You didn't know this until now, but you can thank our tailgate party for that Patriots win against Cincinnati. We clearly made the critical difference.
(I'm kidding, of course. The Patriots did themselves proud, and I need to praise them like I should: the offense pulled themselves together spectacularly well, and the defense showed their adaptability and intelligence in the face of the Bengals' no-huddle offense. Tom Brady was connecting with his receivers. And I can't wait to see what kind of an offensive weapon the Corey Dillon / Laurence Maroney duo will yet become, if they're this good now.)
But about our tailgate party. We gathered to watch the game at Randy "Zip" Pierce's house, as we usually do for away games. This group has a lot of traditions, most of which started during the team's Super Bowl runs over the last few years. Clearly, those traditions brought good luck to the team. So they stuck, and now we're practically required to do them, for that "mojo" factor. For instance:
* Everybody who owns a Bruschi jersey wears their Bruschi jersey.
* Zip makes jambalaya for home games, and harvest chowder for away games.
* I make pumpkin spice bread for all games. (Guilty admission: I skipped it for last week's Denver game, and we all know the sad results.)
* At away games, a referee doll made of Velcro is either coddled or ripped limb-from-limb, depending on how the real-life referees are treating the Patriots.
* Red-and-blue Jello shots are served at home games. * Toasts are made at certain clock times, like 12:54, 2:54, 7:54, etc. (Sense a pattern?)
And so on. Now, after last week's Denver loss, Zip naturally began worrying about the team, and he asked everyone to do everything they could to boost the team's mojo for the Bengals game. We did, and look what happened!
(To let you know how seriously this group takes the whole mojo thing, consider the 2001 Chicago game in which the host, Zip, left the room for a few minutes to get a drink. While he was out, a spectacularly good play happened. So to keep the Pats on track to win, poor Zip was banished back outside his own home!)
The funny thing is that I don't think anyone in this group is truly superstitious. My husband and I, both of whom come from a rational-minded engineering background, certainly aren't -- we don't believe in curses (not even "the" Curse), or superstitions, or mojo at a distance, or anything like that. But we throw ourselves into it as enthusiastically as anyone. Why?
I think it's about social participation. We could all be passive and just sit watching the game from the couch, but that's not very fun. This way, we have things to do. We have roles to play -- identities within the tribe -- and our participation (or lack thereof) is a constant source of amusement,
good-natured harassment, or praise. We even make up new rituals during some games, as we see what "works" to make the Patriots play well.
It's also about imagination. We may not in fact have any control at all over the outcome of the game (at least when we're watching on TV, and they can't hear us yelling). But we can pretend to help our team. And that's definitely fun.
So if the Patriots lose next week, it won't be on us. We'll be working the mojo magic as hard as we can -- will you?
I just want to know if I'm stuck making pumpkin spice bread for the rest of my days.
Jenifer Tidwell can be found at the Razor's Edge tailgate party during game days. You can also find her on occasion in the forums under the name of BruschiBackerJen or on her personal website at www.jtidwell.net