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AT HOME WITH A BIG TEN REFEREE

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A SLICE OF OFFSEASON LIFE

[A Big Ten referee, we’ll call him Dan, sits at home with his wife on a quiet January morning. They are reading the newspaper]

DAN: Quiet morning. [sips coffee]

DAN’S WIFE NANCY: Sure is.

[they continue to read in silence]

DAN: [chuckles quietly]

NANCY: [looking over the top of her glasses] What’s that, dear?

DAN: Oh, that Ziggy.

NANCY: [leans in] Honey, that’s a picture of Mitch McConnell. You know you need to wear your glasses.

DAN: [puts on thick glasses, squints] Hm. So it is. Still pretty funny, though.

[the house rattles perceptibly]

DAN: Must be the wind. [flips to weather section] ‘sposed to be windy today?

NANCY: Weatherman didn’t say so.

[they quietly sip coffee for a few more minutes]

DAN: What’s a four letter word for “placement of a ball”?

NANCY: Spot?

DAN: Hm. That’s good.

[Dan gets up, pours another cup of coffee. The sound of a window shattering elsewhere in the house can be heard, but is ignored by both]

NANCY: [sighing] Government’s at it again. Those folks just can’t get anything done, if you ask me.

DAN: Now, let’s not be too pessimistic. It all depends on the angle you view things from. I think if you look at it from my angle, you can see clear forward progress.

[their trash can, which had been sitting out by the curb, can be seen from where they’re sitting as it sails over the house and crashes into the backyard]

NANCY: Weatherman sure missed this wind.

DAN: Well, people make mistakes, no reason to come down too hard on anyone, that’s what I say.

[a faint smell of smoke wafts into the room, as though a fire had been set just outside]

DAN: We should put an exhaust fan in here.

NANCY: In the kitchen? Honey, I don’t know. I just think there are some places fans don’t belong.

DAN: I think a fan can perform its job wherever it is. No reason to get too specific about where the fan is.

[a few more minutes of peaceful calm, punctuated by the occasional distant guttural scream]

NANCY: Hm, Smith’s Bar and Grille on Main closed down.

DAN: Oh, that spot was good.

NANCY: I got food poisoning there and they once served you a burger with a dishwashing glove in it.

DAN: [going back to reading] I thought it was good.

[the entire house begins to tilt slightly, as though it were actually being lifted off its foundations]

[they both ignore it, and grab their coffee mugs nonchalantly as they slide off the now-tilted table. It’s almost as though this were a regular occurrence]

NANCY: Ooh, there’s a home and garden show at the expo center today.

DAN: Heck, let’s go now!

NANCY: Great. Usual route?

DAN: [strapping on helmet and body armor] Through the basement tunnel and out through the storm sewers.

NANCY: [through snorkel] Meet you at the safe point.

DAN: If I don’t make it, I love you.

NANCY: [alarmed] It broke the perimeter. GO.