It’s half past noon on a Sunday in September.
You rise from a deep tequila-induced slumber, the stale taste of last night’s heaters on the back of your throat. A knee pops, then a shoulder, and all you want is a return to sleep’s delicate embrace. But no. There’s no time to waste. Today is the day, young man.
You mash your skull between the dishes stacked in the sink and attach your lips to the faucet, like a suckling pig to a teat, and yank the valve open, greedily drinking the life-giving nectar.
You lunge for the fridge, praying there’s some Pedialyte left. No such luck. Pickle juice will have to do. In one slug, it’s gone and you wipe the vinegary drips from your chin.
Only twenty minutes, now. No time to eat.
The group text is going OFF. The daily content of this chat would render all of you unemployable for life if it were ever made public, but you won’t be canceled today, as the vulgarities and misogyny have been temporarily set aside for exclamations of child-like anticipation.
We’re back! WE. ARE. FUCKING. BACK!
Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose
I snagged some go-go dust from the lady last night. Saddle up fellas.
Mulligan’s. I’ve got a four-team parlay and Dallas laying 7. See ya in 20.
The weather is mild and out into the sun you go, donning last night’s jeans, your roommate’s Sehorn jersey, and flip flops with socks.
You notice the leaves have begun to crisp and change their color ever so slightly. Not too much, though. Autumn is not yet in full swing, and thank heavens for that.
This year, it must be savored.
Girls are in flannels, leggings, thigh high boots and beanies, showing some bare midriff beneath crop tops emblazoned with logos and numbers they know not the significance of.
Such marvelous, sumptuous beauty. They roam in packs, headed from one bar or pub to another, chanting “YAAAAAAAASSSS” and humming Cardi B under their breath, hoping the soothing tones will attract a suitable, gainfully employed mate.
You smile at them, and they smile back, with over-bleached, Invisaligned teeth, and you feel dizzy for a moment. These Sunday afternoon temptresses, reminiscent of the sinister sirens that tried to pull Odysseus off his course for Ithaca.
Ah, yes. The wild thot; all majesty, magnificence, boardwalk belly button rings and surgical enhancements.
You shake free of the spell and round the next block, finding yourself kitty corner to the most delightful little brunch spot in town, with those vintage, glass-bulbed string lights strung from the edge of the overhang back to the ivy-lined brick of the building.
There, a table of three—two brunettes, and a fiery little redhead. Oh my, how your mind runs wild. Perhaps a Sunday afternoon ménage à trois? Or would that be a ménage à quatre?
Oh, monsieur, you rascal!
You’d love to stop, to send their senses into a frenzy, what with your effortless charm, inimitable wit, and daring double entendres.
You’d catch the red head’s eye, sashay up to the railing of the outdoor dining area, and offer to finish that pitcher of mimosas for them while wiggling those bushy brows of yours.
Ugh! What panache! Such vigor, gusto, liveliness and style! they’d surely think.
You’d drink in their giggles with a grin, then convince them that your company is simply a necessity if they are to extract any sort of satisfaction from this life. You’d snap your fingers, demanding the wait staff retrieve a throne upon which you’d sit.
A King and his concubines.
A champagne and avo toast fueled revelry.
But, no, not today young man. Yes, I know. I apologize profusely. But you couldn’t possibly miss kickoff.
You heard me right.
You see this isn’t just any Sunday. This is the first Sunday of September—
September of 2021
The vaccine has worked, and no, it didn’t contain a mind-bending microchip that compels you to purchase Apple products and Amazon stock.
Covid is long dead and gone. The lockdown has been lifted, the bars are at full capacity and the politicians are back to sleeping with their staff, selling a false promise to college students, raising tolls and ignoring potholes.
And, the 2021 NFL Season kicks off in 7 minutes.
You haven’t been in a crowded pub for a game with the broskis since the Giants blew the number two pick with a win over Washington in week 16 of 2019.
You must go, young man. Go!
The wind is soft and gentle at your back, a subtle push sent from The Elysian Fields to guide you in the direction of your favorite pub, the crew, the cold brews—your destiny.
An activist with a petition pines for your attention as you rush to the promised land. You scoff at the brittle boned hipster and his hot air balloon tattoo. Not today, no. Climate change can wait. You must see the prophecy fulfilled.
You slide through the saloon doors, and they swing back to clap you on the rear end, as you peer over a hundred heads to find the fellas eagerly awaiting your arrival, having saved you the last stool at the bar.
You squeeze through a sea of the vaccinated and immune. There are slaps on the back, careless embraces; the kid who can’t get over that state championship run in 2009 bites you on the shoulder, and Globo Tech’s sales associate of the month winks, as you turn your gaze downward and see an underhanded key bump coming your way.
You decline though. You want to be present for this. To feel it. Absorb it. Be one with the moment.
The pretty bartender—with her pale, peach lip gloss, discount spray tan, and stainless steel bottle opener tucked ever so gently into the sweatband wrapped round her wrist— asks what you’d like.
You imagine taking her out for acai bowls. Her hand would dance its way onto your knee, you might spawn a litter of little Giants fans, and perhaps, Eli’s true successor could be a fruit born of your loins.
Snap back to reality, young man!
You look at the crew and they look back at you. They’ve got a bucket of BLs. But no, this is a momentous occasion. Twelve ounces won’t do it. You ask for a draft and Johnny Finance pulls the Amex out of his Patagonia vest, demanding it go on his tab, then gives you a noogie. The minx tending bar slips away into the heavenly ether near the corner taps.
You glance at the TV, and the camera pans to a healthy Saquon. Your heart skips a beat. Your breath catches in your chest.
Like a celestial deity from the outer edges of space and time, Scott Hanson and his heroic hair appear onscreen next, and the crowd erupts. Glasses shatter, shrieks of ecstasy and glee bounce from wall to wall, people faint and spontaneously defecate. You jostle shoulders with strangers, hug a girl in an Eli jersey you don’t know, and pound the bar top with your fists.
There’s toxic masculinity in the air, and it’s oh so, good.
That pretty barmaid returns, sneaks a wink, and slides you a frosted mug.
Foam drips down your knuckles, the cold beer makes your front teeth ache, and Darius Slayton takes the opening kickoff back to the 35-yard-line.
Joy! Triumph! Jubilation!
Fauci still looks like Henry Gibson, and insists we not shake hands, but we're not listening to that geek anymore.
An enormous couple in their 50s open-mouth kiss near the door, no one is wearing a mask, and a verbose Jets fan in a Yankees fitted hat and double-stud cubic zirconia earrings sneezes on the back of your neck. But you don’t care, do you?
Covid is gone, football has returned, the pub is packed and the chalkboard hanging over the mirror advertises a $7.50 corned beef Rueben special. Extra kraut comes at no charge.
Sweet, peaceful, bliss.
Yes, we’re back. Back indeed.