Saturday, January 25, 2003

Kissing and Football: Superbowl Memories

Full trailer to debut during Superbowl.

I must have been all of 13, maybe even younger. Never athletic, that winter the youth choir I attended twice a week had brought me some modicum of popularity, albeit in tights on the grounds of Harvard University, where, as part of the annual Christmas Revels pageant, a select few of us sang and sat quietly for a few moments; but mostly we waited in the cavernous church-like hall we used as greenroom for the entire cast, and hosted pretend marriages in the eaves in order to have excuses to kiss lightly our first kisses under the curious eyes of our fidgety matrons and best men.

Incidentally, I was serious about the acting thing as a profession when I didn't know any better. I even had headshots made a few years later; they're too unforgivable to actually post on the site, but here's one that is hilarious, embarrassing, but almost too ridiculous to pass up. I was such an earnest dorky kid. And (the horror! the horror!) it turns out what brushingfelt and mirrorlooked like cool 80s hair turns out to have been a subtle form of mullet. Wish someone had told me sooner.

Although the acting ultimately brought me to museum demonstration and then, through that, to teaching, the theatre bug had me until my junior year of high school, when, as the lead in Ionesco's surrealist anti-Nazi allegory Rhinocerous, I managed to singlehandedly (and to the great suprise of my fellow thespians) pare the play down to about 45 minutes of utter hyper-surreal confusion, filled with portention silences and inter-actor anger, ending in a mangled, inarticluate rant made up on the spot instead of the page-and-a-half long monologue in the original text. Wanna know how to quit acting forever? The secret is to never get around to learning your lines. It helps if you never tell anyone about it until the curtain is about to open, of course.

But we were talking about the superbowl, and a pair of child-style married couples who cuddled under blankets in a basement, watching it and holding hands slick with sweat and pizza grease, not sure how to find excuses to kiss again. We barely knew each other, any of us, but our commitment to couplehood had become bond enough to bring us together with the game as excuse, if not enough to support conversation beyond uncomfortable silence there in front of the TV. A girl whose name I can't remember was my bride and kissmate; not my first choice willowy Thalia of the flowing blondwhite hair, who ended up with the young host of the party, an aquaintance at best, nor the fulfilled not-very-secret desire of the less popular Jill, who I did ultimately date, and got caught in bed with on the night of my bar mitzvah (we did get close, but no, technically I did not become a man for a number of years after that).

I suppose I may indeed have watched more Superbowls earlier than that, and I suppose I must have in the intervening years, but the only other gamewatching experiences I remember are here, in my five years at NMH. Living in a boy's dorm with a deserved reputation for attracting more than its fair share of varsity athletes, the Big Game is a Big Deal: boys do all their studying early in the day to earn a spot on the floor in front of the big screen, the dorm head springs for soda and sometimes trays of wings, and the kid's father who owns a Subways down in Greenfield donates two of those 6' subs, so long they serve 'em on a piece of lumber. Although for the past few years we've had great fun and success in the school's chairless media viewing room with pillows and blankets, tomorrow, as many of the kids are gone for the long weekend with their parents, we plan on doing something slightly smaller in-house with a high-lumen data projector, some borrowed speakers, and an everso hightech sheet-on-the-wall.

As a media teacher, I watch the Superbowl for the spectacle, the mythos, the overscaled grandiose halftime show and the testosterone playing out on the screen and in the boys I live with, but most of all, I watch for the commercials. This year's commercials seem promising; previews are available at, and you can vote for your favorites there during and after the game. In addition to a holy host of movie trailers, look for past heavy-hitters Pepsi and netsavvy Hot Jobs to shine, Chrysler to be boring, Trident to push the funnybone, Reebox and Gatorade to hit up the inner athlete, and, as always, a few suprises. The New York Times also prints a comprehensive scorecard of which advertisers have purchased spots for which quarter, so you can keep track of what's coming and going.

Of course, my first subjectively significant superbowl was on the day of my birth. As my mother tells it, the doctor at my delivery was eager not to miss any of the game; he seemed to appreciate my arrival a half hour before kick-off.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:07 AM |

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