When I was a kid, I used to go to high school football games with my brothers. We’d watch the varsity and dream of one day wearing those uniforms ourselves. As it happened, through hard work and the good fortune of some decent genes I eventually got to play on that very field wearing one of those sacred jerseys. I still remember my number from that epic senior year. I was also lucky enough to play lacrosse for an undefeated team for that same school though on a different field in a different jersey. My lacrosse skills were sufficient for me to go on to play in college, on yet another field wearing yet another jersey.
Ahh, those college days! So many new things to experience, so much partying. Lord I wish I could remember a fraction of the good times.
I do have a few things which I can still recall. One which recently popped into my mind was midnight movies. These were usually stoner flicks for the party-set to stagger into when there weren’t enough good times to be had elsewhere. Movies like Woodstock, Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels and The Harder They Come, starring a young Jimmie Cliff. There was one midnight movie which seemed to play on every campus and always had a bigger crowd than the rest. Its audience was not the usual group of wannabe rastas and Deadheads though. Actually, they might have been, but it was hard to tell, since they were all dressed up.
I’m referring of course, to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. For the record, I’ve never seen the movie. Any one of my regular readers would understand why. A movie where people talk back to the screen and throw crap is just not going to be on my calendar. To this day, anybody in a theater, or anywhere else for that matter, who hits me in the back of the head with a slice of toasted rye is going to have a problem. In any case, the people who went to see RHPS would dress up like characters in the movie, and enjoy what they considered to be some odd form of interactive theater with the celluloid images on the screen.
Those of us who were not into Rocky Horror would wander past the theater wondering what the hell the allure was. One time I took a fleeting interest in it, strictly because of the girl I saw standing on line in the fishnet stockings, heels and corset. My interest quickly faded when I realized it was a guy named Doug from my art history class. It provided an important life lesson – No matter how nice your legs are, a mustache is a deal-breaker.
My friends and I saw those people weekend after weekend. We laughed at what geeks they were. This was a time before geeks had any social standing. Revenge of the Nerds was still years away and geeks were simply not cool. Not even geeks wanted to be geeks. Yet somehow, around 11:30 on those nights, they came out in droves, dressed like hunchbacks, bookworms, and mostly like transvestites.
For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why they did it. They dressed up in costumes for a showing of a movie whose characters could neither see nor appreciate their allegiance. Anyone who wasn’t into Rocky Horror would mock them. I yearned to scream out, “Tim Curry doesn’t care! Shave your legs or put on some pants!”
Fast forward three decades or so to yesterday. My employer started enforcing a new dress code a couple of years ago. Jeans and shorts were banned as were T-shirts with any print on them. I’ve been known to physically exert myself at work. I miss my shorts and T’s much more than I do my Levi’s, even in these frigid days. For the spirit of the upcoming Super Bowl, the powers that be granted us a day of denim, provided we wear football jerseys.
On principle, I take offense at the whole thing. Do we have a dress code or not? Further, people who are not football fans or do no have jerseys are discriminated against. As both my loyal readers will tell you, I live in the Philadelphia area, and as such there has been nothing to get excited about football-wise since Andy Reid waddled out of town and Chip Kelly rolled in – neither one of which has actually translated into a single notch in the win column.
Despite our football challenged locale, the halls were filled with people in jeans and jerseys. Though largely Eagles colors, most of the NFL was represented. Some of the more exotic and/or depressing locales were not in attendance (Seattle and Cleveland). I walked among these people dressed in my standard khakis and polo shirt, wondering why I had no jersey. My fundamental disagreement with administration’s suspending a rule they just instituted notwithstanding, there was some other reason for my attire.
My standard line has always been that as a former athlete, I have been conditioned to wearing my jersey for games and not wearing it otherwise. It was a privilege to have a jersey, it was not for everyday wear. My jersey was part of the uniform I wore for game day, for my job at the time. I couldn’t imagine police officers dressing up as a cop for fun, or painters putting on their speckled overalls to go to church.
As the day rolled on, I started to wonder about the validity of my rationale. I was an athlete before many of these people were even born. Surely by this late date my “game day” logic had lost its luster. Perhaps the only reason I had stuck with it was to give myself a chance to inform people who were thirty years younger than me that I used to play – good God, I’m pathetic!
Somewhere in my day, the Rocky Horror Picture Show crept into my brain. Had the thought of playing dress up for people who didn’t care play a subliminal role in my decision process? I’ve been to a few Eagles games. People in the old 700 level wore their Bill Bergey jerseys and cheered loudly and booed nearly as often. Technically, many of these people were sitting closer to the underside of the jets which were coming in for landings than they were to the players on the field. Their screams of happiness or discontent would never reach the ears of the players over a quarter mile below, no matter how much they wished they would.
Maybe it’s time for me to take the plunge. To go ahead and bite the bullet and admit that my playing days are in no way related to my status as a fan. Maybe it’s time to accept the reality that even though none of the players will likely ever see me wearing it, a jersey would be a nice addition to my admittedly one-dimensional wardobe. Maybe I need to consider getting a jersey before I’m too old to wear jeans.