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My wife’s from Pittsburgh…but…I’m a New Yorker!

And I root for the underdog in about any contest…yet, the Pittsburgh Steelers were the authentic and original reason I started following the United States version of the sport titled “football”. You can only appreciate a sport if you understand it. Isn’t that the case with anything under the sun and beyond the stars? American football is a rush and a break. A break and then a rush. It’s got mad action and the stuff of soulful drama. It makes us bold and strong…and humbles us. The main event’s commercials are the best. No doubt about it. Victoria’s Secret, Hyundai, Doritos, Coke, Budweiser and GoDaddy.com have made fabulous contributions. But, let’s get back to the game: Watching a quarterback make a successful throw, the cause of which results in having a receiver complete an immaculate catch at the end-zone is the stuff of what dreams want to become…does it get better than this? Of course, but it feels darn awesome when your team does it!

The New York Jets, who practice in Long Island, and for games share a stadium with another New York team in The Garden State, have come farthest than any other team in American football history, by this amateur writer/spectator’s inexperienced eyes. Beating Eli Manning’s brother one week and the metrosexual Brady the week after, re-deeming themselves and beating the odds – masters of hope, leaving behind the cinders when no-one gave them a chance... I guess it’s too bad last Sunday’s game wasn’t the Super Bowl, but it could have been for the spirit of some. Yes, it was really spectacular.

But it ain’t over, is it? Two more successful games and the New York Jets can bring the Vince Lombardi trophy to Gotham. It’s almost too much to think that far. Especially when you still have another team that wants this victory just as much: The Pittsburgh Steelers. There’s a team with more soul than other teams. I may be biased, but that’s a team that has real heart. Not to say anything lackluster about the Pats or the Colts, but playing the Steelers in Iron City, in a play-off game, is I think, a harder challenge than playing Mr. Brady in New England. I only say it because Pittsburgh is really a football town. Really! Those terrible towels are the stuff of real Terror for anyone who’s not Black and Gold.

New York Jets, you are underdogs and I am with you. It’s a good thing my wife is forgiving, as is her family, who revealed to me the passion of the game. She’s a Pittsburgher, and with many rights to. After all, if it wasn’t for the Steelers, she may not be here. Her parents’ first date was at Three Rivers Stadium. Steeler blood runs really black and gold in Steel Country. It is one of the city’s many prides, perhaps the most stark of all. How/Why do you think the city’s team has won 6 Super Bowls? 

Gang Green has a real uphill battle…but, I am a New Yorker, and darn proud to be so, and I really love it when David defeats Goliath! This is my adopted country and I’m making the best in the Empire State. Can you hear Sinatra and Jay-Z in my voice…and don’t you forget Billy Joel…! Heather accurately said that I am a lover of the local, the present being where my heart is, and my heart is with you, who bring me passion and take my taxes: Gotham.

Make no mistake though: Should the Steelers win, they better win the Super Bowl, as that is the team that introduced me to American Football.

But for now, I’m in a New York state of Mind…

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Reflections

It’s cold, football

IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

Yes, it’s cold. It’s winter. Get over it.

Or am I so heartless? This is the deal. I am privileged. Mostly, because I am loved. My fiancée's sister knitted me a hat for X-mass. It must have taken her months to do it. It’s made of angora and wool. She knitted it! With her own hands and knitting needles. Some people are so talented and some of those make us fortunate by wearing their creations. What a hat, so full of comfort. It’s so warm. It’s a double also. You can wear it two ways, the one with the shine of angora fabric, the other with the wool. It is so warm. I look like a Bedouin when I wear it in conjunction with the fleece ski mask. The people look at me as I walk down the street. They look at me like I’m a fashionable ninja, since I wear it with my black wool coat and black pants, not that I have to wear black pants, but black is the color I’ve to wear to work.

It doesn’t matter. I am warm. I am loved, and that’s privilege, the kind I’m proud to have.

Thank you S—, for that warm hat.

 

BIRD SEMI-FINAL…OR FINAL?

You’d think our football is trying to tell something to our feathered friends. Is it in our consciousness? I doubt it. People are mostly thinking it’s going to be a Pennsylvania Super-Bowl. Eagles are in, most of the bets say and though there are some doubts, some think Joe Cool’s good but not mighty enough to beat Big Ben, that’s not even talking No. 2 defense v No. 1 defense -- what wins championships again? What about those Cardinals? Just because it’s not a bird of prey doesn’t mean it could strike lethally. What about them Ravens? But, folks around the country don’t think this could be a Bird Super-Bowl. That all depends on the Steelers. Will they beat all the birds? It’s only up to the heirs of those who carry the three diamonds on their helmet to beat the flying teams, whether they be Ravens, Eagles, or oh my god, Cardinals! Whichever way you look at it, there’s going to be at least one bird in the Super-Bowl.

