For as long as I can remember, the men in my family and their friends participate in this male bonding ritual that involves football, food and beer. In Canada we call this the Grey Cup Party.
A few years ago, my parents renovated their basement and my father decided that the space was perfect for a big flat screen television which was delivered in time for the big football weekend. My father spent a few days familiarizing himself with all of the various remotes, satellite boxes and settings prior to the party and knew how everything worked.
The only thing he needed help with was putting the stand together for the enormous flat screen monitor. My brother and his friend were summoned to do this prior to kick off.
I just happened to be there for this big screen kick off with my kids (shockingly, I don’t follow football and find it best to avoid all environments that involve men and chili).
Everything was on schedule and it was minutes to game time so everyone sat down in anticipation, my dad picked up the electronic bible known as the remote, and proudly pressed “on.”
He tried again.
Bad words were heard.
Men of varying ages jumped up trying to figure out what was causing this malfunction.
I called some friends with similar systems asking for amateur advice. I called Videotron asking for expert advice.
Wires were removed from one slot and inserted into another.
Kick off came and went somewhere behind the enormous and still black flat screen.
At this point, my 70 year old dad sat in his recliner and refused to relinquish the remote which he held tightly in his hands.
After unsuccessful attempts by everyone to get the television to turn on, I believe the words “nobody’s touching my fucking remote except me” were uttered.
I believe that’s when I grabbed my six year old daughter and we made our exit.
As we were heading out the front door, cheers were heard from the basement below.
The right wires had been reconnected and all was right in the world of Canadian football again (assuming it was ever right).
My dad is a retired engineer and very much a planner. This year, as always, he decided ahead of time what to buy at Loblaws (or Blah Blahs as my kids used to call it) and made his one yearly trip to a supermarket a couple of days before the party.
Having been asked to bring my kids over at 4pm to help him set up TWO HOURS prior to the big event, I got a call on the way over asking me “how the hell do you tent a lasagna?” I told him to hang on as we were almost there.
When we arrived, I showed my dad how to bend the aluminium foil on the frozen lasagne into a tent to let the steam escape while cooking. My father then handed each grandchild a handwritten note with instructions.
He had plotted this year’s party with as much attention as the winning team plotted its strategies. One of them was a hand drawing of where all the food should be placed on the playing field (aka the table) in the basement. The other was a hand written 15-minute timetable of when things should be placed in the oven, reheated, removed from the refrigerator, etc. leading up to kick off time.
It was hard not to be moved when I picked up my kids at the end of the evening. My 14 year old son was sitting among my brothers and their friends, some that I have known since THEY were 14.
Apparently, this year’s Grey Cup party was a success, a great time was had by all, I have no idea who won (or who played) and I’m pretty sure the referee never let go of his remote.