Saturday, February 11, 2006

Superbowl Sunday

I celebrated my birthday in the new tradition by breaking the work day for a banana split lunch at Baskin Robbins, stretching the tummy nicely in anticipation of dinner at Jake’s Crawfish where I had half-a-dozen oysters, a salad of smoked rainbow trout, Petrale sole parmesan - washed down with a bottle of Sancerre - followed by half of a chocolate bag filled with white chocolate mousse and berries, drizzled with raspberry coulis, rounded off with a glass of vin santo. I’m not quite sure what the bill came to as Leon and Linda very generously covered everything, but I expect it was no more than half the price one would pay in Brighton, so I don’t feel too guilty. Besides, I’m only thirty-four once.

After the biblical deluge of January, February has been clear and sunny, following the pattern of last year in fact. Then I was naïve enough to believe the winter was over, whereas now I realise this is just a lull in the rain that will proceed through to July 4th, which is when our son is due to arrive (gender determined this week with thanks to the miracle of modern science). I would have been equally happy with a girl (a hermaphrodite would have been a cause for concern, I suppose) but somehow the act of determination has made the whole thing that much more tangible to me; it was all quite abstract even last week, when we were referring to him as ‘it,’ a purely imaginary concept, like Shrodinger’s cat before the box is opened. Anyhow, it would be fitting for him to be born on the fourth of July, like the film, although hopefully he won’t get his legs blown off in ‘nam.

Less abstractly we are all hoping for a safe and uneventful tour for Julie’s husband Ben, who is off to Afghanistan with the Oregon National Guard at the end of the month. The family’s menfolk took him out for drinks last weekend, which was fun, but also sombre, with the shadow of the future hanging over us and not knowing what to say beyond the obvious clichés. We just want him to see him back safe in eighteen month’s time.

This left us a few hours to sober up before breaking out the beers again for that annual festival of bravado and – if you’re me – ennui that is the Superbowl. This year there was some local interest as the Seattle Seahawks were involved. It’s a funny old game, with around twenty minutes of action during sixty minutes of play which are spread out over three and a half hours wherein almost all of the scoring is decided by a veritable army of umpires and miscellaneous officials. The half-time show featured The Rolling Stones, which would probably have been great had this been Superbowl I and the year 1966. Sadly, however this was Superbowl Forty.

Advertising slots during this spectacle (of which there are many) are the most highly coveted in the televisual calendar, allegedly running to $2.5M a pop. It’s commonplace here, if you have no interest in “Football,” to say that you watch the Superbowl for the ads. In fact these are either side-splittingly hilarious or about as amusing as a live beheading on Aljazeera depending on one factor alone: whether or not you are American (although Rachel, Joe and Patricia believe they are eligible for asylum in the UK on these grounds). If there is one thing I miss more than cheese it has to be the British sense of humour, which, interestingly, is shared with Danes.

Still, on the plus side I am going skiing tomorrow.