Something We Can Share

By Susan Phillips

I am typing this as I watch my husband, who seems glued to the TV as he watches the New England Patriots take on the Atlanta Falcons. Other than the fact that it is the Super Bowl, why is he so riveted to this? I know historically, he has never been a Patriots fan, but he likes Bill Belichick as their coach and enjoys watching Tom Brady play. He has never been a Falcons fan, so he is pulling for the Patriots by default. As I type, the game appears to be a blowout in favor of the Falcons, but the Patriots are starting to come back. By the time you read this, we’ll know who won.

I’ve never understood the rationale behind watching a game just because it’s on. Not only does he watch it intently, he pretty much refuses to go to Super Bowl parties. Why? Because he doesn’t like to socialize during the game. He wants to watch it. He gets irritated with people standing in front of the screen and talking loud about something he deems as frivolous while he is trying to listen to some pointless point made by the game announcers. What I find even stranger is that he is only mildly interested in the commercials. He actually uses that time to use the bathroom, reload his plate and refresh his beverage. The Super Bowl has become not so super for me over the years.

George and I love going to a couple of Titans games a year, although maybe not for the same reasons. We both like the idea of sitting in the stands, drinking a beer and maybe seeing a friend or two. We also both agree that there’s nothing like being there and celebrating a win. But if they lose, it doesn’t really bother me in the least. George, on the other hand, becomes despondent after a loss. And if a game is close, he sits on the edge of his seat and is oblivious to anything or anyone else (including me) around him.

If we don’t go to the game, George plans the day around whenever the Titans play. Depending on whenever the game is, I don’t plan on him to participate in anything I might want to do.

The same applies for the Tennessee Vols in football. We both met at UT and both got our degrees from there. Like the Titans, I enjoy the occasional trip to Knoxville to watch the Vols play. If they win, great; if they don’t – whatever. But half the reason I cheer for them to win is so my husband won’t be in a funk for the rest of the trip. Also like the Titans, our Saturdays in the fall are planned around whenever UT is playing. I’m embarrassed to even mention how he lobbied for us to change the time for my mother’s funeral, simply because it interfered with the kickoff of the Alabama – Tennessee game. He was overruled.

But I get it when he wants to see teams play when he has an attachment to them, like the Titans and Vols. What I don’t get is how he will spend Thursday nights watching the Jets and Bills play, Friday nights watching two college teams out west that I’ve never heard of – then all day Saturday and Sunday watching obscure teams play and come home after work on Monday to sit and watch the Chargers and Cardinals. What possible interest could he have in games like that. Yet, he will have those games on even if he happens to be doing other things around the house. If there is a game being televised, it must be on in our household.

Thank God that after today, our life will be rid of football for a few months. Now we can enter the part of the year that we both enjoy – Indy car racing.

I don’t pretend to be the avid fan that George is. I didn’t grow up going to races and following the sport for decades. I do remember it being a little odd that George chose to stayed glued to the radio on Memorial Day weekend, during our freshman year in college to listen to the Indy 500. Being on the quarter system, we were always still in school over Memorial Day. While a bunch of us were headed to the pool, George chose to stay in his dorm room to listen to the radio all day. Then, he made me watch the re-broadcast of the race that night. As far as I know, that was probably the first time I ever even watched the Indy 500. I’m not sure I ever did again until we reconnected a few decades later.

Long before he started blogging, George was taking me to races. We started going to the Nashville Indy car races, before he took me and my oldest son Eric to Indy in 2004. What I remembered the most was how much it rained before, during and after that race. I was also overwhelmed by the pageantry that surrounded the event. That was Eric’s first race of any kind. Tony Kanaan led much of that race. For whatever reason, Eric became a fan of Kanaan that day and nothing has changed since. That day also started a streak of Indy 500’s for Eric that has stretched to last year. This year, Eric and I will attend our fourteenth straight Indy 500. As he has grown into adulthood, it is one of the few constants that we still share.

As far as I can remember, George and I attended every Nashville Indy car race and took Eric to most of them. Once George started blogging, we expanded to other races, sometimes taking Eric with us to those also. Last year, George and I attended five races together, while he went to Pocono with our friend Paul Dalbey and without me.

It was a weird feeling knowing he was at a race weekend without me. It wasn’t the first time. I missed the first Indy Grand Prix for work and also an Indy qualifying weekend a few years ago, but other than that we’ve attended races together.

I actually enjoy watching the races on television too. And all of them, not just Indy. Maybe it’s because we’ve gotten to know so many people with IndyCar and even some of the drivers, that I feel connected to this sport. And there are others like us that are sort of on the outside looking in, that we’ve gotten to know and become good friends with, even though we only see each other a few times a year.

There’s no question that George lives and breathes this sport. It’s in his blood and has been for the forty years that I’ve known him. But I love it too. Sometimes, he’ll watch a race from twenty-five years ago. I once thought that was strange, but now I’ll see a few faces that we still see today; like Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Roger Penske or Rick Mears. Now, I even sort of get why he watches those old races.

George and I have a good marriage. We would even if we never went to another race together. But we have completely different interests in so many things. Indy car racing is something we can share.

7 Responses to “Something We Can Share”

  1. Now I think we know why I was still paying attention. Like him or not, never give up on Tom Brady. What a game! Even for someone like me that had no rooting interest, it was a game for the ages. – GP

  2. Yes it was! I thought the Patriots were toast after it was 21 – 0. Though, I knew it was somewhat possible to come back. Some crazy good catches for both teams. Is Brady the best?

  3. Wow. I didn’t realize George and I are so similar. I’m like he is except my passion is Butler University basketball. I also watch old races and rewatch races I went to the weekend before. Fortunate that my significant other will go to an occasional race with me and watches them on tv when I’m at a race

  4. That Patriot comeback was painful to watch, but historic. Now if they just would never win again.

  5. Will Tom Brady retire now after this? Please?

  6. Perhaps Susan can relate to this story:

    At the Super Bowl in Dallas a few years back, Jerry Jone’s Palace was not finished in time for the game. Some fans with expensive seat tickets were relegated to the basement to watch on TV or to standing room only areas. One man who wound up in a standing room only area noticed during the first half that a woman Packer fan had an empty seat next to her for the entire half. Before the second half started, the man walked down and asked her if he could use the empty seat. She said: “Sure. the seat was for my husband, but he died”. The man said: “I am so sorry for your loss. Couldn’t you get a friend or relative to come with you?” “No, she said. They are all at the funeral.”

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