Monday, December 16, 2013

Of Cookies and Cowboys

Every afternoon I drive over to Not Bad President Elementary School and wait for Lauren to get out.

She’s bigger now, so I no longer have to brave the scrum in front of the school itself.  Between the psychotic parents driving their 6L 900hp Ford Compensators (with heated seats!) and waving the drivers licenses that they clearly drew themselves earlier that morning using purple crayons and lined Big Chief notebook paper on the one hand, and the random ministrations of the local constabulary in full “I don’t have to listen to you, citizen, now do as I say” mode on the other hand, that’s a combat zone I’m more than happy to avoid.

So I wait up the street a block or so, legally parked and out of the fray.

In the past year or so I’ve even found a buddy.  He drives by in a little blue car and – usually on Mondays or Tuesdays – he’ll stop as he drives by and we’ll chat for a bit. 

Mostly we talk football.  This is an odd thing, really.  You see, I am – as befits my upbringing in the City of Brotherly Love – an Eagles fan.  I have been an Eagles fan for as long as I can remember.  I have been to a grand total of one professional football game in my life, when I was about six or so, and it was an Eagles game down at the old Vet when it was still the new Vet.  They lost of course – I think the Eagles won a grand total of five games during the entire Nixon Administration – but there my loyalties lie.  And my buddy is a Cowboys fan.

There was a time when we probably would not have spoken to one another.  The Eagles and Cowboys fought some hard games over the years, and the fan bases of each side regarded the other as somewhere between cockroaches and industrial effluvia on the desirability scale.  At one point the District Attorney of Philadelphia – a man who would go on to become the Mayor of Philadelphia and, eventually, the Governor of Pennsylvania – sat in the cheap seats and offered $10 to anyone who could hit the Cowboys coach with a snowball.  Many people tried.  I don’t know if anyone collected.  We all cheered anyway.

But we are both older now, he and I, and far from our respective homes.  We have mellowed.  It is nice to have someone who remembers the old battles, even someone from the other side.  And so we have become friends, in that special “guy” sense of the word that means we can talk sports and sincerely wish each other’s team luck even if we don’t actually know each other’s names.

It’s been a hard year for the both of us, fandom-wise.  The Eagles have had a couple of runs of smoke-and-mirror success but are at least a year away from being a team anyone needs to take seriously in the post-season.  The Cowboys started off well but have entered their annual crash and burn period – a tradition for the entire 21st century – which ordinarily makes me feel just fine except that I do feel bad for my buddy. 

The whole division stinks.  For a while I was convinced that six wins would take the NFC East, but it appears that eight might do it, and nine definitely will.  Yesterday the Eagles got destroyed by a team with three wins, on its third-string quarterback, missing its two best players on offense.  And the Cowboys gagged up a loss to the Packers so transcendently awful that will likely be the hot topic of conversation among the sports knobs on the radio for weeks.

I didn’t actually see much of any of it, to be honest.  They didn’t show the Eagles here in Wisconsin for some reason (I know, right?), and by the time I realized the Packers and Cowboys were on most of the game was over.  Instead, I spent the better part of the afternoon avoiding my grading by taking the girls Christmas shopping and by baking a stack of pizzelles about two feet high.  For those of you who don’t know, pizzelles are Italian cookies.  They’re anise-flavored, and you make them in what is essentially a glorified waffle iron.  My grandmother used to make them for the holidays, and it is a tradition that I enjoy upholding.  Plus the house smells wonderfully when you’re done.

Most of the pizzelles went to today's big Home Campus potluck that we have every semester.

But I did save a few for my NBPE road buddy, because even Cowboy fans should have something nice after a tough loss.

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