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OUT OF THE CLOSET

Posted by mcm0704 on August 31, 2006 |

I did it! For the first time in my life I read the sports page of the newspaper. “So what’s the big deal,” you might want to ask. “It’s not like you’re blazing new trails here. Some women have been enjoying the latest in sports news for some time now. What took you so long?”

It would be easy to blame my lack of exposure on my husband. In the mornings, he’d rather know where the sports page is than his first cup of coffee. But I have to be real honest here – one can’t be too careful when it comes to lying to the public – it just never entered my mind that I could or should know any more about baseball than the names of the two teams playing for the Series win.

I grew up in an era during which certain distinctions between men and women were clearly defined. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not defending the era or the distinction. Just stating the facts. It was a time when women knew where we were supposed to stand even if we didn’t want to. Especially about sports.

Men were expected to be obsessed with sports. All kinds of sports. They played. They watched. They discussed. They read. They argued. They played some more. And during play-off seasons, they disappeared into black holes with TV screens, bean-dip and beer. Or at least they tried to.

Women, on the other hand, were expected to be obsessed with their husbands’ obsession with sports. Women were supposed to complain about all the hours spent on a field or in front of the television. They were to shake their heads woefully as Frank argued with the guy next door about which team had the best defense in the NFL. And women were NEVER, EVER, to touch the sports page in the newspaper.

It was sort of a twist on the idea that Real Men don’t eat quiche. Real Women don’t read sports.

As a fairly malleable creature at the time, I didn’t fuss about all that. It was kind of fun to share “football widow” stories with my friends, and we could always find something else to do while the guys were whooping it up in front of the TV. But all that changed when we moved to Texas.

Suddenly, I didn’t have those friends to occupy my time on Sunday afternoon, and my husband needed someone to help him yell at the referee. The game just isn’t the same unless there’s another warm body throwing shoes at the screen and loudly suggesting an eye-exam for the idiot who couldn’t recognize pass interference when it jumped off the turf and bit him.

So I started watching football. And then I started liking football. Then I started loving football.
Not any old football, mind you. COWBOY FOOTBALL.

This, of course, was during the era of Superbowls, Roger the Dodger, and Hail Mary passes – what wasn’t there to love?

But I still didn’t read the sports page. And since I’m being perfectly honest here, I can’t come up with a reason why. My husband was at that point, perfectly willing to share. I just automatically handed that section to him every morning and never bothered to pick it up when he was finished.

And I can’t really say that my recent break in tradition was predicated on one significant incident.

The lapse could be partially blamed on a serious case of boredom. I’d read everything else in the paper – even the business section – and one cannot finish breakfast without something to read. Or maybe it was the headline HOW ‘BOUT THEM COWBOYS.

Cowboy Fever has been known to do strange things.

Anyway, I let my eyes wander across a few lines here and there and I said to my dog, “Hey, this is good stuff.”

The stories weren’t beyond my comprehension, as had been insinuated in the past. They weren’t dull, or boring. In fact, they were quite interesting with some of the best writing I’d enjoyed in a long time. I felt like a kid who’d just discovered a new pile of sand.

It was a great, wonderful place to play for a while, and definitely worth going back to. I will, however, be kind to my husband and continue to let him have the shovel and pail first.

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