To be a woman raised on the lapping waters of Lake Erie is to be charged with a mysterious, sacred role. As mothers of this tribe we are placed at the crossroads of a tumultuous history, our inheritance the responsibilities of safeguarding fresh water for future generations, and nurturing children who must be strong, clever, and gentle enough to weather future coming storms. We must be rooted in daily lives that build networks of health, strength, and power, while creating space for visions of a better future.
All this, and the men we have available to get us pregnant are Browns fans.
I'm not suggesting that pool of men is unfit to be patriarchs for our tribe. Ok, if I'm being real, I don't think they have it together enough to do the patriarch thing, but they can be fathers, at least the ones who haven't cooked their sperm away with laptop heat. To bright side the situation: What better way to train to weather the devastating disappointments of life than being emotionally engaged with the Cleveland Browns? These are men that can convince themselves to keep showing up with exceptionally diminished expectations of reward. That's resilience. Some people may call it foolishness. Potato, Pah-tah-to. However you say it that's mostly what they live on.
So in the gardens of our hearts we also nurture a pack of men who, on the Lord's day, drape themselves in orange and brown, get drunk at sunrise, and are choked with anger by sunset. We wake early Monday morning to the scents of the potatoes, cheddar, sour cream, and processed meat they consumed wafting under our blankets.
But us women are strong with love. We've endured, and created nations, smelling so many worse things over the millennia. These are our men, and although it appears they are engaging in ritualized self-harm on a weekly basis, we can enable them right through it. It's really so much better than a heroin or prostitute habit. Here are my tips for loving your Browns fan.
1) Don't grill him about what he's doing on his phone on Sundays. I know you have visions of the perky, wasted 22-year-olds on West 25th blowing his cell up. But I can assure you, those girls have all lost their phones. What he's doing is tweeting hateful things about Johnny Manziel. Then he's retweeting the hateful things his friends have said about Johnny Manziel. He is also looking at Instagram photos of perky 22-year-olds in miniature Browns jerseys. That's love he's going to come home and try to give to you. So in the end you don't need to be jealous but it is still your problem.
2) Budget for Uber. Men think they are terrific drivers, but insurance company rates say different. He will for sure think he's sober enough to manage I-90 for a couple of exits, and he will for sure catch a DUI. Lakewood is not playing when it comes to "creating revenue," and you need to not play about him controlling a vehicle. Wake him at 5:30 on Sunday with a "Your Uber will be here at 6; there are tallboys in the fridge for breakfast." Congrats, you're girlfriend of the year and you also have the house to yourself to spread out and fail at a bunch of Pinterest projects.
3) If you watch the game, don't watch it with him. Go out with your girlfriends, do shots of fireball, get groped by strangers walking behind you at a fast clip and live it up! If you watch the game together he may, rather than directing his anger at a large organization beyond his control, direct it at you, the woman who lets him experience regular sex. If you insightfully describe that transfer-of-anger dynamic to him, in his already vulnerable and agitated state, he will crush a couple more Coors and slide into dejection. You don't need to be the couple cry-fighting in front of the Old Angle. Put on your miniature Browns jersey, go out with the girls, and let him creep on you over Instagram.
4) Give him punishing, solitary physical labor late Sunday evening. He will protest. He will say, "It's dark, why do you need wood chopped now? What is all that wood even doing in the apartment's parking lot?" Smile, then shut and lock that door. Trauma lives in the body. He needs to physically work through the anger of watching that game and sweat out the sadness. If you hear him cursing and crying, the process is working. When he's tired and ready to come in, greet him with ibuprofen and a big glass of room temperature water. You may rightfully ask, "Isn't giving my angry male loved one an axe sort of Shining-esque?" Trust and believe, sister. If the building you live in wasn't built on Indian burial ground you should be fine. So, yeah, that is something to double check if you live in Old Brooklyn.
5) Tune him out. He may try to explain to you the details of how the management of the Browns has failed him. He may even speak to you in a manner that implies you are less intelligent for not engaging deeply in solving the mysteries of the team's poor choices. Know that this derision comes from a place of fear. He is locked in obsessive thought about a sports game, and the way you use that same mental energy to think about your finances, career, and relationships is threatening to him. Look at the time he spends speaking to you about his Browns opinions as an opportunity to look out the window and connect visually with this beautiful planet. When he asks, "Are you even listening?" smile, kiss him on the cheek, and walk out of the room. Just as you would limit your engagement with a 3-year-old describing a movie, or a friend tripping on shrooms calling from a music festival, you can gracefully sidestep his bid for a Browns argument.
6) How should you manage the intense emotions the Browns game may bring up in you? Girl. We're the gatekeepers of life, grow the heck up. If you care so much about the Browns, why don't you marry them? Or be a side-chick, whatever gets you that NFL money.