Watching this game will also help me relate to my clients who came to therapy last week with “12” inked on their cheeks, with nails painted blue and green, and wearing all kinds of Seahawk accessories: hats, hoodies, and green and blue tennis shoes. The gals got decked out too!
As a novice 12th man who doesn’t own a television I had to figure out where to watch the game. I tuned in to FOX SPORTS on my lap top but the screen was too dinky. I made a bee line to the nearest big screen I knew of, the El Nopal Mexican Restaurant two miles south of my house. The sign out front said it all, “Superbowl Party Here.” I rarely hang out in taverns but this game was a priority!
I arrived an hour early, ordered a Corona and veggie burrito ($11.00), and staked my claim to a front row seat. The images on the high def television were mesmerizing. Flat screen TVs always make this sixty-one year old feel like throwing his glasses away.
As time for the coin toss drew closer the place filled with all manner of enthusiastic fans. They wore tiny footballs with flashing LED lights, festooned their hair with blue and green streamers spiked with goop, and to honor Washington and Colorado’s lax dope laws, a dozen guys toked up a storm in the parking lot. I have an aversion to all things flashy, goopy, and frenetic, so I ignored the building hysteria behind me and focused on the sixty inch screen before me.
Apparently the waitresses did not think this pregame fervor was enough. They whipped the crowd into a frenzy by cranking up the music—I had to lip-read Kurt Russell introducing the teams. They popped balloons with prize tokens inside—I won a football key chain and a whistle. And they invited the crowd to write our name on a dollar bill and put it in a brown paper bag. At the end of each quarter they’d remove a dollar and the winner would collect all the money. I purposely misspelled my name on my dollar bill to throw off the feds in their pursuit of citizens who deface money.
Those earnest waitresses were like Youth Pastors with ADHD and I was the hapless high school freshman. Pandemonium reigned.
At three-thirty sharp the owners thankfully turned down the music and turned up the volume on the television. After Joe Namath flipped the coin a second time—he misfired the first time—the game was afoot.
In 2008 Seattle Sonics moved to Oklahoma, the Seahawks lost the Superbowl in 2005, and the Mariners have never played in a World Series. Sports fans in the Pacific Northwest suffer not only from vitamin D deficiency; they suffer from sports angst. I was rooting for the Hawks as a matter of public mental health.
I’m no expert but I thought we were off to a pretty good start when the Broncos gave us two points with a poorly timed hike. I then ordered a large Margarita ($7.00) and settled in to watch the game of a life time.
Post game commentators have dissected this game in detail but what they can’t tell you is was what went on inside the El Nopal Mexican Restaurant. By the end of the first quarter we were ahead 5 to 0 and a perky waitress pulled a random dollar out of the brown paper bag and shouted my name. I was stunned. She walked to my table and dumped a bag of ones on me like Gatorade on a winning coach. Easiest thirty dollars I ever received. I found my dollar with Erik spelled “Eric” and put it back in the bag for the next drawing.
During the second quarter Bronco fumbles grew and so did Seahawk points. While I innocently nursed my Margarita everybody else’s bar tab grew. The Sangria flowed like, well, it flowed like wine. The eager beaver waitresses made their rounds taking orders and offering each of us Jell-o shots. I’d never had a Jell-o shot before and after three I acquired a taste for green and blue Jell-o I never knew I had.
By the end of the second quarter I was ready to see my very first Superbowl half time show. I thought the Pepsi preliminary warm up clip with giant hands plunking the cables of the Brooklyn Bridge, maneuvering subway trains like sound board knobs, and twisting the stadium like a volume control was totally awesome!
But before Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers even started I was interrupted when the perky waitress called my name a second time. I was speechless when she dumped a bag of ones on me again. This time I counted twenty dollars. My front pocket was filling up! I found my dollar with the misspelled name and put it back in the bag again. Fifty dollars minus the eleven dollar beer and burrito and seven dollar Margarita put me thirty-two dollars in the black. The Hawks were hot and so was I!
Before I could figure out which singer was Bruno and which was a Chili Pepper a woman I’d never met before squeezed into my booth, sat on my lap, put her arms around me, kissed my cheek, and asked, “Where’s your flashing football?”
I adopted a deer in the headlights look and stammered, “Uh…….”
She unpinned one of those footballs with the LED lights from her jersey, pinned it on my shirt, and said, “I’ve just flashed you! Buy me a drink!”
You know how people say their life flashes before their eyes before a near death experience? What flashed through my mind in that moment was the words of Howie Mandel whom I just watched that morning as he explained the OCD revulsion he felt as a kid when his shoe laces touched the contaminated floor. I’m sure that woman meant no harm but for one brief second I felt a connection with all my OCD clients horrified at imaginary impurities.
In my most eloquent voice I stammered again, “Uh.…….”
She realized I wasn’t going to buy her a drink and so she hugged me and wandered off.
I still don’t know what Bruno Mars looks like.
The third quarter began and, I am not making this up, a second woman wobbled toward my table and said, “Hey, you’re rich! Buy me a drink.”
I don’t get out much. My world is defined by second hand book stores, churches, and hanging out with sober men. I have no way of knowing if this kind of behavior is normal. In disbelief I stammered a third time, “Uh……..”
She staggered off leaving me utterly stupefied.
As the Seahawks kept racking up points the frenetic crowd went wild. Interestingly, the loudest audience members were the women. They shouted smack at Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, danced in the aisles—a movement I’ve since learned is called twerking, and kept the waitresses busy ordering all manner of exotic drinks. I suspect the guys were quiet because they were stoned.
When Percy Harvin ran the length of the field for a touch down I got out of my seat and cheered. I was careful, however, not to make eye contact with anyone and quickly returned to my seat and put my head down hoping to be left alone.
When it became evident the Lombari trophy was ours the little El Nopal Mexican Restaurant went berserk. Women, two of whom I clearly recognized, took the offense and rushed, ran, and dashed down the narrow aisles high fiving everyone, hugging and kissing all the men. I hunkered down hoping to avoid bodily contact with anyone.
Sadly, with no ref to call off sides a woman I hadn’t met yet got past my defense, bent over my table, grabbed my neck, put her mouth in my right ear, and let out a blood curdling scream. I am as happy as anyone for this win but felt that scream was entirely unnecessary.
Mercifully, I did not win the bag of dollars after the third or fourth quarters. Who knows what kind of trouble I’d have gotten into if I had.
Final score: Seahawks, 43. Broncos, 8. Erik, 32, three pieces of Seahawk bling, and a ringing in his ears that hasn’t quit.