It's that time of year again.
Families become non-existent, church becomes chore, and the only phone calls accepted are from the guys on our fantasy team, but not if they're calling to gloat.
It's our ritual. Our Sunday ritual. It becomes law once again, starting this Sunday when the Cleveland Browns take on the New Orleans Saints at 1:00 p.m. Browns-Fan Standard Time.
It's the return of the routine.
It's there the moment you wake up. Football fans have an internal clock that tells us it's Sunday so we don't oversleep regardless of alarm-and-snooze-button capabilities. Note that it is much easier to crawl out of bed for football on Sunday than for work on Monday.
The Browns' shirt for the day is always picked out as of Saturday night so I don't have to think about it when I first wake up. (I'm a girl, I do think about wardrobe.) I get a shower timed exactly to match the length of time the coffee maker takes to brew a pot's worth. The combination of hot water and caffeine opens the eyes to official awakened status. If Saturday night was a fun night, a long night, or a drunk night (or combination thereof), it may be slow-going, but I'll eventually pull it together. If Saturday night is an easy night, I'm right on target.
If Saturday night's been an insane night, I'll stay home laying half-dead on the couch and watching the game sideways. Otherwise, I run/walk/crawl to Skillet's to meet "the gang" for Part II of the Sunday Ritual. Sometimes your ritual will cross paths with other people's rituals; such is the case with me, Skillet, Georgie, Brother Barry, and Kevin and Michelle. We begin our days separately but converge later as part of one-another's rituals. Note this behaviour often makes it easier to stick with your habit.
Roll call starts at kick-off. As we all know the Browns usually play at one, so I have to be at Skillet's come hell-or-high-water by 1:00 or I'm gonna hear about it. Usually it's Georgie that's late though...part of his ritual.
Because the football-gods will always have it their way, I spend every Sunday around 12:40 p.m. standing in line at Marc's grocery store in Lakewood for something I forgot to buy before that I absolutely need now, right before game-time. Note to self that all the other idiots standing in line are also wearing brown-and-orange and checking their watches. We're all getting pissed because we have to stand in line and the game starts in twenty minutes, but not a damn one of us thinks to come EARLIER to the store so we don't have to wait in line so close to kick off. Note to self that these are the same idiots in brown-and-orange I stood in line and got pissed off with last week. Note to self I am an idiot in brown-and-orange.
I bring food. I bring cigarettes. I bring alcohol.
I bring my Favre jersey to change into at 4:15.
I have all necessary items for Big Breakfast: eggs, bread, blueberry syrup (don't like maple), sausage, bacon, biscuits, sausage gravy (the Bob Evans' kind, we don't screw around). The boys will provide bagged hash browns if I'm too lazy to chop potatoes all morning...
It takes almost the whole first half to cook Big Breakfast because I have to run out to the TV every time the boys make noise, and because Skillet only has two, well...skillets.
But by half time I'm fed and sitting on the spot on the couch with my name on it, not to be removed excepting potty break for the next 8 hours.
I'm always ready for a cup of Joe after a good ol' Browns loss, so I'll get up and make a pot of coffee if I'm capable of getting off the couch. Brother Barry will offer his services as my replacement if not.
We also take that time to check on our fantasy teams, check in with non-existent families and take calls from other Browns fans with game commentary or the need to vent.
Game two is a Packers game for my sake if it's being televised, if not, it's whatever game looks better....we don't stay tuned to blowouts well.
Now, this year, the Great Ritual will have to be adjusted. I don't have cable, so I always had no choice but to stay at Skillet's on Sunday nights to watch the primetime game. I would often stay home on Monday nights and watch that game on ABC. Now, I can come home Sunday night if I have things to do here and still see the game, but then will have to be away from home on Monday nights.
It really is not much of an adjustment, though. You see, Skillet and Georgie and Brother Barry and I are '24'-addicts, and will be together every Monday night beginning in January for the Adventures of Jack Bauer.
And thus begins another "ritual".....
***Readers are encouraged to share their "Sunday rituals", legal or otherwise, in the comments section.