Opinion

Chili And Other Super Bowl Party Fouls

I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping for a better Super Bowl Sunday this year. It’s not just that I want my team winning, although I do want that, as last year the Broncos beat my Panthers like a rented mule. Might things have turned out differently had Coach Rivera heeded my counsel (See Sedated Octopus Tackle Technique)? No doubt. Regardless, I know that Super Bowl Sunday will be better than last month’s Conference Championship games. How do I know this? Let’s go back two weeks ago, to a neighborhood party in the Tewksbury home. You’ll see that I’m not here to curse the darkness. I’m here to light a candle.

Speaking of lighting a candle, you know what’s not cool? When Tewksbury yells across his kitchen as you’re making your way to the water closet “that one has sensitive plumbing, so take ‘er easy in there, okay?” Suddenly all eyes turn icily toward me, convinced I’m going in guns hot to cheer for the Browns. I’m not – I’d never do this at a party  – but I have to admit, it’s a pretty devious ploy by Tewksbury on his home court. Now I’m persona non grata to everyone, even my wife. Truth? She’s mad from earlier, when I told my boys to “ask Alexa” for help with their state capitals. Thing is, we don’t own an Amazon Echo. I just wanted to watch them repeatedly yell Alexa, what’s the capital of Arkansas at the French press.

After the bathroom audible things went from bad to worse for me. For when my wife ditched me, so did my beard-spotter. You know, the trusted ally who tells you things like hot queso at six o’clock or really, granola and honey? Her absence proved critical as chili was the main offering laid out by Tewksbury – the same guy who made the plumbing joke – so hardly a coincidence. A dining trifecta of fondue, New England clam chowder and old-timey lollipops would have been worse, but that’s about it. With this fare and no beard-spotter, I’m toast. And yet eat I must, so I give it the old college try.

I never fully understood the adage there’s many a slip between the cup and the lip until I saw the horrified faces that I passed, post-chili, in the Tewksbury kitchen. Especially Gretchen, and who was she to judge? She took the online dating description looking for a mate at face value, only to be traumatized when over dinner her companion stole a size 6 Jimmy Choo pump right off her foot. But Gretchen wasn’t the only guest shooting dagger glares. The chili, all three beans, had found ample purchase in my beard, and everyone was disgusted. I felt like a drenched Sissy Spacek in Carrie, only without her telekinetic powers. I know this because if I had them I’d definitely have used them to inflict groin trauma on Tewksbury.

All I could do now is slink to the back porch, away from the guests where it’s just me and Snacks, the Tewksbury’s sleeping Labradoodle. Was it foreseeable that, lulled by the sound of rain on the roof, I too would doze off? Sure. But should I have anticipated that the moment I racked out, Snacks would spring to life and make a meal out of my beard? Of course not. Jumping groggily to my feet – which incidentally is exactly what you do the instant you realize it’s not Raquel Welch but a crossbreed dog that’s French-kissing you – I spilled the remains of my chili onto Tewksbury’s couch. Score one for the away team: rather than confess I rearranged throw pillows to cover the stain. After all, Snacks caused it.

I’d never seen the look my wife gave me when I, disoriented, staggered back through the kitchen, looking like someone who’d been water-boarded at an area Chi-Chi’s. Remember the gaze in your beloved’s eyes the moment you both just knew it was forever? Well this was nothing like that. This was cold and mercenary, more like life insurance is paid up, dipsh*t, so you best sleep with one eye open. It’s funny because our wedding song was When You Say Nothing at All, and boy was that prescient because I understood every single word she didn’t say. I just kept on walking, through the kitchen, out the Tewksbury’s front door and straight home.

And so we come to the reason for my Super Bowl optimism. I know Sunday will be better for me than the NFL Conference Championships. For there will be no gratuitous bathroom jokes, rogue chili, judgmental Gretchens or lascivious dogs. It’s not that the Tewksburys aren’t having their Super Bowl party. They are. I’m just not invited to it.