I live in Indianapolis. (Okay, just outside it.) I love this city. I also love the NFL. And, as some of you may have heard, my city is hosting the Super Bowl.
So have I gone downtown to see all the havoc and chaos going on? There’s “The NFL Experience” and concerts and celebrity sightings and all sorts of stuff, and everything’s been done up big and the weather has been great and…
No, I haven’t gone.
Now, for those of you reading who have gone, please understand that I am in no way suggesting that not going is the only logical choice. Instead, I am going to suggest that it is not the right choice for me.
I have a tendency to hope for the best and plan for the worst. A lot of people think that makes me a pessimist, but I really don’t see it that way. I just like to be as prepared as possible for every contingency (which of course can’t happen, but darn it I can try). So I think about what I would do if I were fired, or if I were to receive terrible news about a tragic accident involving a family member, or if I were to witness an assault. I don’t waste tons of time on it — I’m not spending every night lying awake preparing for unlikely scenarios — but I just like to think things through before they happen.
There are some things that sound like they would be really exciting, until I think them through.
For example, strip clubs.
Now, bear with me here. Some of you reading this know me and are very uncomfortable right now, and for that I apologize, but stick with me for a moment.
I have never been to a strip club, and I seriously doubt that I ever will. I briefly considered going to one as a purely educational experience, because I was trying to write a scene in a novel involving a strip club, and I have trouble understanding what kind of guys go to strip clubs, and what kind of people work at strip clubs. I would assume that they’re more or less just like everyone else I know, except with a different view on nudity or sexuality. But of course, I wouldn’t be comfortable trying to interview them, and I have no idea if they would be comfortable talking to me anyway. (I never did write that scene, and probably won’t.)
If you consider strip clubs purely objectively, they’re a place people go to think about sex, either directly or indirectly. The point is eroticism. And, like most guys, I’m a fan of sex, and the idea of looking at naked or mostly naked women is one that is, naturally, tempting. BUT, when I think it through — I would get worked up by women that I would not and could not touch instead of the woman I love, and I would leave feeling frustrated and sort of empty. And, since I know me, I know I’d also leave feeling guilty and ashamed. So, the initial thought: exciting. When I think it through: not so much.
Another thing is Disney. I say this hesitantly, because I’m pretty sure I’m going next year, and I don’t want anyone to think that I’m not looking forward to it. I am. But the expectation is THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH OMG IT’S ALL RIDES AND FOOD AND FUN AND MAGICAL WHIMSICAL CHARACTERS AND HOW WILL I CONTAIN MYSELF?
But I went to Disney when I was nearly 10 years old. I remember a few things — the submarine ride they used to do back then, and some stuff from Busch Gardens (I think) and Sea World (I think), and I vaguely remember a somewhat rocky beach. I remember that it rained and even snowed while we were there. I remember buying a stuffed seal and a stuffed Dale the Chipmunk. I remember listening to The Monkees on a Walkman most of the drive down and most of the drive back. I remember needing to take Dramamine because I got carsick, so I slept on a lot of the ride, too, usually with my sister asleep on my shoulder. But as for Disney itself? I don’t actually remember meeting characters. I barely remember any of the non-submarine rides (I vaguely remember a roller coaster — something about Thunder? — I know I chickened out of Space Mountain; and I remember that Small World took for-freaking-ever). I remember a lot of waiting in line.
Now, I’m not suggesting that the next trip will be like that. If I get to go, I’ll be bringing a one-year-old and going with two young nieces as well, and I imagine I’ll have a very good time — just not the BEST THING EVER I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT THIS moment that you’re supposed to connect with Disney.
So I don’t want to go downtown, in the city I love, celebrating the sport I love. Because I won’t recognize most of the celebrities; I’m highly unlikely to meet the sports figures I admire; if I do meet them, it’s not like I would get to sit with them and talk strategy and history and so forth. It wouldn’t be the fantasy moment of getting invited to sit in the broadcast booth, or getting tickets to the game. It would be finding myself an individual in a sea of people, many of whom really don’t care about anything but the spectacle of it. I listened briefly to the radio today and heard a friend of mine who works in radio talking to people who were downtown — a bunch of half-drunk girls just hoping to see Tim Tebow. Nobody even knew who Trent Dilfer was. And it’s not that I want only hardcore football people to enjoy the festivities, but I know that if I went, I would not be among “my people.” I would just be among people. Having a passion for the game and a love for the city would make no difference at all, and I would leave disappointed that somehow I was missing out on the real experience. But of course, that experience isn’t open to me — I don’t work for the NFL or anything associated with it, and I don’t have the money to buy my way in.
So, no. Although I love football and Indianapolis, I’m not going downtown to see how the Super Bowl has changed my city. I’m glad we have it, but I’m looking forward to the next football event in town — the Combine — when only the football fans are paying attention.