Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pub Wisdom

It is that time of year again. The time of year where Americans sit on the edge of their seats in anticipation of our nation's most cherished holiday -- Super Bowl Sunday. As a Bears fan, which is by definition a sadist, I was fortunate (?) enough to have my team in this year's NFC championship game. Being one with England, however, means some creative thinking on my part will be necessary to watch said game. Not to worry, I (and when I say "I" read, "Jessica") make a call to the local pub, the Clifton, and ask if they'd be willing to show the NFL game this evening. Yes?
Suck it Fox/time difference.
*This is a great tip for those ex-patriots, abroad in England, who want to catch a "big game." You don't have to go out of your way to some dirty bar, just call your local pub and they'll most likely be willing to put it on.

So off to the Clifton for some good pub food and the game. Being a 3:20 E/T kickoff, Jess and I casually stroll in at about 7:50 to get our eat on. The Clifton is a very traditional English pub, that throws around words like 'convivial,' and prides itself on its oak interior, highlighted by oak accents, with just a dash of oak for color. Not surprisingly football, of the European variety, is playing on the telly. We manage to find a cozy seat next to the television and put our order in. A few minutes later, the barkeep switches channels and puts the game on. It is 8 o'clock, so I have to wade through another 20 minutes of Skye TV pregame bullshit.

The 3 inebriated gents sitting next to us...
Gent 1: What's this?
Gent 2: Looks like American football.
Gent 1: I think the Super Bowl is tonight.
Gent 3: You sure? I think they are still in preliminaries.

Perhaps I found it amusing that the word "preliminaries" should sit in place of "playoffs," or perhaps it had something to do with the hard cider I was drinking, but for some reason I heard my usually antisocial self chime in.
"The Super Bowl isn't for another 2 weeks. Tonight's game decides who goes to the championship."

Gents (in unison): AH you're American!

Indeed I am. Indeed I am.

They look up at the screen and back at me. The nearest drunkard then asks, "Who's playing? I see you have the Bears of Chicago, but who is the other team?"

The Bears of Chicago. It were as though I was in Eddie Murphy's, "Coming to America."

"The Green Bay Packers," I calmly informed them.
"The Packers?" One quipped, "You mean Shit Packers!"
They seemed to really get a kick out of that one. I lifted my class slightly to let them know that, while not actually funny, they at least told their joke to a fan of the opposition.
"Ah America," my neighbor continued, "I like America, I really do."
Now, I knew for sure the conversation wouldn't end anytime soon. I felt... a segue coming on.
"I used to work for an American company," Lord Ale informed me, "I like the way they talk. Very... very..." My friend seemed stuck, so I tried to fill in the blank for him.
"Direct?" I guessed.
"You do it too you know. You probably don't even know it," he continued, ignoring me.
Of course I don't know it. I don't know what IT is.
"You speak with a certain effervescence," he finally finished.
For anyone reading this blog, English or American... Please, if you know, tell me what that means.
A few seconds later our appetizer arrived, and before anything else could be said I smeared some pate on a cracker and stuffed it in my mouth.
"You know what I don't like about America?"
Oh man, did I see this coming a mile away.
"You don't vote."
"Well, that is a problem." I responded, with a dryness intended to kill further conversation.
"What would you say if I told you I was a die-hard liberal?" Mr. Drink/Drank/Drunk asked, abruptly shifting gears.
Out of time (the game was starting) and patience, I looked to Jessica, who always has a way of saying the right thing at the right time... except for now. Her confused expression was like looking into a mirror. Finally, however, one of the other cheery men butted in and informed his friend to, and I quote, "Leave them alone."
After a little protesting my friend decided to drown himself in another pint and leave the political discussion for another night.

At the end of the second quarter, Jess and I slipped into another room, replete with comfy chairs and a bigger TV, directly under which sat a large table of Englishmen who were watching the game with utter fascination. I knew this look on their face, it is the same look I get when I watch rugby. I kind of 'get' the general rules, but I'm sure MUCH is lost on this novice viewer.

Male Patron 1: Why don't they just throw the ball every time? They pick up huge amounts.
Male Patron 2: Tactics! You can't just throw it every time! You've got to mix it up!
Male Patron 1: What's that mean "1st and 10"?
Male Patron 2: I think they get a set amount of opportunities to advance the ball.
Male Patron 3: Do they get points for the yards they pick up?
Male Patron 2: I don't think so.
Male Patron 3: Who is this Green Bay team? Where are they from?
Male Patron 2: Florida.


Male Patron 1: This isn't at all like Rugby.

While I greatly enjoyed overhearing this conversation, I was not enjoying the game. The Bears were down to their 3rd string quarterback and STILL hadn't scored (it was the 3rd quarter). Until, finally... a big play! I shook off my reserved- American patina and jumped from my seat in celebration.
The table turned... "You're American."

Fortunately, these guys weren't nearly as drunk as my 'friend' from earlier that evening. In fact, they seemed eager to talk about the game.

MP1: You cheering for Chicago?
Me: Unfortunately... yes.
MP2: They aren't doing so well, tonight. Didn't they used to be good? Who was that guy? The Fridge?

The Fridge! This guy just set the Bears back 25 years!

MP1: Do you know who Crystal Palace is? They are a football team. Er, a 'soccer' team.

I said I knew who they were, although I had no clue. I wanted to tell him that I think I may have once, in my college days, visited a questionable establishment called the "Crystal Palace," but I'm pretty sure none of the ladies in there played soccer.

MP1: Crystal Palace is my club.. and they suck! Your Bears remind me of them.

Ah yes, My Bears of Chicago... in My non-voting America... with our American-sized Refrigerators....