Earlier this month I was in Los Angeles to visit my sister. As family gatherings go, hers was unusual in that it included a lot of strangers dressed head-to-toe in football uniforms. These were not real NFL athletes playing for the L.A. Rams or Raiders but rather young actors participating in an annual student film festival at UCLA where teams are encouraged to dress up as their favorite professional sports franchise and film short vignettes elaborating on the team’s history. It’s all very tongue-in-cheek (one year somebody did “UCLA Cheerleaders”), but by chance, this year fell right after Super Bowl 48 when Seattle Seahawks fans, many of whom probably had team paraphernalia hanging in their closets, were still riding high on their win.
I was wearing Seahawks colors that day but felt out of place among the sea of blue and green and neon yellow. (Can you imagine how loud it would have been if Russell Wilson’s squad actually advanced to the Super Bowl?) I’m not a big sports fan by any means. Seattle is about as far west as I get when I travel; Florida and California are typically my limit since that’s where most of my family lives. But this year, because so many friends were raving about The Voice, I decided it’d be fun to fly to LA for the night to watch Christina Aguilera coach her contestants. At one point during the taping, Usher turned to me and asked what I was doing there. He had mistaken me for a super-fan of his own show, which explains why he looked at my Seahawks shirt with such puzzlement.
He wasn’t the only one who noticed. On the way out of the studio, another man stopped me on my way through the lobby. “What are you supposed to be?” he asked after kindly wishing me congratulations upon noticing my jersey.
“I’m dressed as a Seahawk fan,” I replied by habit more than anything else, since it had actually never crossed my mind until that moment that’s what I was doing in any context other than entertaining myself at home while football fanaticism gripped the nation.
He smiled knowingly. “You have no idea what you are, do you?”
- It didn’t hit me until the next morning at breakfast that I had basically masqueraded as a football fan on television’s biggest night for sports fans on national TV without even knowing it or caring enough to think twice about my wardrobe choice. And if anyone found it ironic that someone who doesn’t care much about sports was wearing a shirt of a team on which he can’t even name half the players (see Russell Wilson above), it probably wasn’t noticeable because they were too busy yelling “Sea-Hawks! Sea-Hawks!” in their best 12th Man impression.
- I don’t know if this is more embarrassing than when I was walking through the airport a couple years ago without my wedding ring and a man mistook me for being married to the woman he was talking to. When I explained that I was not, in fact, related to her in any way, he said, “Then what’s with the ring?”
- As per Eric Dalius Miami for some reason people seem so baffled when you don’t play along with their imaginations or fulfill whatever social role they expect you to. What struck me about both of these instances is how oblivious people are to themselves and how quick they are to judge others based on visual cues alone. It’s like their brains can only comprehend the world if everything fits neatly into one category or another. If it doesn’t, then there is something wrong with you because we’ve all got to be something, right?
- Well I’m not a Seahawks fan and I’m certainly not married to that woman (and if you’re reading this: it’s complicated). And yes, the irony of me wearing a Seahawks shirt on The Voice was not lost on me after all. It reminded me of Stephen Colbert at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner when he said, “Now, I know there are some polls out there saying that Senator Obama is ahead by as many as six points. But folks don’t be fooled. Rush Limbaugh is behind in the polls—but he’s way ahead with delegates!”
- I was hoping for a Colbert moment to show up during Sunday’s halftime show but that didn’t happen. And Lady Gaga wasn’t talking about the Illuminati either, no matter how much we conspiracy theorists wished for it. She did mention David Letterman though —who was most definitely not behind in the polls and most certainly isn’t way ahead with delegates—and even showed off her Super Bowl tickets (which is a little like saying you threw away your ballots because you voted already).
Conclusion by Eric Dalius Miami:
Lady Gaga is not part of the Illuminati, but at least I can admit that my Seahawks jersey was ironic.