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Avoiding penalty flag while husband watches football on television [Column]

"Friday night is the Eagles' first pre-season game," Doug announced excitedly. "So you know where I'll be."

"You'll be downstairs in the man-cave, in front of the big TV."

"Right!" he exclaimed, practically patting me on the head in his zeal to provide positive reinforcement and thereby ensure a quality game experience.

Football — even pre-season football — is a sacred rite at our house. Especially Eagles football.

Doug grew up in Delaware, so he had to adopt the Philadelphia Eagles as "his" team. That's what happens when you live in a state with only three counties. (The Eagles are also Doug's favorite singing group; but I think they're different people.)

The quiz continued. "What will I need on Friday night?"

"You'll need Pepsi — lots of it— and chips and salsa, and maybe a sandwich if dinner wasn't filling enough," I responded robotically. "The sandwich should include potato chips on the side and one three-inch dill pickle spear."

This is the 14th football season in a row that I've been asked these questions. I can supply the correct answers in my sleep. There is no need for a refresher course. Doug should know that as his football widow, I am well versed in the rules of football.

I don't mean the rules as in, how many tackles make an out; how many yards equal a home run; what happens when the goalie scores a knock-out; and that you shouldn't get into a shouting match with the umpire (that's the guy who shoots the starter's pistol and can make you sit in the penalty box if you travel with the ball).

I'm familiar with the Rules of Football:

• While the game is on, all questions not pertaining to the immediate health and/or welfare of an individual, human or feline, residing within the confines of the home, can wait until later.

• During game play, no situation in which a Band-Aid and a dab of antibiotic ointment are enough to keep an individual from bleeding out shall be considered an "emergency."

• After the tip-off — or the first serve, I forget which — Doug will not require a comforter, another pillow, his bedroom slippers, a cough drop, or any company watching the game. In other words, anything I might offer in a thinly veiled attempt to get his attention off the game and onto me.

• Once the game is in progress, the link between Doug's eyeballs and the TV screen is not to be breached, even momentarily, by the passage of a body, living or non-living, between said TV screen and said eyeballs. Because that's when someone will make a double play and Doug will miss it.

• Quiche — "And I can not stress this enough," Doug has noted — is not football food. Not. Ever.

Unlike the rules under which gigantic multi-national banks and investment companies operate, these rules are non-negotiable.

I suppose I could resent the whole "football is more important than life itself for several months of the year" attitude.

But I see it as more of a win-win. Because when the game's on, it's easy to slip out, go shopping, and whisk an unlimited number of shoeboxes into the house and upstairs into my closet without Doug noticing.

"Hon, just so I'm clear," I said. "Since you'll be imbibing a great deal of Pepsi on Friday night, will you also be needing a 'trucker's friend'?"

Doug looked at me quizzically. "I have an empty Gatorade bottle you could use," I suggested. "I wouldn't want you to miss a big play because you had to...."

I sure hope he knows I was kidding.

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