THE PUNDITS, sociologists and shrinks see the Super Bowl as a metaphor for life and death and redemption in the form of a last-second field goal or touchdown pass.
Me, I look at it as more of a football game. Usually a lousy football game, come to think of it. Therefore, if you're watching it on TV, it's a good idea to have a lot of back-up activities planned, such as eating, drinking, poring over swatches for the new sofa, sanding and varnishing that old desk in the basement, that sort of thing.
Unfortunately, every year at this time countless trees are killed and paper wasted on a host of insipid articles about how to throw a gala Super Bowl party.
This article, while no less insipid, takes into account these troubled economic times as well as the war in the Persian Gulf, and recommends a less, um, extravagant get-together, although one that will surely have your friends buzzing for months.
(Note that we are talking about watching the Super Bowl in a home here. The problem with watching it in a bar is, you tend to be surrounded by a lot of noisy, excitable individuals with access to alcohol, many of them seemingly unstable and some of them -- this is the scary part -- personal friends of yours.
(So in the midst of celebrating, for example, a thrilling 55-yard touchdown run -- if such a thing should actually ever occur in a Super Bowl -- you might discover some tipsy jerk spilling beer on your sleeve or burning a cigarette hole in your sweater, your favorite one with the little red reindeer, too.)
The point is, just because your Super Bowl party is low-key doesn't mean it can't be tasteful, at least if you stick to the following sample menu:
* Cocktails: This year, the smart (read: budget-conscious) host or hostess is serving a 1991 Pabst Blue Ribbon, which should be served in the utilitarian and yet not altogether inelegant flip-top can.
Now maybe you're thinking: "Hmmm, Pabst Blue Ribbon . . . are they still in business? Won't my guests snicker?"
Perhaps this interesting statistic will change your mind: $2.79 a six-pack. Don't be alarmed if your guests report a slightly metallic aftertaste; as with all domestic brews, this will largely disappear by the third or fourth beer as your guests' taste buds become more, oh, relaxed.
The empty cans also offer an excellent form of entertainment, should the game get a little slow. There's always one guest willing to demonstrate a particularly creative way of crushing a can against his forehead. Also, each guest can take turns attempting a 10-foot jump shot with the empties into the trash can while everyone counts down in unison: "Three . . . two . . . one . . .!" and then imitates the sound of a buzzer.
* Appetizer: Even in more financially upbeat times, I recommend the Cheetos, those curly orange thingamajigs that taste like . . . well, sort of like cheese, but sort of like . . . like those cotton swabs your dentist sticks in your mouth.
Chock full of enriched corn meal, Cheddar something or other, artificial color, artificial flavor, enzymes and God knows what else, Cheetos definitely stick to your ribs. Best of all is the price: $1.59 for a 7-ounce bag. And let's not hear any whining about salt content. This is one day when all talk of coronary heart disease and high blood pressure is replaced by idle chatter about crossing patterns and excited-though-uninformed speculation about the outside linebacker blitzing.
So grab a fistful out of the bag (no bowls, this isn't Buckingham Palace) and live a little.
* Main course: By halftime, especially if the game is exciting (fat chance), your guests may well be famished, which you'll discern by the way they fight over the crumbs in the Cheetos bag and gnaw on the drapes.
Time to bustle about the kitchen for several minutes before emerging with . . . ta-daa! . . . another bag of Cheetos! Be prepared to hear a lot of good-natured (we think) grumbling and the word "cheapskate" tossed about, in which case you may want to point out that the price of chicken franks has gone through the roof ($1.09 for a package of 10). Besides, who do you look like anyway, Adnan Kashoggi?
* Dessert: Call me a silly romantic, but when I think of topping off a Super Bowl meal, I think of Twinkies, those twin golden mounds of cake surrounding a moist, creamy filling. Think the price on a barrel of crude is falling? Check out the bar code on Twinkies: $2.19 for a family pack of 10. Your guests will also appreciate the surge of sugar that courses through their bloodstreams, jolting their central nervous systems awake and making their hands and feet twitch.
* Coffee. None. Too expensive. If your friends press you on the matter (in which case I'd shop around for new friends), tell them your Mr. Coffee is on the blink and leave it at that. Sure it's a little white lie, and yet in these times of financial uncertainty, certainly an understandable one.
Let's get to the bottom line, then. Total cost of the party: A very reasonable $2.19 per person. With six guests plus you, that works out to . . . let's see, seven times nine, carry the six . . . well, you'll make the mortgage payment, put it that way.
Go Giants! Go Bills!
Just pass the Alka-Seltzer.