I guess you would call it a bait-and-switch
My husband and I met on a six-month study abroad program where we had no access to television.
Years later, we dated, married and honeymooned all in the football offseason. So you can imagine my surprise when I woke up that first crisp fall morning of our new married life together and was introduced to "College Game Day.”
Oh, OK. So he likes college football, isn't that nice? It’s wonderful he likes to cheer on and root for our alma mater. Go Cougs!
I had no idea how deep the obsession ran.
My first error was to utter the words, "It's just a game," after an excruciating loss for the home team.
To a true fan, those four words are the harshest in the English language. I was young and foolish and had the audacity to expand on the idea.
“You didn't loose anything. You didn't sweat and bleed on that field. You didn't blow out your knee taking one for the team. You didn't drop the ball,” I said. “They lost, not you. You are taking this way too hard. Let's have a little perspective, huh?"
"You're not a true fan," he whispered after the defeat took all the bravado out of his voice.
I can't help but think, if the reverse were true — if I had some intoxicating, time-consuming, behavior-altering hobby for four months of the year — my husband wouldn't stand for it. Not for one face-painting second.
I've been racking my brain trying to come up with a good comparison, but even at my most obsessed season of "American Idol" watching, the episodes were only an hour long, and I never once texted the word “vote.”
So for argument's sake, let's say there’s a reality TV show all my girlfriends and I are crazy about. It's a four-hour program, and it's on every Saturday August through January.
The excitement and hype couldn't possibly be contained in only one episode each week, so there's a pre-show show that same day, featuring packages on the various participants, stats and ex-contestant's in-depth analysis on what they think will happen on the show. Then, of course, a postgame show, where fans would call in, we would all re-live our favorite moments in slow motion, and the crazies would rant on and on about how horrible the producers are. You get my point?
Now let’s pretend that during this six-plus hour affair, I was not to be disturbed. All my duties as wife and mother were to be suspended until the pre-show show, show and post-shows were all over. Not only that, but all other conversations and concerns would have to stay on hold until I could rehash the pre-show, show and post-shows with my mother and sister over the phone. This could take several more hours because I have free night and weekend minutes.
Now let's pretend that depending on the outcome of the show (who got voted off,) my entire mood and outlook on life would be altered. If the person I was vying for (a complete stranger in real life, mind you) was booted off the show, I would become ornery and depressed over the next 24 hours at the very least.
Such penitence and contrition would be an outward reflection of my true devotion to the show. If my favorite contestant stayed on, my joy and elation would be at a decibel so loud and jubilant, it would frighten my own children.
Online websites dedicated to the mania would give me my weekday fix. I would spend countless hours Monday through Friday educating myself on what the weekend held in store. These websites would also make me feel better about my own addiction because some of the women who post are even more zealous than I am.
I haven't even gotten to the money part yet.
What if I needed to own several fan club T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts? Now consider the cost of tickets, snacks and gas while traveling to the different locations where the show was being taped. My hobby would need to be allotted its own piece on our budget’s pie chart.
I ask you, would my husband, my wonderful, pragmatic, productive, hard-working husband, stand for such a crazy hobby, one that left the family out in the cold? Or I could tell him he could watch it with me, but then, who would take care of crying children, change the diapers, do the laundry and the dishes? Get my point?
No. My no-nonsense, straight-arrow husband would not stand for such a silly hobby. He would refuse to compete with it. The TV would be gone. The cable would be cut and the credit card rescinded. No “show” would take his wife away from him.
But there is no six-plus hour reality TV show for women that's on every week, season after season and year after year. Instead, there's just one multi-billion dollar Saturday-sucking conglomerate out there, and it wears pads, helmets and very tight pants.
How do they do it? What makes the allure so powerful? Maybe I'm missing something. Maybe these husbands are seeing something I'm not.
After all, 10 million "true fans" can't be wrong.
You can read more by Margaret Anderson on her blog Jams and Pickles.