I’ve seen you before. Once upon a time, in a previous life, I was that guy working a middling retail job on the weekends. I was the 21-year-old in a suit standing with my hands clasped at the waist pretending to give a shit about the seasonal sale going on around me, when in reality all I wanted was to be at a football game with my friends. I was that guy who stared you down and silently searched for any semblance of life, any hint of vigor, all while wordlessly pleading with you to GET OUT NOW.
I would have killed to be in your shoes back then. Weekends to myself, the freedom to do whatever I pleased, the ability to park my ass on a couch for eight straight hours and watch grown men beat the living piss out of each other, one quarter at a time. I wanted your life. Until I saw your face. Until I looked in your eyes.
Here you were in a brand new jersey, a jersey you spent a good amount of money on. This wasn’t an ill-advised purchase you made. No, you thought this out. You had the name of last offseason’s big free agent signing on your back. You knew what you were doing. You had probably pre-ordered that uniform the day we inked Free Agent Moneybags to a contract. You were pumped. You were the first guy on the block to own this replica in your new favorite player’s likeness.
And yet it was gameday and you were here. With me, with your wife. Far away from the actual game, far removed from a couch where you could watch the game on your flat-screen. You looked miserable. Like a zombie, but with less determination. You had no purpose in life, no mission. You shuffled from department to department, dragged by the hand of your female caretaker, like a child wearing one of those monkey backpacks with the leashes.
The zest in your wife’s eyes was unbridled, the enthusiasm for this moment oozing out her pores. She was so thrilled to be here, so thrilled to be around shoes, around clothes, around bargains. And for some godforsaken reason, she wanted you to be this excited, too.
Maybe your wife’s a real bitch and lost all her friends. Maybe she just wanted to spend more quality time with her husband. Maybe she simply never found the appeal of sports, of social gatherings, of, you know, fun. Maybe she’s just evil and wanted to make your life suck. There are so many maybes, yet only one sure thing.
This was supposed to be your day. This was supposed to be your weekend. This we know for sure. Because weekends in the fall, game weekends, were made for people like you and me. You bought that goddamn jersey for a reason. You put that jersey on this morning for a reason. You spent your childhood playing games and pretending to be your gridiron heroes as you ran back and forth across the lawn for a reason. You got a nine-to-five, Monday-through-Friday job for a reason.
Despite all of that, though, you let the senselessness of the woman you legally bound yourself to throw a wrench in your life. You let this woman shit all over your reasons, and for what? Love? This is not love. Love is occasional selflessness, sure. But that look of despair in your eye, that look of emptiness, of agony, that is not a look borne out of occasional sacrifice. That is a look spawned along the one-way street of emasculation, my friend, of having one’s balls cut off. And I know that look because I’ve seen it far too many times.
You can do better than this. You don’t deserve this. You deserve to devour a smorgasbord of helmet-bashing, pad-crunching, hut-hut-hut, blue-42 football. You deserve to watch this NFL RedZone you’ve heard all about, football porn, they say. You deserve to get excited about touchdowns and sit in your underwear while you giggle at stupid commercials in-between game action. You deserve to rekindle your fanaticism for your alma mater’s football program, to rejoin the millions of others who spend Saturdays and Sundays as part of a larger contingency better known as the 12th Man. You deserve to be the guy sharing stories about all the incredibly meaningful nothingness you immersed yourself in for the past 48 hours while standing around the water cooler on Monday.
And your wife, she’ll be okay. She will. She’ll figure it out. She’ll make friends. Friends with vaginas who like to shop, too. Friends who don’t care about sports the way you and I do. Or maybe she’ll suddenly turn cool and start watching games with you, like a normal, awesome woman. I don’t know. We can’t predict what the future holds. But it’s okay to say “no” to her once in a while. These are your weekends, friend. From now until February, you are busy on your off days. Deal with it, lady. Sure, you can help out here and there. Fold some clothes, do some dishes, clean a bathtub, build a fence, entertain a kid or two. But shopping? Really? There’s no excuse for that. There’s no excuse for you being out in public with that jersey on, ignoring the team whose logo adorns your body. YOU CAN DO BETTER! I believe in you. Every man out there believes in you. Heck, even the women who actually like football believe in you. Everyone believes in you.
Man up. Go get your testicles back. This is your weekend, this is your time, this is your moment.