Day 22 is much more than day 22. Day 22 is SUPERBOWL SUNDAY. It’s the big game, everybody! The Patriots vs The Falcons. People vs Birds. New England vs Atlanta. North vs South. I can’t decide who to support. I have a friend from Georgia, but I’ve never been there and I’ve been to New England. I go to The Pikey on sunset as I know they’ll have a big screen in the back. But there are only six people in there and none of them want to tell me who they’re supporting. They don’t seem to care. They’re all very downbeat. Why are they even watching? This is the Superbowl, dammit! I weigh my team options. Falcons would eat you if you were chained down. But patriots justify hate and violence with tribalism. So I suppose I have to support the Falcons as a bird would never use an idea to justify an atrocity. They’d just eat your eyes, but they don’t know any better.
I’m good at knowing about sport. I sometimes watch the Barclays FA league finals. I like it when they kick the ball and do the running. Despite this vast expertise, I would have liked to have found someone who knows about this game and could explain the nuance to me so I can properly appreciate it. But I’m on my own. I’ll have to concentrate.
Enter Trevor. He sits next to me just as the game starts. My saviour! He suggests I join him in the happy hour special. He’s also supporting the Falcons, and he’s willing to explain the intricacies of the game to me. Win. He says: “You gotta start with a Pabst and a shot of bourbon for eight bucks. It’s happy hour.” I’ve heard of Pabst Blue Ribbon. It’s what people drink in films before they beat their wife. Well, I broke sober last night and it’s still the weekend. Last night I was the oldest guy dancing in some teenybopper club, before going to Soho House in an attempt to pretend I was in London, leaving my bag there because I was in the sort of state you have to be in before you think it’s a good idea to go to Soho House, and staggering home in the early hours causing the dogs to lose their shit. I am not going to make a habit of this because beer now = nothing to eat in a month. But it’s the Super Bowl.
And I’m surprised by how good a game I find this. There’s some real skill, some real athleticism, some real detail in these plays. And the Falcons quarterback has the same name as the friend of my business partner whose Harley I was hoping to be able to borrow while I was here. So I like him even if the bike didn’t work out. It’s enjoyable, if you have a vague understanding of what’s happening. There’s some artistry in the play. At half time the Falcons are winning comprehensively. Go Falcons etc. I watch Gaga put on a great spectacle in the interval. There’s a lot of money in this event, a lot of expensive adverts. It’s such a clear Falcons win that shortly into the second half Trevor calls it and leaves. “Enjoy watching the Falcons win bro.”
Trevor is replaced by Michelle. She’s a New Yorker. Grizzled. Cigaretteworn. Brilliantly uncaring. She’s in the minority here, rooting for the Patriots – in particular their 40 year old quarterback. “Tom Brady’s got this,” she confides. “He’s like Napoleon. What are you, English? He’s like David Beckham. You watch. He’s got this.” I quietly think she’s backing the wrong horse but she is a one woman Brady appreciation society. And guided by her eye I watch the guy work miracles, as she gleefully cheers louder and louder against the room, which having been so quiet earlier have now all come out in support of the Falcons. She is enjoying educating me about the game and Brady. She shows me cellphone photos of her interviewing him. “I told you, I told you! He’s like, he’s like Napoleon. He’s in control of the whole team. He’s got a fisherman’s mouth. But he’s going to win. This is huge. This is Super Bowl history.”
The Patriots do win, against the odds. This ain’t Waterloo. Everyone is shouting “His knee was down.” at the final touchdown. But it doesn’t seem to affect things. Michelle is ecstatic, screw-you ecstatic, in a very New Yorkian way. Her against the room. Streamers and music. Celebrations.
I like this game a little. I think because beforehand I had no sense of the layers of it. It was just big men jumping on each other. I thank Michelle and leave. I doubt I’m going to turn into a fan, but that was a good final and a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon.