It was a night like so many others in that I decided to kill some time by shopping with my sister, Abby. I had only been back in Western New York for a few days and was working hard to readjust to the slower pace of a rural town. In such a place, a fantastic way to spend an evening is to go to the nearest Walmart or Target.
Feeling boujee, we chose Target and tooled around the store for quite some time observing a startling array of farmhouse “chic” decor and pseudo-inspirational notebooks. Once we’d grabbed some household items for my sister and coffee beans for me, we made plans to try a “world famous” restaurant in a small, neighboring town. On our way, I began to grow more and more excited by the prospect of eating the macaroni and cheese they were known for and didn’t even consider what type of establishment it was. When we arrived, I was horrified to see that it was a sports bar.
Making matters worse, that night was a Buffalo Bills playoff game, so the restaurant, located less than an hour from Buffalo, was pulsating with energy. This was evident the moment we stepped into the alarmingly eclectic establishment and were greeted by “C’MON RUN THE BALL!” shouted by men in various styles of camouflage apparel. They made these loud comments while perched on the edge of their barstools energetically watching one of the eight TVs in the dining area.
I am not a sports bar type of guy (I know, shocking), so I immediately felt out of place in the restaurant. However, I had come there to try macaroni and cheese, and I wasn’t going to leave without accomplishing that mission. Abby and I were soon seated and did our best to drown out the din of the rowdy patrons nearby while we perused the menu. We quickly placed our order for the “Rodeo Mac ‘n’ Cheese” and settled in for the wait.
After some time spent observing those around us, I wondered if we were going to be attacked (à la the movie Deliverance) for not participating in the unrestrained football viewing style of the other patrons. So, at that moment, I decided to do my best to assimilate into my surroundings. You may be wondering how this Keeping up with the Kardashians-watching, Academy Award-loving guy transformed, so let me break it down into three easy steps:
Step #1: Manspread. At first thought, this may not seem necessary, but you must take up as much room as possible to look the right combination of unenthused and manly. So spread your legs apart as if you are attempting to take up the seats on both sides of you, and slouch in your chair to perfect the look.
Step #2: Become a part of the team. Now that you have assumed the baseline posture exuding an “I don’t care” attitude, it is time to add the other layers. One of the most crucial being to make those around you believe that you are one of them by talking about “our team.” This means shouting things like, “LOOK AT US GO!” and “WE’VE GOT THIS!” as if you are one of the Buffalo Bills instead of a customer in a random Western New York bar. Sure, it seems about as absurd as someone watching Grey’s Anatomy and saying, “Phew! It was tough saving that patient’s life tonight!” but I digress…
Step #3: Make it known that sports are more important than anything else. Waitress trying to get your drink order? Throw beer nuts in her face and angrily motion at the game. Chicken wings arriving at your table? Shove them in your mouth without breaking your gaze with the closest TV. This will be difficult to do because it takes regressing to your pre-manners days, but it must be done if you want to appear like sports are your world.
I did my best to combine all three steps, and I think that I was able to nearly perfect watching football in a sports bar. There is certainly still room for improvement, but, like a high school athlete vying for a letter jacket, I am sure it will come since I have quite a few more practices in my future.