Saturday, September 3, 2011

Streaks like this happen more than you'd think; Thanksgiving 1980

From 1952 through 1971 in pro football, no game ended with a score of 14-0.

Between 1978 and 1980, there were seven 14-0 games in the NFL. I actually remember watching one of them on TV. In 1980, the Redskins, in the midst of an off year not helped by John Riggins' holdout, were shut out at home by a Seahawks team that would end up 4-12 and give up over 400 points on the year. I didn't remember that Joe Theismann threw 4 interceptions that day, but I remember how shockingly badly the Redskins played as a team in that game. I do remember one of the interceptions, because it was batted in the air by a bunch of different players before a Seahawk came down with it and I thought it was funny. And I remember I was watching it upstairs - but wait, do I have that right? That would have been my baby sister's room by 1980. But the TV was up there for a while. Maybe Mary was still sleeping in Mom and Dad's room at the time of the Skins-Seahawks uglyfest. She would have been six months old then.

I remember Thanksgiving 1980 much more clearly, but not for pleasant reasons (well, it's funny now), and the Seahawks were also involved. I was ten. I woke up latish that morning, maybe 9:30 or 10, and was surprised to find no one downstairs. Not my parents, not my 8-year-old brother, not my baby sister. Very unusual. I was hungry and looked in the cupboard next to the stove where the cereal usually was, but again I was shocked: we had none. I had cereal for breakfast every day - the universe was not right, what would I do? The pantry wasn't promising either, but I did find something I liked: a can of vienna sausages. Six wrapped around one in the middle. Yeah, there we go. Mom usually gives me just two or three, but now I've got the whole can. Victory! Hmm, they have this funny goop on them - they usually don't when Mom serves them to me. Oh well, I guess these are a different kind. The goop I didn't like, but it didn't occur to me to rinse it off. I was a hungry boy and plowed through the sausages in a hurry. Then I settled on the couch to read my new 1980 Stars of the NFL book and fell back asleep for a little while.

I woke up near the end of the first football game, and turned on the TV around the fourth quarter of the Bears vs. the Lions. Walter Payton had an 85-yard TD run called back on a holding penalty, if I remember right. Game went to overtime, and oh my god, the Bears ran the kickoff back, game over! That had never happened before in NFL history. David Williams's claim to fame. Next up was the Cowboys and Seahawks. By this point I was starting to feel sick to my stomach, and I was wondering what the heck was going on - it was Thanksgiving afternoon, and I still hadn't seen anyone come downstairs. Surely there was going to be turkey and all that, right? No one had told me there wasn't. Didn't know what else to do, so I curled up under the covers on the couch and read my book and watched the game while I got sicker. Still no one for a while. The then-mighty Cowboys really laid it on Seattle; hopeless game. I was rooting for Seattle, but after a while just wondered how high the score would go. The final was 51-7, by which time my stomach felt about as good as the Seahawks did.

Finally saw my mom, in her robe, around the time it was getting dark. She got me some Coke and saltines, comfort food for her kiddo's upset tummy (yes, it works really well), and explained the day: both my parents had been bedridden and throwing up all day from a blazingly nasty virus. My brother Brian was similarly miserable and indisposed. Miraculously, my baby sister slept nearly the whole day, and the night following. Mom put on her coat and I put on mine and we got in the car and went to the only place that was open, a small convenience store on highway 301, near the park where my dad played softball. I think we got ham sandwiches or something - I don't think it was turkey, despite the holiday. I felt bad but I was starving and anything to banish the unspeakably foul daylong memory of the vienna sausage, stock included, was welcome. I had liked vienna sausage before that day, but have not eaten it in the thirty-one years since. Sure enough, the sickness everyone else got was hitting me too by this point, and it was a rough night, but I think I got off easier than the rest of the family had. And strangely, some or all of us got sick on a few of the Thanksgivings after that. It was an unfortunate family tradition for a while there.

No comments:

Post a Comment