My parents, back in the 70s and during the time of the Purple People Eaters, hosted a number of Super Bowl parties.
The Vikings, by the way, have managed to play in quite a few Super Bowls but they have never managed to win one. I expect that the day this happens schools will be closed, a number of things will be saluted, and all debts will be forgiven.
Forty years on, we still wait.
But in the 70s we were young and hopeful, and the Vikings' devastating defensive line was the impetus for many Super Bowl parties. Cheese and sausage platters were artfully arranged, vats of chili made and consumed.
Beer flowed like wine.
And it was to one of these parties that my Aunt Pat and Uncle Mark brought their three kids, the youngest being Eric.
Cousin Eric was, and is, a funny and deadpan person. At the age of four, however, he is primarily inclined toward running small toy cars up and over things.
“Vroom vroom vroom,” Eric runs the little car up and around the TV set, which in accordance with the times, is a large piece of furniture the size of a polished wooden Volvo.
As an aside, this will come as a surprise to some of you younger folk, but during my childhood, there was no remote control for the television, at least not as we know it today. “Remotes” back then were called “children”; and if you wanted to turn the volume in any direction you had only to give the command and the nearest child was required, by unwritten law, to do your bidding.
There was also no such thing as cable – at least not where we were from. It was a horrid, mean existence. Not many of us lived.
The little boy runs the car up and down the sides of the TV, and despite his mother's insistence that he "come away from there, Eric", he repeatedly finds himself unable to comply for long. Sure, he'll step away. Eric isn't a bad boy. But he always returns, his willpower drained by the pull of the feel of four tiny rubber wheels on the piece of furniture that had everyone's attention.
My father, a man not particularly long-suited in patience, takes as much as he can of Eric running that little red car perilously close to the television screen on Super Bowl Sunday and finally asks him, “Eric! How would you like to eat that car?”
Eric comes to a dead stop, gazes off into the distance as he considers this question. Blinking solemnly he says, “I would not like to eat this car. But I would like to lick it.”