or at our friends’ house in Athens. By the time she went on a rant about the unfairness of the rule banning umbrellas in the stadium, I knew it wasn’t worth it to bring her.
Last November, I took my father to the Georgia Tech-Georgia game and it rained on us for four straight hours. He never complained or whined or asked to leave. His rain supplies consisted of a baseball hat, a windbreaker and some paper towels in his pocket that he occasionally used to dry off our soaked bench. If he were available Saturday, I would have taken him. But my only choice was Theresa, which meant I was better off watching on TV.
By the time I gave up on Theresa, it was too late to get another partner, so I stayed home too. Even though we weren’t in the stadium, I got to experience some of her game behavior on the couch. It’s definitely different than going with my friends, who rarely make comments about Joe Cox’s haircut, Uga’s feelings about the rain or whether Mark Richt ever cusses underneath his breath.
During the game, she quickly ran out of things to say about football, and tried to engage me in conversations about the science of baking, our Christmas budget and replacing the carpet in our flooded basement.
Who knows, maybe there will be another chance for us to go together later this year. Let’s hope for a partly cloudy, 72-degree day with room to spread out and short lines at the concession stands. If not, I’ll just pray for patience.