College Girls: Bluestockings, Sex Kittens, and Coeds, Then and Now, by Lynn Peril, is full of amusing excerpts from old-school prescriptive literature and magazine columns telling girls how to behave—mostly to succeed in the spheres of popularity and husband hunting. Sort of a pop culture history of women’s education in
I just read a section entitled “‘More Rules Than a Prison’—Football for the Disinterested,” and found it particularly entertaining:
"For disinterested parties, sitting through a game could certainly seem as long as several life sentences. Articles in magazines like Co-ed and Mademoiselle explained the game of football ... to casual spectators who didn’t want to look like fools in front of dates. While spontaneous enjoyment might occur with knowledge of the rules, learning them was usually presented as a mere expedient to keeping one’s date happy.”
Peril’s references in this section are from the 196os, but it took me back a little less far, to my last relationship. In addition to being thankful that girls no longer have to do football homework to prepare for dates, I was thinking how thankful I am that I no longer have to spend Sundays pretending to watch Packer games and apologizing for being more interested in reading a book than discussing how long we will have to wait for Brett Favre to run for President.
But then I kept reading:
“If the game didn’t end the way a boy wanted it to, it was important for a girl to adjust her mood to his—he wouldn’t ‘appreciate [her] high spirits’ while he suffered the agony of defeat. In such situations, it was important to remember that football wasn’t just a game. To think otherwise might mean going dateless until after the play-offs.”
And that took me back even less far, to when Packer fans had high Super Bowl hopes this past season. I watched their last game with one of my best friends at a bar in
But as the game wore on and the Packers played worse and worse, it became apparent that they were going to lose, and I started praying that they would somehow pull it off, not because I like the Packers, but because my friend’s mood started to scare me and because I wanted the party to keep going after the game. But of course they lost. My friend popped out of her chair, threw her arms up, yelled “Where’s the waitress?? We need the check!!!!” and started putting on her jacket. I still had a third of a beer left.
I tried to be understanding of her feelings (even though I seriously just don’t get sports fanaticism), but at the same time tried to lift her spirits and somehow managed to convince her to stay out and go to our favorite bar with me. Because here in the 21st century, that’s what good friendships are all about: compromise. And never going to the bar angry.