"Let's do this!" As we make our way to the stadium, Bob lets out a yell.
If Zach Thomas beat Thurman Thomas in a fight, I'd be happy.
We don't mean to be cruel; we're just expressing our desire to triumph against all odds. The Buffalo Bills are the Miami Dolphins' most dreaded foe. Since the start of training camp, we've been looking forward to this matchup. It's a chilly 68 degrees outside, but the atmosphere in the stadium is as hot as an oven.
As we settle into our seats just a few rows from the goal line, Bob exclaims, "It doesn't get any better than this."
When someone asks if I'd swap this for anything, I always say yes. There's nothing more I could want for: you and me, the crowd, the noise, the excitement. The clock is ticking down until the start of the game. The players sprint onto the field through the inflated Dolphins helmet as the crowd gathers. The national anthem is sung in unison by everyone. The Bills win the coin toss and take the opening kickoff. In the end, "That's the only thing you're going to win tonight!" I'm kidding.
It's been five years since Bob moved in with my mother and me, and he's getting married in March. Fortunately, I was spared the emotional turmoil and outbursts that so many children go through during their parents' divorce or remarriage. When I first met him, he made me feel at ease. He never tried to take control of the house or me. To be honest, we didn't feel the same kind of connection right away as I do with my parents. Friendship blossomed because of our shared love of football.
Before this season, I had no interest in football of any kind. Basically, I just thought of it as an uninspiring game in which obese guys would pile on top of each other. The first time Bob mentioned football, I rolled my eyes. I figured I'd have to put up with this till I went away to college. "Nice," I thought to myself. "It's great," she said.
I agreed to learn the game's mechanics from Bob grudgingly. With his aid, I was able to differentiate between linebackers and running backs in a "dogpile" In the same way that a quarterback would, we ripped through defenses and I called infractions before the referees could. The game's basic structure became apparent to me, and its logic nicely complemented my predominately left-brained thinking style. Football, more than anything else, provided us with a common basis for connection.
The announcer yells, "Touchdown, your Miami Dolphins!" Thirteen thousand blue-clad Bills fans slump dejectedly in their seats as sixty-five thousands of aqua-clad Dolphin fans applaud in the aisles. When we score a touchdown, Bob and I perform our unique ritual of exchanging high fives six times: once for each point scored. We exchange another high five as Olindo Mare puts the ball through the goal posts as if he was aiming it at us. The sound of the Dolphins' jingle reverberates off the stadium's walls, and the lingering smoke from the previous night's fireworks fills the space.
Awed, Bob exclaims, "They just can't get past our defense." After a fast 10-0 lead, the Dolphins defense annihilates any hope of a comeback by the Bills. After the Dolphin defense commits a pass-interference penalty, the Bills offense drives down to the three-yard line. All three of their attempts—two runs and a pass—fail. They have to kick a field goal on fourth down, but a linebacker blocks the kick and they fail to score. We howl and bump our chests together like wolves. We giggle at the Buffalo fans two rows in front of us as we enjoy the goal-line stand.
After only half of the season, football had become a household ritual in my house. During the course of every Sunday, I found myself watching football nonstop for nine hours straight. The result of this was that Bob and I spent a significant amount of time on our reclining couch, which is by far the finest spot for men to converse. When we weren't chatting about football, we would watch beer advertisements or auto commercials, which gave us the chance to talk about other things like my homework, my karate progress, his employment, or his most recent scuba diving adventures. Marriage, my father-daughter bond, and our thoughts regarding my mother also came up during our conversation. We had a great excuse to meet up because to football.
"And your Miami Dolphins lead the Buffalo Bills twenty to ten at the half," the announcer said. It was time to put the game on hold for a while.
"When do you plan to take the SAT?" Bob inquires.
My exam is scheduled for April." You know, it doesn't really count. Just to see how good my language skills are, so that I can identify areas for growth."
Is there a girl in your life who you're currently interested in?
"It's not that simple. For some reason, I'm not interested in the girl I used to like. What's going on at work?"
There's no need to worry about it. This week, several of the tech stocks took a beating, while medicines made a good showing. My dad lives in Minnesota, so when are you going there to see him?"
"Not this weekend, but the one after that," she said. "Up there, it's getting fairly chilly."
Until the game resumes, we continue to converse. In a matter of seconds, Miami secures its advantage with a touchdown. The offense is on autopilot, and the defense is holding firm. As the clock ticks down to zero, the Dolphins come out on top, 30-13. At this point, the victory song is being played over the speakers. Fans swarm into the parking lot, yelling "victory!" as players sprint to the locker room, helmets raised in the air.
"Wow, what a great show." After ranting for hours, my voice has become raspy and muffled. "We played the best game of our lives."
"That's correct, I see. Marino scored 30 points, we only allowed one touchdown, and Mare kicked a perfect field goal for us tonight.. Leaving the stadium in this fashion is always a joy."
"Esp. after a few too many Monday-nighters. I don't want to lose, be dejected on the way home, and then only get three hours of sleep the night before my big test the following day. Ouch, this has really worn me out. "I'm exhausted by the intensity."
"Dave, it was a blast. When you see something with a friend, it's always more fun together. You're really engrossed in it. "What the hell are you, a crackpot?"
Because of our shared love of football, my feelings for Bob have grown closer to those of a brother's. This shift symbolizes Bob's move from a guest to a full-time resident. Rather than saying, "Hey, Bob. How's it going?" I greet him with "Good morning, Bob. "What are you up to this afternoon?" A part of me feels like a missing piece when my father relocated to Minnesota without telling me that I am his son. To our surprise, it all began with a brown pigskin ball.
Football's appeal stems in its ability to bring people together. In its ability to bring people together, love truly is a wonder.