The bouncer looked much more chest-appropriate in his Superman T-shirt than I do when I wear mine.
Yes, I own a Superman T-shirt.
The bouncer looked like he could stop a train with one hand while choking Scorn, The Parasite and Mr. Mxyzptlk with the other in his Superman T-shirt. I look like I can reference second-tier villains on my blog when I wear one of mine.
Yes, I own two Superman T-shirts. One has a larger S-shield than the other.
Even though the bouncer wore his shirt as a subtle reminder to the Humboldt Park bar patrons that he could just possibly deflect bullets and I was one letter off from spelling “Mxyzptlk” right on my first try, it didn’t matter. Because I was there to watch sports at a bar for a dudes’ night.
It was Bret who proposed the dudes’ night. All three of us have female roommates, although with Steve, it’s his wife so I don’t know if that counts. But beer, wings and the Super Bowl at the bar where our friend Olaf works seemed like the perfect night out for the boys.
If you put on a movie with ‘splosions, zombies or kung fu, I’m there. Politics, I’m Johnny on the spot. I can down beer like a champ and the ladies seem to like me, as evidenced at least by the one who gave me permission to cut out early from brunch that day. (Hi, Sweetie!)
But in terms of the sports end of manliness, I come up a bit short. Bret and Steve, however, ruthlessly and expertly dissected the game, the players’ histories, the minutiae of strategy and how the psychological momentum of the season ruined the Bears, all using ridiculous terminology that only the biggest of sports geeks would know. Words like “option” and “pass” and “niners.”
So I was generally on the quiet side when the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers (Niners! I just got that!) took to the diamond.
I know enough to follow a game and anyone can appreciate a 108-yard kickoff return, but I did have to Google if I was using “kickoff return” correctly. The game for me was a lot of waiting.
It wasn’t just waiting for the lights to go back on in New Orleans after a blackout delayed the game for 34 minutes. I was waiting for conversational delays.
I went for an opening early in the first quarter when the conversation turned to Clint Eastwood yelling at a chair at the Republican National Convention, but then something exciting happened in the game and we were back on that. The blackout delay brought a long conversation about writing (Bret writes fiction and Steve is a journalist), but then those lights just cracked back on.
So I drank and waited for Olaf to show up. Olaf (real name Dan) is from Romania, so he wouldn’t be able to follow the football men either.
I had a great time, don’t get me wrong. We laughed and told stories and cracked each other the hell up. But that brunch I mentioned? Technically, I had been co-hosting. And I spent a lot of the game trying to think about which one of my three Superman T-shirts the bouncers’ shirt most resembled.
Yes, I used to own three Superman T-shirts. At the same time. I spilled something on the ring neck one about a year ago.
Did I not belong at a dudes’ night? Am I not a dude?
As the night and beers… oh god the beers… continued, the stories started to come out.
While I was at the brunch with exquisite quiche, Bret had been watching “Adventures in Babysitting.” Re-watching “Adventures in Babysitting.” Steve was taking his wife out to a fancy dinner the next night.
We talked politics and novels and beer and good food and explained to Steve the plot of “Idiocracy,” cracking the hell up later when a guy handing out promotional shooters of a hangover cure said “It’s got electrolytes.”
As great as the night was, I kept wondering if maybe I was missing something. Steve and Bret had their encyclopedic knowledge of all sports. I have a general fondness for baseball and a picture of Superman hanging on my bedroom wall.
I like Superman, OK?
But maybe I was missing out on something, a last great communal experience to share. My sports knowledge isn’t as lacking as this story jokes, although all the Superman stuff is true. So I’m going to become a sports guy, learn up on that. Take the portion of my brain locked up on Ditko and replace it with Ditka. Trade my X-Men for a T-Formation.
Hockey’s back, so that’s as good a time as any to start. Go Pistons!