Soon hormone levels will rise, but this isn't your menopausal mother's hot flashes. Conversations will ruminate on patriots, saints and eagles, but this isn't a history lesson. Rampant high-fiving and trash-talking will dominate and destroy friendships, but this isn't a school yard tiff.
This is college football bowl games and the NFL playoffs.
For those passionate about tight ends and leather balls, this is the penultimate time of the year. For those of us who don't give a flying Falcon about football, however, this is like any other time of the year.
If you're less inclined to spend three hours watching meaty men hustle their spandexed selves back and forth across a measured lawn then you likely have a family member, significant other or dear friend who does care.
She/he/they are so invested, so thrilled, so caught up in the game, that if just this one time you watched it would mean more than a resurrected Vince Lombardi kicking the crud out of Brett Favre.
Fortunately, it doesn't take a sports spectre to make football interesting.
Forget the TV screen, and get into the game off screen. Sunday afternoon, the game is subtle annoyance - to "innocently" frustrate those who have begged your viewership. A head-to-head battle of wills: the annoyer vs. the annoyed.
Sounds easy, but the challenge is to maintain your reputation and dignity while evoking enough gear-grinding naivete that next Sunday you are not invited back.
Lay on the annoyance too thick and you risk getting called for interference, kicked out of the room and labeled as an obnoxious moron.
The goal is to mask your desire to annoy the life out of fanatic viewers as a piqued and authentic interest to learn. Win this game and you win the eternal bye - as in bye-bye football watching.
The repetition of well-timed observations will demoralize your opponent faster than Michael Vick at Soldier Field in January.
Physical cues - reaching for a remote and increasing the volume, wild pointing at the screen or sudden standing - will indicate a great time for you to interject with an observation.
Some suggested techniques to clinch the big win:
- In an assertive tone comment, "Oh, I love the Saints' all black pants. Very sleek, very fancy." This proves you are indeed watching carefully, and if you can accomplish this in a subtle but strong voice that muddles the referee's 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer, more points to you.
- Ask questions that suggest football as a homoerotic sport. When a team is in the huddle or running the wedge ask, "Why are those men holding hands? Is that so they both know which way to run?"
Additionally, any questions that segue into an accompanying narrative will be a pooch kick to your opponent's teeth: "Why is the quarterback wearing a pouch on his waist? Is that a fanny pack? When I was six I had a thing like that. I called it my muffy. It was white fur, and I would wear it in winter with my fancy dresses to keep my hands warm."
- If all else fails, simply comment on the commentary. The other viewers are likely already irritated by it, and you asking why the announcer has to state something as obvious as, "If this team doesn't put points on the board I don't see how they can win," will only underscore their frustration.
- Finally, always refer to the ball as a pigskin.
Follow these techniques, and you'll win the un-invite to every football game that ensues. Now that's worth a congratulatory butt-slap.