The Rules

“So have you been following ‘deflate-gate’?” my boyfriend asks J as she is cleaning up the dishes from dinner.

She turns and stares at him as if he has asked her what size jeans she wears. I can see her formulating a response, and it takes her a minute to answer. When she does, her tone is one of authoritative condescension. “P, you might not know this, but this is a ‘football free home.’ We do not talk about football in this house.”

In my head, I am silently cheering her. Really, I have no interest in football; I have never had an interest in football; and since I have single-handedly raised my children, they seem to have no interest in football, either.

“Come on,” he goads her. “Football is the American pastime. You have to have an interest in football.”

She shakes her head. “We don’t do football.”

Just to get her going, he launches into a discussion of some team or other with some coach or other who is supposed to be amazing. Or something. Truly, J is right. We don’t do football.

When she’s heard enough, and she can no longer ignore him by running the water and playing in the suds, she stops him. “If you want to live in this house, you’re going to have to give up football.”

P’s jaw drops in mock shock. “Give up football? Back when I was coaching….” And he starts yet another story about football. She scrubs the skillet just a little harder, no doubt trying not to listen.

“Football. Free. House,” she reminds him when he finishes his story. It was nice of her to let him finish.

“What are you going to do when you go off to college and some nice guy starts talking to you about football and asks you if you want to go to a game?” The hypothetical situation is fabricated to get her to consider the possibilities. “You’re going to have to be able to talk intelligently about football.”

“Not going to happen,” she says, as she rinses the pan in the sink. “We are football free.” She dries the pan, sets it on the stove, and flounces out of the room.

Apparently, we are. Football free.

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