“I can’t wait to watch the Duke-UNC game this Saturday!” my Duke alum husband said to me. “It’s in Cameron Stadium, 7pm. Yes!”
“We have dinner with Steve and Rachel that night,” I told him.
“What time?” he asked, panic-stricken.
“I would assume around dinner time,” I answered.
“Yeah, that’s not happening,” he said.
“You have to go. They’re driving in from the city. We planned it a month ago.”
“YOU planned it a month ago,” he said. “Who are these people anyway?”
“Rachel is my good friend from college,” I said. “I told you about this. I emailed it to you. And I wrote it on the calendar.”
“I can’t go,” he repeated.
“Just tape the game,” I said.
“Tape the game? The Duke-UNC game? In Cameron? No. I can’t do that. Someone will tell me what happened before I see it.”
“Just don’t read any texts or emails and don’t answer your phone.”
“No. It’s too risky. Two years ago I taped the game and Chris texted “duuude.” It came up on my phone and I happened to glance at it and I knew they lost. I can’t have that happen again.”
“So turn off your phone,” I said.
“No. I’ll hear it somehow. It’ll be on the radio or I’ll overhear someone at the restaurant or they’ll fly a plane banner.”
“For heaven’s sake,” I said. “It’s not even the finals.”
“There are no finals in college basketball,” he said, which I took to, accurately, mean, it never freakin' ends. “I can’t miss it," he continued. "J.J. Redick”* is playing really well lately.”
“He’s always playing really well,” I said.
“Maybe I can leave early,” my husband suggested.
“You’d have to leave before dinner was even served to get back before seven,” I said.
“Maybe dinner will be early. What time are we meeting them?”
“I’m not sure, but I can guarantee we won’t be done with dinner by 6:30! This is ridiculous! Just tape the game.”
“Steve will understand,” he said.
“Really? You really think he’ll understand that you’d rather live vicariously through strangers on the magic talking box in our living room?”
“They’re not strangers,” he said. “They’re my team.”
“I can’t believe this,” I said.
“Fine. I’ll go to dinner,” he told me.
“Thank you,” I said. “As a compromise, I’ll make reservations as early as possible.”
I think I heard a faint, “This is bullshit,” as he walked away.
That Saturday, we arrived at the restaurant at 5 p.m. I was really happy, because we rarely get to see Steve and Rachel. We ordered some wine and appetizers and we were having a nice time. About twenty-five minutes into it, my husband stood up and said, “Well, I’ve gotta go.”
Rachel and Steve looked shocked.
“May I speak to you?” I said.
We went over to the entrance. “What on earth are you doing?” I asked.
“I know Duke is on. And you agreed to come to dinner.”
“Right,” he said. “I came to dinner. And now I’m going to go watch the game.”
“The game isn’t on for another hour and a half! Why are you leaving now?”
“There could be traffic,” he said.
“We walked here!”
“I like to watch the pre-game. And I don’t take chances with Duke-UNC."
“Do you know how embarrassing this is?” I hollered.
About six months later, we went to dinner with my husband’s friends from Colorado. The restaurant was really nice. We had some cocktails and then our food arrived.
I tasted the tomato-bisque. “Mmm, delicious!” I said and stood up. “Well, it’s been lovely. Gotta go. Good bye! Nice to see you again!” I picked up my purse and headed out.
My husband caught up with me. “What are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m leaving. The Bachelorette finale is on.”
“You’re kidding,” he answered.
“I know, right? SO exciting!”
‘No, I mean, you’re kidding that you are leaving dinner with friends because of the stupid Bachelorette.”
“I’m so not kidding,” I said. “Ali is making her choice tonight.”
“Ali! The bachelorette!”
“Just tape it,” he said.
“No. I can’t do that. Someone will tell me what happened before I see it.”
“Just turn off your phone.”
“No. It’s too risky. Last season, I taped The Bachelor finale, and when I got home, Michelle had written “Jake chose Vienna!” on our garage in shaving cream. I was beside myself.”
“I’ll cover your eyes when we walk in.”
“No. I’ll hear it somehow. I’ll overhear someone or it’ll be on the radio or someone will honk it in Morse code on the way home.”
“You don’t even know Morse code!”
“Dot dot dash dot. Dot dot dash.” I told him.
“You’re tragic,” he said.
“No,” I answered. “Tragic is when you spend half your life watching a bunch of grown boys try to throw a ball through a ring like circus dogs.”
“Circus dogs can’t throw three pointers!”
“You know what I mean!”
“Come on!” he argued. "This is totally different! Basketball is about passion! Triumph! Beating the odds! Suspense!”
“So is The Bachelorette. Talk about beating the odds! Do you know how hard it is to get on that show? And the passion! The suspense! Don’t you want to know if Ali chooses sensitive Chris and gets to hold his hammer while he builds houses in the hot Cape Cod sun for the rest of her life? Or will she choose studly Roberto and get to stroke his chest hair and oil his baseball glove** for the rest of her life? How can you not want to know?”
“We made these plans and you’re not going to flake out like this.”
“YOU made these plans,” I said. “Who are these people anyway?”
“They came to our wedding!” he said.
“Oh good. Then they’ll understand the power of love and how important Ali’s choice is tonight.”
“They will not understand.”
“She probably wants to watch it, too,” I said.
“Most people do not want to watch that idiotic show,” he said.
“Tick-tock,” I said. “I gotta hit it if I want to see the pre-show re-show pre-recap!”
“This is unbelievable!”
“Don’t worry. If you guys are still here, I’ll come back when ‘After the Rose’ is done.”
“Do you know how embarrassing this is?” he hollered.
“Yes,” I said. “I have an idea.”
*JJ Redick doesn’t play for Duke anymore, but JJ Redick is what I call any goofy, not uber-tall Duke basketball player that my husband thinks is his alter-ego and he could someday become...
**For the few of you who don’t know about Roberto, he is a baseball player. “Oil his baseball glove” is not a euphemism.