Chicken corn chowdah (a Dingle Family fall staple) was on the stove.
Gabe (one day into being a dyed-blonde per tradition because his high school soccer team made the playoffs), Mac, Jack (home from Kentucky for fall break), and my nearly perfect husband were hanging out in front of chips and salsa.
This Sunday started perfectly, with post-college game day recaps and NFL pre-game shows playing in the background. The house was nearly full (all except Sam, who was down in New Orleans and waking up late after he and Olive (his big, upright bass) played a six-hour jazz gig the night before).
Bobble heads were in place, the Pat’s blanket was hanging over a chair… all was well in my world.
And then Tom Brady was intercepted, and a guy dressed in green and white ran the ball in for a touchdown.
According to the announcer, I (he said ‘you’, so I’m assuming he means ‘me’) would have to go back to 2011 to find the last time this happened to Tom Brady.
If I had the fantasticality of a time machine, I would not be using it to go back to 2011 to a football game where Tom Brady gets intercepted and some rat-fink behemoth from the other team runs it in for a touchdown.
Confession: I am a football fan.
Which is kind of wHierd, actually.
I grew up with a women’s liberation movement-oriented mother who did not even blink in the direction of football (Okay, she didn’t blink but she certainly grimaced).
I was brought up on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, and Phyllis. We could watch Little House on the Prairie (most likely because the original stories were written by a woman, and in spite of the fact that ‘Pa’ was the head of the household). Even the soundtrack of my childhood was fairly interesting. There were the Smothers Brothers. And a lot of Elvis. And I remember a funky recording of the story of Cinderella – but it was in spoonerism format, complete with ‘step-sisty uglers’, a ‘bancy fall’ and a ‘prandsome hince’.
But also, and interestingly so, my mother was a big fan of the play, Hair.
Now, it was a fairly popular play and I get that it made sense that she would be interested in seeing it, especially when I overheard her and my Aunt Phyllis talking about the fact that there was a scene where people were naked. And one Christmas morning, my father did the giant box, large box, medium box, small box, teeny box thing and, sure enough, there were tickets to Hair inside!
And, of course, I asked if I was going too. But my mother said that I was too young to go – that it was an adult play.
Some time after they went all went to the play (and I asked all sorts of questions about the nude scene), my mom brought home the album.
And I was probably, like, five.
Far too young to go to the play, sure.
But, apparently, totally old enough to listen to the album.
Over and over again, any time I wanted to.
Remember when I mentioned that the survival rate for kids who grew up in the late ’60s and ’70s was about 40 percent?
That was physical survival.
Emotional survival rates ranged from 17% – 22% depending on the study you read.
So I memorized every single one of the songs on the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Hair.
I still know them.
It started with Aquarius – pretty straight forward, “..moon in seventh house, Jupiter aligns with Mars..”. White bread, Leave it to Beaver’stuff. Innocent.
Then came the songs, Donna, Hashish, Sodomy, Colored Spade…
Well, you’re starting to get the picture.
Now, I’m pretty certain that – when I was singing for my parents, sister, or company – that I probably substituted words I knew for the words that I didn’t know (the ones actually in the song) – like when five-year-old Sam and I were playing Star Wars and he was Han Solo and I was Luke Skywalker and we were in the Millennium Falcon manning the big guns and I said the line, “Hey, Hey! I got one!” and he cautioned with Han’s line, “That’s great kid, go get coffee!” and I said, “What?” and young Sam repeated himself and I thought that, of course, he didn’t know the word ‘cocky’ and so, instead of saying ‘That’s great kid, don’t get cocky”, he instead found it completely reasonable to reward my destruction of one of Darth Vader’s Tie Fighters by sending me out for a hot beverage.
What the heck five year-old me used to substitute for ‘sodomy’, I can’t even guess at.
Okay, maybe ‘broccoli’.
So, for instance, when I was little and sang out the opening word, ‘broccoli’, what followed? Because, you know, the very next word was ‘fellatio’, followed by ‘cunnilingus’ and then “pederasty” (which I just had to look up because, at FORTY EIGHT YEARS OLD, I still didn’t know that one. But I think they needed it because the next line ended with ‘nasty’ and what the heck other word could they pick to rhyme with that?).
But that probably wouldn’t have worked, unless they were eating bacon and cheesy fries while performing the other activities celebrated by the song.
But, sadly, the truth is out there now…
Prior to Spill the Wine’s “Do I Dig that Girl” and Carole King’s “It’s Too Late Baby”, my first very favorite song – from the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Hair – was “Sodomy”.
What was the original topic for this particular column?
So I’m really not certain how I came to love football after a childhood spent with a committed feminist mother and my also-female sister.
I can only think of one thing.
Instead of joining a biker gang, getting a few tats and riding off into the sunset on the back of a Hog with a guy named Ox, I instead fell for a six-foot-three, two hundred and fifty-five pound defensive end named Lyle.
Alzado, that is.
Number 77 of the Los Angeles Raiders.
I’m actually pretty sure that the fact that he was my favorite NFL player – or that I even knew who he was – had a major impact on my dating one John Dingle about a month after Lyle and his Raiders beat a heavily favored Redskins team in the 1984 Super Bowl.
Yep. Lyle Alzado was the bad boy, testosterone-filled, uber villain antithesis of my mother’s feminist-oriented dreams. And he, and football, provided perfect teenage rebellion material.
Of course, to really rebel as a teenager, your parents have to actually know you were rebelling. I was far too much of a chicken for that. So I flew under the radar, and went to school and got good grades and came home on time.
But on Sundays, while my mother read the paper or tucked herself in the back yard with an interesting juxtaposition of works by Henry David Thoreau and Gloria Steinem, I sat inside in our living room with our barely functioning black and white television and watched three-inch tall men with helmets knock each other around the field for a few hours.
While the fading album cover from The Original Broadway Cast Recording of Hair was tucked neatly under the old turntable nearby.
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