Romy Oltuski | The Dilettante

I feel the need to preface this next adventure with a disclaimer. For those of you who like sports, I wholeheartedly welcome you to the Features section. This is the first step toward realizing that the paper doesn’t actually open right to left and that this isn’t page 16, 11 pages after the Sudoku, but in fact page 3, two pages before it. Mazal Tov! But now I’m about to alienate you right back to page 1 (or 16) because this manual does not cater to people for whom enjoying football consists of simply tuning to ESPN on Sunday afternoons and relishing.

No, this magic formula is designed for those who deem that last instruction utterly cringe−worthy — people like me. People who walk into a room and walk right back out of it when they realize that the topic of conversation involves fantasy leagues. People who get invited to Super Bowl parties and, scared to fall into social oblivion, begrudgingly reply yes, only to cross their fingers in desperate hope of longer commercials, food that doesn’t induce an instantaneous heart attack and anything (ANYTHING!) but more talk of sports in between the actual watching of, screaming about and smelling like sports.

But one cold New York evening, as the playoffs were in full swing, that all changed for me; a dear friend gave me a gift that can turn any football hater into a full−fledged fan. Forget tolerate — come one o’clock, you’ll be grabbing at your remote control so fast you’ll knock the BBQ wings you suddenly find yourself eating right off the living room table. It happened to me, and it’ll happen to you.

This is the story of how I became a football fan.

My friends and I sat down to eat at a lovely restaurant, but the yellow team was beating the green team by a number I wasn’t paying attention to, and so of course half our party’s eyes were glued to the television on the wall. I was slightly annoyed that a perfect evening out, complete with strange New Yorkers ready to be made fun of at nearby tables, had degenerated into this pointless gaping and shouting.

But my friend Becky calmed me with a pat on the shoulder and then went on to change my life with three words: Find. The. Fatty.

Football? More like the best game ever! As our friends screamed like monkeys every time fatty A stole the ball from fatty B, we were busy sizing them up in a competition of our own. Oh, how those fatties ran, and oh, how we found them.

Go ahead. Try it. Husk is of natural advantage to these men, so, if anything, they’d be thrilled to hear the chanting. Sure, I wouldn’t want to share a crowded bus with one of them, particularly given their propensity to sweat, yell obscenities and just keep going should they collide with something rather than accept Newton’s laws for what they are. But when it comes to blocking one guy from doing whatever it is that he’s supposed to be doing in the game, man, their torsos are impenetrable. And I assure you, in every good football game, there’s one fatty that can out−husk them all, right there, just waiting to be found.

Now, the rules of the game are fairly simple, but the execution is anything but. First, you and your playmates need to decide on your scoring method. What counts more — upper−body girth or beautifully rippled thighs? Does height factor in? And running around identically clad, those fatties can be easy to lose in a crowd. This will likely lead to incomprehensible yelling, much resembling the noises coming from your couch mates, who are actually watching the game.

Once you’ve identified a clear winner, there remains the equally difficult task of identifying his counterpart on the other team. Suddenly, players’ bodies are being identified by numbers, the chanting gets louder and, before you know it, you’re blending effortlessly with those other people keeping score.

And voila. Guess who’s hosting the Super Bowl next year?