Saturday, 11:30 AM. Fred calls.”You sound like a guy in need of male bonding,” he says. “I’m holding a seat for you at Phats. Kickoff is 1:00 PM.”
“I was planning on watching the second half at home” I say.
“You’re in your sister’s basement with a very needy and pregnant wife, rambunctious toddler and schizophrenic dog. How much of that game are you really going to see?”
He has a point. Our house has been under extreme renovation since Thanksgiving, and my sister’s hospitality notwithstanding, the likelihood of watching a game uninterrupted during waking hours is as good as the proverbial screen door on a submarine.
“Seattle is going to make the Saints cry,” Fred says with conviction. “I’ll bet a smoked meat sandwich on it.”
It’s going to be a good time, without doubt, and Phat’s smoked meat is some of the best this side of Montreal. I quickly scan my old school, day-to-a-page day timer and determine I can procrastinate on almost all of it.
I text Fred and tell him I’ll be there.
He texts back his skepticism.
Saturday, 5:15 PM. I pull up to my sister’s to find my wife unloading kid, dog and groceries from her car. “Good timing, Cheech,” she says, giving me the head nod that says please grab this quick before it smashes on the ground. “How was the game?”
“It was unbelievable, actually. Seattle spanked the reigning Super Bowl champs. It had everything you want in playoff football.”
“I’m glad you had fun. That’s it for football this year, isn’t it?” she asks, believing that to be true.
“No, but soon enough,” I reply.
There’s only two seasons in professional sports. NFL Football, and waiting for NFL Football. Life now is more the latter, but no regrets. Maybe my son will show an interest, and my viewership will rise again, with justification.
Monday, 10:15 AM. Ben and I huddle in the back of the Café, recapping with giddy enthusiasm about how little we know about a sport we’ve been playing and watching all our lives. I lost a smoked meat sandwich to Fred. Ben lost a small sum to a large guy with a big stick, believing the favorite Saints would cover 11-1/2 in Seattle, and Indy would cover 3-1/2 over the dysfunctional Jets.
“Why don’t you cover your bets by betting against yourself?” I offer as consolation. “That way you’ll win for sure.”
We talk some more about the Jets, and I bring up Joe Namath’s famous prediction in advance of Super Bowl III that they would beat the favored Colts. Ben reminds me he wasn’t born yet.
“Then you don’t remember Namath making headlines when he wore a mink coat in a Blackglama ad that same year?”
Ben tells me he remembers something about Joe Namath and pantyhose, but that was in the 70’s.
Wednesday, 2:20 PM. I find the stock photo agency in New York that has the rights to the Joe Namath Mink Coat photograph. I’m contemplating buying it and hanging it in the men’s washroom. I ask my sister, a professional photographer, what she thinks.
“If you can get him to autograph it, you may have something.” she says. “But you do risk the wrath of PETA.”
I understand what she’s saying. We’ve worked hard to cultivate our organic, natural, green scene, peace loving corporate persona, and I risk it all on a piece of sports memorabilia that anyone using the urinal in the men’s washroom may or may not get.
In my world, Mink is chocolate. In the real world, Mink is a weasel with clawed feet and a pointy snout. In 1968, it was also a coat worn by a football player. I ask Ben who he’s picking this weekend in the Jets – New England matchup.
“New England to cover,” he says confidently. “No question.”
I immediately call Fred. “Bet you a smoked meat sandwich the Jets win this weekend.”
“I’ll save you a seat,” he says, “Kickoff is at 1PM”
Mink Chocolates Inc.,
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