The ominous late-summer air along with the crunch of the tell-tale leaves littering the ground signaled it was coming. My chest heaved a heavy sigh knowing that I would not be able to escape its grips. What did I have to offer that could compare with 300 pound men in shoulder pads broadcast in hi-definition? Yes, it is that time of year again, the season of the football widows.
Before marriage, I was familiar with "Monday Night Football." That was a manageable concession I was willing to make. One night a week. Easy. But I've since learned that there are NFL games all day Sunday and on Thursday nights as well. Throw college ball into the mix on Saturdays and the week is completely lost to the testosterone laden frenzy of the gridiron.
Perhaps if I had a favorite team, I would also succumb to the madness and hibernate with my husband in the man-cave until the spring thaw. I married into a Patriots family, so they are my adopted team and I actually do root for them. But its more of an after the fact curiosity cheer - 'hey, did our team win?' I can usually tell the answer by his demeanor. Hugs and kisses means a victory. Grunts and sighs signal a loss.
Over the years I have learned to live through this annual cycle of widowhood. I feel fortunate to catch glimpses of my husband during random minutes when a game was not being played, or being reviewed, or being commented upon with predictions for the next game. But in recent years a new type of football has crept into our lives and stolen away even those rare precious minutes when I saw my husband during the fall and winter months: Fantasy Football. (shudder).
Fantasy football is the ultimate nail in the coffin to a sports widow. You can pick your "fantasy" team comprised of various players within the league holding various positions until you have a full team. Points are awarded based on how your player performed in their real game during the week. The teams never stay the same from week to week and you can trade players within your league. And you can play in multiple leagues. Meaning multiple draft days, multiple manager meeting days, and multiple times to trash-talk your opponents within your multiple leagues and multiple excuses to drink beer and hi-five.
To a sports outsider this may seem like total strange behavior but for millions of people fantasy football is a big deal. Some leagues even have cash prizes. Others have crazy dares and penalties for the loosing teams. (Justin Beiber tattoos, anyone?) All I know is that this fantasy life is getting in the way of my real life.
I can't imagine something that I enjoy has a fantasy league where I can actively participate. Fantasy New York fashion week? I'll trade your Vera Wang gown for a Jimmy Choo pump. Fantasy fall TV show line-up where points are awarded for favorite character's phrases. (10 points for a Sheldon Cooper 'Bazinga!'; 20 points for The Mindy Project's 'I do so, look cute in this outfit'; 30 points every time Lena Dunham takes off her shirt in Girls). The possibilities are endless.
Frankly, I am enjoying my real life and not a fantasy one. My husband is usually quite loving, charming, and attentive and come spring I would not trade him for the world. Unless, of course, Bradley Cooper or Denzel Washington return my calls about the fantasy husband swap draft. A girl can dream, right?