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Reflections

Two Thanksgiving Shorts

MY BROTHER FORGETS HIS ID --

Yes, he did. He forgot it. He left his wallet at his girlfriend’s dorm room. He had to take a flight the next day from Syracuse, NY to go to Pittsburgh, PA. His itinerary included a layover stop in Detroit, MI. But now, he was stuck in Oswego, NY, scrambling in his thoughts, wondering what excuse he could give the security personnel at the airport for not having required ID. He did not have a driver’s license. It was at his girlfriend’s dorm room in Cortland, NY. He did not have his passport. It was expired and in the hands of his mother, in Levittown, NY. He did not have anything else official. All he had was a Stafford loan letter, his social security card, high school and college id cards. None of those were in the “acceptable” id category at the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) website.

In his Facebook status update, he wrote “Alex is FUCKEDDDDDD.”

He realized that he did not have his wallet after he took the bus that drove him from Cortland to Oswego – this was a week before his flight. He called his girlfriend and asked what happened to the wallet. She said she mailed it to his dorm room. How, he asked her? By mail, she texted back. “Pkg?” he texted. She typed what deciphered to “just left it in the mail room at school.”  He did not want to call his brother or mother. He hoped for the post-office to bring that wallet package any hour now. But it was Monday night and the flight was Tuesday morning. He lost hair each time he thought what could happen. He would miss his flight in the worst case scenario, but then what could he do? He could take the bus instead. But with what money? It was all in the wallet he left at his girlfriend’s. He could go back to Oswego, but they would be closing the school for Thanksgiving break. He could take a ride with his buddy that lived in Long Island; at least he could go to Long Island. But his friends had already left. Just like he wrote on his Facebook updates, he was. He called the Continental airlines department. The lady on the other end of the line said, “You’ll be okay. Just make sure to bring your school ID.” Apparently, a SUNY (State University of New York) ID was as good as State ID, which was as good as an acceptable form of ID to enter into a plane. Good. He could sleep now. But he’d have to wake up early. He’d have to take the 9AM bus to arrive in Syracuse by 10AM. The flight was scheduled to depart at 11AM. He might not make it. He’d have to find another bus, an earlier one. Who could he call? The internet was the answer. There was an earlier bus, at 8AM. Good. The morning came. He took the bus. It dropped him at the Syracuse transportation center. He called his brother from there to ask how to get to the airport. His brother asked, “Why don’t you take a shuttle bus to the airport from the Trans-center?”

“Because there’s none,” he said.

“Then take a cab.”

“I can’t. Just tell me which is the route to take. My paper is wet. It’s raining here. What’s the highway route?—”

He took highway route I-81. He didn’t just take it. He walked it, the 7 miles, in the rain. There was no cab fare because that was in the wallet, which was stuck in the mail room in Cortland, NY.

He got to the airport twenty minutes before the flight. No problem with IDs. But it was too late to board the flight, but since it was overbooked to begin with, they scheduled him on the next flight, which took him to LaGuardia, just twenty minutes from where his brother lived, and then another flight took him to the final destination of Pittsburgh, PA, where he’d join his family and his brother’s fiancée's family for Thanksgiving.

He never forgot his wallet at any girl’s dorm again. He carries it currently in his pants.

 

CAT UNDER A TIN HOOD --

They had no space for another body. All five of them were crammed in a Honda Civic Hybrid, but they had enough comfort for an 8 hour drive, mostly on Interstate 80, going east to New York City from the wilds of Western Pennsylvania—they were also full from plenty of Thanksgiving food. There was no room in the trunk either. They had the mother and youngest son’s shopping bags filled with clothing and shoes from Black Friday. There was so much that they had to take a car-roof-top trunk and it was packed in there too.

Traffic was smooth.

And then, two miles from the George Washington Bridge on I-80, they are stopped by a swarming multitude of cars stopped, bumper-to-bumper, they all moved at less than a mile an hour. The signs prior had predicted a 45 minute delay for those two miles. It’s dark—it’s 8pm but with all these cars and their lights on, it’s a well-lit road.

A kitty is confused. He walks around each car. Now every car is stopped. All three lanes. Nobody wants to crush it with their wheels. Blinkers are put on. “Hey look it’s a kitty” is heard through their closed windows.

The kitty chooses the Honda Civic Hybrid as the best spot to hide in. The five inside are shocked and put on their blinkers too. The driver and his brother come out. They don’t see it. The driver’s fiancée sees the tail. It’s on the front wheel. When the driver comes to see, it’s not there. She says, “Honk so you can scare him.” His mother says, “Let’s go. I don’t care about the damn cat.” She wants to go to her party and leave her bad kids behind—they’re stalling the process caring for kitty. The driver opens the hood. The mother is angered profusely, but even she can’t help feeling the amazement of seeing a cat under her car’s hood.

The fiancée, a confirmed kitty-lover, takes the scratches of a kitty. She saves him from the possible carnage of being cooked by the carburetor or chopped by the fan, etc, et cetera. The driver stops the traffic, as they’re in the far left lane of the four lane highway and set the cat in the grass covered median strip.

The kitty is saved. The driver’s siblings, who are allergic to cats, are relieved.

Before reaching the toll, the fiancée calls 911 to alert the authorities that there’s a kitty a quarter mile from the George Washington Bridge, NJ side. They pay their 8 dollars, welcomed to New York with kitty hero feelings in their hearts, even the mother.

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