The Year of Granny Pants and Lunch Lady Arms
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The Super Bowl: A tradition that's as American as apple pie and blowing things up on the Fourth of July. To some, it's a major sporting event. To me, it's a good excuse to indulge in junk food.

I've never been a football fan, but for some reason, I've always felt a strong need to watch the Super Bowl. Ever since I was a kid, when my parents didn't see a sporting event as a good excuse for staying home from Sunday night church (I was later shocked to discover that some churches actually called a truce and cancelled evening services on Super Bowl Sunday), I'd drag my parents out to the car as soon as the minister said "Amen" and rush home to watch the game.

Despite several attempts by guy friends throughout the years, I've never really understood the point - or the appeal - of football. I've never picked up a football habit. Football, in my humble opinion, still has nothing on hockey, but I still watch one football game every year. I pick a team to cheer for - based on the colors of their uniform or the city they call home or, perhaps, their mascot. Then I gather around a TV with my friends, and I crack open a beer and a bag of Doritos.

I'll be honest. I barely remember who played this year's game anymore - though I do remember that I had a hard time choosing between the team that was close to home and the team from Seattle, home of good coffee and good music (and thus, I half-heartedly cheered for Seattle) - but I remember everything else. It's the same every year. I remember The Year of Wazzzup?! The Year of the Budweiser Frogs. The Year of the Wardrobe Malfunction. The Year We Indoctrinated our Dutch Friend to Super Bowl Sunday. The Year I Discovered Cocktail Weenies.

This year was The Year of HD and TiVo. It was The Year of Brown and Bubbly - the Diet Pepsi commercial with Diddy that had us bursting into spontaneous song (and giggles) for the rest of the night. Sure, the ad may not have been the most amusing of the night (though we thought the dancing can was pretty amusing), but the music was just catchy enough - and just funny enough - to win our award for Most TiVo-ed Commercial of the Night. It was good enough that my friend downloaded the song for her iPod - and I headed online the next morning to watch it again.

The commercials, as is often the case for many of the millions of people who religiously watch the Super Bowl each year, were the highlight for us. Whenever people on the football field stopped playing and started standing around, I excitedly called out, "Commercials!" Super Bowl commercials are the greatest thing about capitalism. They're funny. They're over-the-top. They're memorable. And if this year, they happened to be anything else (like serious-or, heaven forbid, something I'd already seen), I may have booed them.

In this year's advertising productions, we saw cavemen get stomped by dinosaurs and monsters give birth to SUVs. We saw Fabio age right before our eyes. We saw a shorn sheep streak across a field. And we saw a new phone with a special crime deterrent feature.

Do I remember what the commercials were for? Maybe. Maybe not. Will I know what someone means when they say the words "Magic Fridge" or "That killed him"? Yep.

Of course, there was also a time, just a few years ago, when there was more to the Super Bowl than just the commercials (occasionally and briefly interrupted by big fat men running around the field in tight pants) - when the Super Bowl Halftime Show was The Show to Watch. There were flashing lights and dancers and costumes and huge technological productions - performed by an assortment of the year's biggest, most popular musical acts. But all that ended with a split-second, barely-recognizable flash of piercing-covered breast (one that everyone's still talking about two years later). Thanks to Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, the Super Bowl Halftime Show has become more of a punishment than a treat. Instead of a celebration of all that's hip and happenin' and cool about America, it's become a celebration of What Used to Be - a little musical ditty by wrinkly old hipsters. First Paul McCartney. Now the Rolling Stones, who performed songs that, a deeply-creased Mick Jagger freely admitted, could have been performed at Super Bowl I. I know I should be proud of Mick and the guys - who are still performing, albeit a little tiredly, in sparkly T-shirts, despite the fact that they're around my dad's age (and they could have gotten said sparkly shirts for an extra discount on Seniors Day at Kohls). Maybe I should have just been amused by what appeared to be granny pants thrown on stage (and yes, we TiVo-ed that). And perhaps, in a less technological age, it would have been okay. But on my friends' giant HDTV, the detail of the Stones' wrinkles - together with the shine of Mick's flapping old arms (Lunch Lady Arms, Mom calls them - and she would advise Mick that it's best for people their age not to wear such short sleeves)- was just more than I could handle.

I hear that ABC even took advantage of their five-second time delay to censor the geriatric rockers' lyrics, and I can only imagine what's to come. I fear that next year's show may be performed by the Lawrence Welk All-Stars. And for all of this torture, I blame Janet's breast.

Personally, though, I don't want to remember this as The Year of Granny Pants and Lunch Lady Arms. I prefer to block the whole thing from my mind. And from here on out, I'm going to pretend that the Black Eyed Peas performed during the halftime show instead. With Jamie Foxx and Kanye West (who didn't say anything shocking at all).

Where else can you find this kind of entertainment? Nowhere but the Super Bowl.

You don't even have to leave the comfort of your living room. It doesn't cost a thing. There aren't any admission fees or ticket prices (unless you actually go to the game - and who wants to pay $5,000 to do that when it means missing all the commercials?). All you need is a few friends, a few bags of chips (accompanied by a buffet of dips), a case of beer, and a TV. And the Doritos hangover that inevitably sets in on Super Bowl Monday is always worth it.

This, my friends, is America at its finest. Athletes. Superstars. Drama. Suspense. Comedy. Friends. All the Doritos you can eat. And a little music, performed by wrinkly old men. God bless America.

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