5 p.m. Tuesday: “You want to get together this week?”
“That sounds great! Let’s go see that new movie Friday!”
5 p.m. Friday: “It’s been a long week. Raincheck on the movie?”
“Yeah, I’m wiped out.”
5 p.m. the following Friday:
“Dude, are you asleep? The movie started half an hour ago.”
So, you can imagine my surprise when she called at the last moment on Iron Bowl Saturday, saying she was coming to town to watch the big game with me.
Never mind that it’d been years since we watched a game together. (Yes, we did attend the LSU game a few years ago, but that’s entirely different from watching it on TV, as any fan can tell you.)
Never mind that I’m extremely superstitious and spend most of the games in the bathroom, getting updates through my phone, as I pace back and forth. Don’t laugh; it’s a proven record. It’s only crazy if it doesn’t work, as the commercial says. And it ALWAYS works.
I can’t tell you how many years ago I quit watching football. After my father died, it lost its appeal. I remember the day I stopped being the world’s biggest fan. OK, maybe not the world’s biggest, but certainly following in my dad’s footsteps, as it mattered to him: Alabama had won against Auburn, one of the final times we played them at Legion Field. I picked up the phone to call Daddy to recap the game, realizing he wasn’t there to answer the phone anymore. It was in that moment that I realized I had no one else to share the moment with, not like I had with him, anyways.
So, football took a back seat for a while, until my husband started watching it more and was hooked.
I still can’t watch the games like I used to. I hear guys start talking trash about the players or the game, I tune out. It was funny when my dad did it; it’s annoying when it’s anyone else. It’s just not as much fun getting worked up over nothin’ when Daddy isn’t here. He’d be cussin’, flingin’ stuff at the TV screen if we were losing, then praisin’ Jesus and bowing to the coaches when we’d win. And the refs were always wrong. Always.
Like I said, fun.
So with less than five minutes left in the first quarter of the Iron Bowl, Alabama still not having scored, I made my apologies to my sister, and headed to the bathroom to take yet another one for the team. I tried to have the TV on in the bedroom, amusing my husband and sister at my non-HDTV delayed reaction to plays. I finally gave up watching and kept my trusty phone app updating me as plays were made.
By the third quarter, my back was sore, my butt was numb, and my family was getting tired of getting me refills of drinks because I wouldn’t jinx the team by leaving the bathroom. I finally came out when it appeared my 4-year-old son wasn’t going to let anyone watch the game, and his daddy was about to blow a fuse.
I decided to take them to Target to buy a star for our Christmas tree. I turned off my phone and avoided the electronics department, because I knew it would embarrass the kids if I was yelling at the TV or the refs who couldn’t hear me anyways. We checked out and drove around looking at Christmas lights while they sang to me.
I’ll never forget the moment I drove up to the house. We’d been gone for over an hour. I turned on my phone again, bombarded by notifications of score changes. I didn’t have to look down to know we had lost. The look on my sister’s face told me everything I needed to know.
“I jinxed us by watching the game with you,” she cried.
I’m not sure why Alabama lost the Iron Bowl. Maybe it was just their time. Maybe it was bad luck, maybe it was bad coaching, or maybe it was just the other team’s time to shine. Maybe it’s because I left the sanctity of my bathroom. But, I can say with utmost certainty that I rather enjoyed listening to my kids sing as we drove by light displays, and we have the prettiest star atop our tree that you’d ever see. I’d also rather have seen my sister than to win a ballgame.
Next time, I’ll make sure to invite her with me to the bathroom to watch the game. I’ll even have a fridge installed for drinks, and hire a babysitter.
Misti Howell is an Oxford resident.