Béchamel on Super Bowl Sunday? Ten yards for excessive fussiness 9

I’m not much of a football fan but I’m familiar enough with the sport to know it involves a lot of cryptic abbreviations: QB, TD, RBI (OK, that last one doesn’t look right).

Last Sunday, when the biggest football game of the year was being played in New York, my go-to acronym was BFD. While millions of Americans were observing Super Bowl Sunday in countless living rooms and bars across this great nation, I was making a delicate béchamel sauce for the spinach-mushroom lasagna Liz and I would enjoy while watching our favorite soap opera, Downton Abbey.

supabowlI’ve never been into sports, which explains why I was never much of a jock. I did play baseball when I was in grade school. The sad highlight of my career was a game in which we were thrashing the opposing team so soundly that my coach, in a fit of sheer desperation, sent me in to pitch.

Two tosses into my first (and only) inning I beaned the batter and was promptly and permanently benched. Given the strength of my arm, I doubt the kid even knew he had been hit until the ump told him. But that ended my pitching career almost before it got started.

College was no different, unless you count cutting class and Frisbee tossing as sports – in which case, I lettered in both. I did, howeverplay foosball. That career was cut short when, following a game-winning goal and ensuing victory dance, my Birkenstocks got hung up on the shooting rods and I fell off the table. Not only did I spill my beer, I also broke my shooting wrist; that put an end to a career that promised to keep me in Bud (and bud) all the way through grad school.

These days, Liz and I will usually watch at least a few minutes of the game, if for no other reason than to catch the commercials. Of course, no Super Bowl is complete without some group of mouth-breathers getting their collective panties in a knot over a commercial in which something was done (or possibly not done) that profoundly offended them. In this respect, Super Bowl 2014 did not disappoint.

This year, Coca-Cola’s polyglot “America, The Beautiful” had the über-patriots gnashing their teeth and rending their garments because it featured people singing our song in their languages and not in American.

Their beef seemed to be that if you’re going to advertise during our nation’s biggest religious observance, your commercial should be in the language of the first people to land on these shores. Depending on which historian you believe, that’s probably either Chinese or Danish, so I don’t get the heartburn.

In a culture that glorifies sports and gives the side-eye to anyone who doesn’t,  a card-carrying non-fan can’t be faulted for trying to “pass.” However, this can be a minefield, as I found out Sunday.

I was walking the dog when I ran into a neighbor. At one point in our ensuing chat I asked him, as us manly guys are wont to do, who he liked in the Super Bowl.

I fully expected a simple response, like, “Gotta go with Denver” or maybe “Seattle’s looking good,” but what I got was a five-minute deconstruction of each team’s strengths and weaknesses, and no fewer than three scenarios that could send either team home with some seriously ugly jewelry.

I was about to make a break for it when he asked me the question I had been dreading since he launched into his dissertation: “How ’bout you?”


I’m a pretty good bullshitter but I don’t know enough about football to fool a six-year-old, so I went with what I had at hand: “Dude, my béchamel’s not gonna stir itself, and you know how that shit scorches. I gotta go. Catch you later.”


  1. I remember watching – like 35, 40 years ago – a Quentin Crisp biopic called The Naked Civil Servant. In the final scene, the elderly Crisp is walking down a street in foppish Oscar Wilde finery. Some leering, tattooed yobs who’ve been checking him out put down their beer bottles, block his path and surround him. “You’re a poofter, ainya?” one sneers, getting up in his face. Quentin stares the hooligan down for a moment, then flicks the back of his hand against his cheek and pushes him aside with his ivory walking stick. In his best Olivier Shakespeare voice he says, “I’ll have you know, young man, that you are addressing one of the grand old queens of England!” I damn near cried.

    Not sure why that scene came to mind just now, but it was awesome.

  2. Hey did you find your man-parts in that bechamel sauce (whatever that is but I hope to hell it’s some kind of chili)? Big macho guys, violence, crass commercialism, old white 1%’er team owners making a fortune off it- football IS America (but with more rules actually)! And if those people in that commercial can’t sing in American than they go back to Mexico or China or Los Angeles or whatever furin country they came from.

    America (and football) hell yeah!!!

    Oh and next time the need arises just say “it’s gonna come down to who wins the battle upfront and has fewer turnovers” That will pretty much be universally accepted as football savvy.

    • Well, that really makes a lot of sense. I know that anytime I eat turnovers (or any kind of pastry, really, but especially turnovers) I get this huge sugar rush and then I feel like crap for hours. Can’t image playing four innings of football in that condition.

      • I can see this is going to be even more of a challenge than I thought. Skip the turnovers just say :…and hangs onto the ball” .Sometimes I wonder why I even try!

  3. I’ve heard that bones can be broken by vigorous pot-stirring, so be especially careful in your kitchen! It’s been shown that the risk is as great as that associated with Foosball dancing and Swing Set lunging … Certain individuals seem to be more susceptible than others. I hope you are well and not sporting any casts !

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