It's time to start planning the biggest event of the year, your Super Bowl party. I don't get as riled up about the game as I used to -- I think it's because players now change teams as often as they change their jockstraps -- but I do still love a good party.
Growing up in Minnesota, I learned in Sunday school that the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears, along with their fans, were covens of Devil worshipers who frequently sacrificed small animals to pagan gods in order to beat the Vikings. When Jim McMahon appeared, we all waited for the signs from Revelation to come to pass, because we knew the incarnation of the Antichrist walked the sidelines of Soldier Field. Back then, it was easy: You hated some teams and had blind faith in yours.
Today we still tend to treat our teams like our siblings, only with more respect. Our teams provide us with great pride -- as long as they are winning. We can't wait to get to work and belittle our friend whose team was "crushed" by three points in overtime on Sunday. Our teams give us an immense sense of pride. If we could, we'd carry around wallet-sized photos of our teams that we could show everyone, like they were our newborn children.
Not about a restaurant
But the lines are getting blurred. Players and owners have no loyalty to each other anymore, and this makes it difficult for us fans. Gone are the days of rabid fanaticism, when you were completely willing to risk bodily harm to confront a guy who outweighed you by 200 pounds just to make sure he knew without a doubt that his team and its players sucked. Free agents are dealt around the league faster than Jerry Jones gets sick of his latest coach. It used to be that players stayed on a team until they were put out to pasture at the end of their careers -- and by then their skills had faded, so you hated them anyway, because they had blown crucial third-down plays for at least one season. Now your favorite player suddenly starts playing for an opposing team, and under the old rules, you have to hate this player -- but you really loved this guy before. If it were socially acceptable and medically possible, you would have gotten a sex-change operation just to date him. So what do you do?
You go to a Super Bowl party and talk about how this guy was so dominant in his college days.
Super Bowl parties have changed, too. I remember when everyone at a party would cheer violently for one team because, at the very least, everyone was loyal to the AFC or the NFC. There may have been some dissenters, but they typically had no interest in being locked in a garage with no clothes on during a Minnesota winter, so they kept their mouths shut. These parties had no women at them, either, and as a result, they were similar to a frat party, only with more vomiting. But now women demand to go to Super Bowl parties because they say that while they like sports, they love football. Unfortunately, women do not have the genetic makeup to actually care about football. Their attitude is that the playoffs are an annual event that doesn't really matter. Guys, of course, realize that the playoffs and the Super Bowl matter more than who they voted for in the last presidential election.
Where to hold a party? At the home of whoever has the biggest TV. Typically, this friend will have a wife or live-in girlfriend, and her unreasonable requests that you "put a coaster under that beer" or that you stop wiping your boogers under your seat will end abruptly when she herds the other women into the bedroom, where they'll lock themselves in and plot the murder of every guy there.
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What do you serve? Since your friend's girlfriend will undoubtedly provide quality snacks to impress all the other girlfriends, you won't have to bring anything unless you actually want to eat. Finger foods are not appropriate for guys on Super Bowl Sunday unless they have "hot" or "Buffalo" as part of their names. You should bring enough food with sufficient fat content that all of you are having chest pains by halftime. A classy move to show your appreciation and that you have no hard feelings about her making things called "quiches" is to bring your hostess a really nice six-pack that she can enjoy while she cleans up. Your host should have already realized that there can never be too much beer at a Super Bowl party; you should remind him that you prefer a particularly expensive kind and that he should keep plenty on hand. After all, it's your party.
A crucial planning question: What to do at halftime? With any luck, the network will just rerun the Miller Lite ("Straight From the Jockstraps of the Pros") beer commercial featuring the two near-naked women locked in mortal combat. Unfortunately, after the ad, you'll get the Red Hot Chili Peppers reunited with Tony Bennett, singing tunes to the accompaniment of the Juilliard Orchestra (John Williams, conductor), and unless you've planned ahead, that will inspire an exodus to the bathroom similar to the running of the bulls at Pamplona. Most guys won't have left the couch for two hours, despite the fact that they've each had twelve beers; their bladders may have gotten so distended that their kidneys are failing from the pressure, but they will not give up their seats before halftime, because they don't want to miss a commercial. So now is the time to arrange a fair and organized system. Otherwise, guys will be doubled up at the toilet, with one at the sink, one in the shower and the rest going for distance over the balcony. If your hostess emerges at this point, she could have a fatal seizure, so have the courtesy to barricade her door.
Now you're ready for the second half. I, personally, have watched only two second halves in my entire Super Bowl-watching history. Typically, the game is over by this point. In my younger days, this would be the time for games involving really heavy drinking (a responsible host always had a good table for Quarters). Now, with age and a little moderation, I've slowed my rate to only three beers an hour. That way I can stay awake for any second-half commercials featuring Britney Spears.
The most important thing you want to remember on Super Bowl Sunday is to not overstay your welcome. After all, good manners bind society together. Your host will beg you to stay, but you should politely refuse: Witnessing a murder is not the way to end the biggest day of the year.