Monday, December 22, 2014

At Jones home, it's the Super Bowl of germs

THE SUPER BOWL was on in my house this weekend, but I was the only one who cared.

As you know if you've followed me for any length of time, my family does not watch football. They simply tolerate it. During the regular season, Little Solomon sits next to me and uses me for my nachos. By the end of the first quarter, when his belly is full and his face is smeared with Cheez Whiz, he's usually off to play Halo at the neighbor's.

Eve is the same way, although she pretends to be interested so she can get extra pickles on her game-time hoagie.

LaVeta? She doesn't understand why I spend hours watching grown men trying to kill one another over a ball. But to her credit, she's realized that speaking against football is sacrilege, so she normally goes upstairs to watch old movies while I holler as if the players can actually hear me.

The Super Bowl is no normal game, though. It's a television event that allows us to sit together as a family and enjoy the festivities. Granted, I'm generally the only person on the couch who understands what's going on, but none of that matters to my family. They just want to be entertained, and during this year's Super Bowl, the commercials nearly did the trick.

I mean, who doesn't want to see Laurence Fishburne's Morpheus character singing opera in the back of a Kia? You know, 'cause Kias are so luxurious and all.

And why wouldn't we want to see Ben Kingsley and his fellow English villains touting a Jaguar that the average American can't afford?

Yeah, we love seeing ripped bodybuilders running shirtless down city streets while we're sitting next to our wives eating junk food. I don't know how that makes us feel about GoDaddy, but I know it makes us feel crappy about ourselves.

Thank goodness Budweiser decided to throw us all a bone, and turn our attention back to the stuff that makes us into fat slobs.

By giving us a commercial with a puppy and some Clydesdales, the folks at Bud not only reminded normal guys that it's OK to have a beer belly. They also gave men and women something we could all share. Even for someone like me, who doesn't drink beer, the puppy thing works, because only a monster doesn't love puppies. And whatever else I might be, I'm no monster.

Unfortunately, I'm also not someone who's willing to spend three-plus hours waiting to see the next commercial. My family is that way, too. That's why it didn't take us long to get bored with the ads. Before the first half was over, we all turned our attention back to our first love - food.

Just as we normally do, we had chips and dip, nachos and hoagies, and other assorted goodies. This year, however, there were complications when it came to serving.

For one thing, my kids had what I like to call the "heebie jeebies." That's the thing that happens somewhere between the sniffles and a full-blown cold. If you're a parent like me, you know that a case of the heebie jeebies can go either way. Your kid can wake up in the middle of the night with a fever worthy of a hospital visit, or they can come bounding out of the bedroom at 6 a.m. saying, "Top o' the mornin'," like some happy little leprechaun.

Unfortunately, a kid with the heebie jeebies is more than a danger to themselves. They are a danger to their parents. Because while kids get over illness quickly, due to their youth and resilience, a parent can touch one germ from a kid and feel like they've got the bubonic plague.

For that reason, I considered scrubbing up with an astringent, donning a surgical mask, rubber gloves and booties, and asking LaVeta to hand me the children's snacks using forceps.

"Nacho?"

"Nacho."

"Dip?"

"Dip."

"Suture?"

You get the point. An antiseptic Super Bowl is no Super Bowl at all, so rather than watching the game in a virtual hazmat suit, I decided to serve our junk on individual plates. The kids watched the game with their usual disinterested glee as they consumed all the calories their tummies could handle. That seemed to work out well for them.

If I'm not laid up with the Black Death by the time you read this, I guess it will have worked for me, too.


Solomon Jones is the author of 10 books,including his latest novel, The Dead Man's Wife (Minotaur Books), and the humor collection Daddy's Home: A Memoir of Fatherhood and Laughter. The married father of three has been featured on NPR and CNN, and has written on parenting for Essence and other publications. He created the literacy program Words on the Street. His column appearsTuesdays. More at Solomonjones.com.

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