My girlfriend avoids dogs of all kinds. She thinks the big ones are scary, the little ones are stupid, and the hot ones are underachieving sausages. This is fine by me, because I'm no great fan of pets and I'm more of a burger man. I don't reject the entire canine category outright, but I've never intentionally owned a dog and have no plans to, so Emily's dog-bashing has very little impact on my life.
The only time I'm even conscious of it is when I have to defend her character on the dog score. Every week we encounter at least one person who's convinced Em's going to hell with the rest of the dogless heathens, despite all evidence of her compassion and decency. Emily works with cancer patients and aspires to teach teenagers. She's nice to street weirdos. She lets me take over three-quarters of the fridge—which in her ideal world is nothing more than a spotlessly clean yogurt-holder—with vast stores of late-season farmers' market nonsense labeled according to its stage in the pickling process, e.g., "Pickling," "To be pickled," and "How old does zucchini have to be before it just kinda pickles itself?"
Yet because she doesn't care for dogs, some people think she's mean.
I don't care enough about dogs to get too deep into the debate here, but since this is a column about watching sports, I want to address the most overrated aspect of dogdom, which happens to be the most overrated aspect of cheering-for-strangersdom: loyalty.
Ask any beastmaster what's so great about owning a dog, and right away, even before they get to the rapturous hours spent dealing with all the shedding and shitting, they'll tell you that dogs are great because they're always glad to see you, without mentioning that this is because dogs are dependent on their owners for everything.
I realize that all species have evolved to excel at different tasks, and I'm not asking dogs, who are better than people are at, say, barking and chewing shoes, to figure out how to fix Somalia. I recognize and respect their limitations ... to a point.
But dogs can't even use doorknobs or toasters. So OF COURSE they love you. What else are they going to do? Spend their entire lives trapped in one toastless room?
The loyalty demanded by and among sports fans is just as pathetic. Why is a sports fan's character questioned in the rare case that he decides, "Screw it, I'm tired of this team because they're terrible/their uniforms are ugly/their quarterback's never been convicted, but man, that's an awful lot of women who keep making the same allegation over and over again?"
Not to get all family values on you in this safe and profane place, but it strikes me as odd that I know many more men who have switched wives than have switched football teams. And what about all the men who are loyal to their teams yet refuse to acknowledge their children? Those clowns might as well follow soccer.
Sports loyalty is on my mind these days because I regret that I root for the Boston teams, because my fellow fans tend toward the insufferable. As I explained in this column's debut, I cheer for the Patriots because I'm from New England. I have no intention of switching allegiances at this late date, because I don't have the energy. You form your sports bonds as a child, when you have nothing better to think about.
When I was at the formative age, there was no Internet or satellite TV, so it would have been really hard to get into, say, the Seattle teams. Plus I always had absurdly early bedtimes, so I needed to follow an East Coast team. And, of course, cheering against the Patriots would have meant cheering against my dad, which wouldn't have helped the bedtime situation.
Maybe in this era of greater mobility and access to out-of-town information, kids will feel freer to think outside the area code when deciding which teams to follow. If you don't automatically adopt the same team as your immediate peers in childhood, that might make it easier to switch things up down the road if need be. Just stay away from the Cowboys, junior. No one likes a star-f ... ollower.
This week the Patriots are going to beat the Jets, 27 to 13. Emily and I will be watching the game while we eat deviled eggs and drink Bloody Marys. Since New York is my favorite city, I will offer Jets fans the following NYC-themed recipe variations to enjoy whilst they watch that Sanchez kid continue to be awful at football.
For the Bloody Marys
New York is my favorite place to eat and drink, which is why it's my favorite place to be, because I don't have too many other hobbies. One New York food fetish that's threatening to go a little too far, though, is the Sriracha carpet bombing. I like Sriracha but find that it can overwhelm most foods. Not a Bloody Mary, though, so we might as well get this week's brunch juice certified kosher for Brooklyn.
For the Deviled Eggs
There's a classic Onion headline about New Yorkers' sense of self-importance and uniqueness. They think they have the first/only/best version of everything. These people take pride in their rats!
They also think they invented bagels (which I guess they might have done). So let's work some cream cheese into this week's deviled eggs in the Jets' honor. I know the whipped, tubbed stuff is inferior to the brick in most applications, but it's a little easier to work into your egg filling. I kept it simple with equal parts yolk, whipped cream cheese, and sour cream. It was weird and good, just like Jets coach Rex Ryan.