Football Strategy: Catch Him Napping

ESSAY

November 21, 1993|By Joanne Sherman

There is only one television program I try not to miss. It's called "Northern Exposure" and it airs on Monday nights. There is just one program the other person who lives in this house likes to watch; it's called "Monday Night Football." There is trouble in paradise.

Our marriage has always been one of give and take, and compromise -- his way one time, my way the next three, but that delightful spirit of cooperation goes right out the window once football season commences.

What is it about football, anyhow, that lures the brightest of men from every other interest? One of the arguments I put forth in my weekly attempts to watch "Northern Exposure" is that at least the program has different plots, and there is always at least one, but usually several morals woven through the tapestry of the story. The moral of football is: He who wins gets a bucket of Gatorade poured over his head.

The Monday-night dilemma could be eased somewhat if I taped "Northern Exposure" using the VCR that has rested on top of our television flashing 12:00 p.m. at us since Christmas 1987. But that would mean calling one son home from college, and the other home from the Navy because the machine is so complicated it requires the combined efforts of a fifth-year college student and a first-year pilot to operate. Besides, I don't want to watch "Northern Exposure" on another night. It's a Monday-night kind of show.

On most Mondays, I give in easily, and sometimes even watch a few plays because a football game is one of the rare occasions when my husband sits in front of the television and doesn't machine-gun his way up and down the channels with the remote control. (And I know that goes against his nature, especially during the commercials, but he's afraid if he makes a channel sweep while I'm in the room, I'll discover that not only is "Northern Exposure" opposite the game, but so is "Gone With the Wind," "From Here to Eternity" and "African Queen" -- Monday-night programming obviously designed by out-of-work divorce lawyers.)

I am not at all interested in football and he is not at all thrilled when I watch the game with him, or even when I stay in the same room, because I have a tendency to chatter. There's not supposed to be any talking during the plays or the first three instant replays of a play. Also, not when the players are being interviewed, or when the announcers are interviewing each other. Unfortunately, there's something about the words " . . . and here's a fascinating statistic," or "fourth down and goal" that always make me want to discuss our marriage, our finances or dampness in the basement.

Now here it is, more than halfway through football season, and on Monday nights, we are tuned into the game of the week. And I sit there, real quiet, because I'm basically a pretty nice person, and I learned a long time ago that if I can manage to keep my mouth shut for 10 minutes, my husband falls asleep during the first quarter and I get to watch what I want anyhow. Before I go to bed I switch back to the game, give him a gentle shake and then for the rest of the week, whenever we're at odds, I remind him that he always gets his way on Monday nights. Actually, I guess I like football season.

JOANNE SHERMAN'S last piece for the magazine was on the empty-nest syndrome.

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