I knew it would be bad. I didn’t know it would be this bad. In Chardon, Ohio, there’s red everywhere. It covers my neighbors’ porches. It’s even in grocery stores. People don’t hide the over-pouring of red, red, red. No, they wallow in it. They paint their bodies RED. Folks, I’ve moved to Buckeye country.
But there’s more … There’s orange and brown, like dying leaves falling from trees. Nobody looks good wearing orange and brown. Nobody. Still, there are flags of brown that shiver in the fall breeze. There are orange bumperstickers. You know who to blame: the Cleveland Browns.
As many of you know, I love football. I live for football season, and this year, Jake and I have been overwhelmed by the joy of wearing hoodies and drinking pumpkin beer on Sunday afternoons. In Phoenix, football season never felt quite right, because for most of it, the air outside still burned at 90 degrees. We didn’t have stormy football time; we had sunshine and blue skies–which just ain’t right for football season. It’s just not normal.
I am thrilled to be here in Ohio for autumn and football and Halloween, but let’s just say I have a problem. I’m living in sin in Cleveland, and do you know why?
I’m a fan of the Michigan Wolverines and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Growing up in Toledo, Ohio, this wasn’t a big deal, because Toledo is considered a “grey area.” You’re allowed to be a Wolverine in Toledo, and there isn’t an NFL team in our backyard, so we could choose from any number of affiliations: Lions, Bengals, Steelers, etc. The same does not hold true for Cleveland. Cleveland is scarlet and grey; Cleveland is orange and brown.
My first somewhat disturbing experience occurred prior to this NFL season’s opener. I had on my worn Troy Polamalu jersey and was picking up wings for Jake and me at the local bar when a man told me, “I’m going to sell your kidney.” I was informed by other bar patrons, “You can’t wear that shit around here.” I laughed … and ran back to my car.
Then I noticed that Giant Eagle carries every possible thing you might need in scarlet and grey. Jake made me cry when he put on a Browns cap but finally removed the atrocity when I started seizing on the grocery store floor. True, I have happily embraced my beautiful, friendly new community and my wonderful new friends, but I refuse to embrace the local sports.
This season, I will wear my Michigan Wolverines t-shirt and two Steelers jerseys. I will wave my Terrible Towel. But I’ve decided: I will behave. I’ve been known for trash-talking, but I won’t do it. I can’t. I refuse to start a shit storm, and I’ve been warned not to hang any Michigan gear on the outside of my house unless I want it burnt down.
I am an outsider in my new city. A weirdo. That said, I’ve been a “weirdo” my whole life, so not much has changed. I just need to remember to wear sunglasses at Giant Eagle so I don’t go blind and keep the snide comments to myself. I am in Buckeye country; I will respect that. And on November 28th, depending on how things go, I will hide in my basement for fear of kidney thieves.