Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Last Man On Earth

Yesterday was a big day here in southwestern Pennsylvania, as the local pro football team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, hosted the New York Jets in a playoff game and apparently won. Some people, mostly New Yorkers, are downright unhappy about the outcome. Most people around here are ecstatic. I'm not one of them. No, I'm not hostile towards the Steelers, or towards football in general. I have just never been a football fan, despite my father's best efforts when I was a child.

On Friday, I could not go anywhere without seeing people wear some sort of Steelers attire. One of my lunch companions, clad in a Steelers sweater, audaciously questioned the rest of us about our lack of team spirit. I explained to her that no one had given me any incentive to wear the black and gold. You want me to do it? Show me the money.

So what does a non-fan do for kicks when the rest of the world is watching football? He goes grocery shopping, of course.

Back in 1996, when the Steelers went to the Super Bowl (and lost to the Dallas Cowboys), I was working in a retail shop. While people were sitting at home watching the game, I was sitting behind a service desk and trying to keep awake. Our healthy crowd of Sunday evening shoppers had dwindled to almost nil. One of the few phone calls that I received came from a local newspaper reporter who wanted to find out if anyone was actually shopping at the few area stores that were open. I responded with a simple, off-the-cuff response that appeared in the next morning's paper: "I was amazed at how empty the parking lot was".

Empty parking lot? That's true for just about any Steelers game day, but even more so when it's a playoff game. So when my wife told me that yesterday's game had less than an hour to go (in TV time), I made up a quick shopping list and headed for the grocery. The entire parking lot was my domain. Inside the front of the store, employees outnumbered customers. I grabbed my cart and headed down the grocery aisles, where I was the only living being in sight. I felt like Charlton Heston in The Omega Man. The supermarket was my own miniature Los Angeles.

The Omega Man is an apocalyptic horror/science fiction film in which Heston tries to live as normal a life as possible after biological warfare has killed almost everyone with the exception of a few blanched mutants who have established a cult of technophobia. Heston's character represents everything that the cult hates. He continues to use electricity, gasoline...and sunlight. The cult members wear dark hooded robes and sunglasses; they are highly sensitive to light of any kind. They hide in the shadows and only come out at night. (Heston avoided this fate by being the only person to receive an experimental vaccine because he was, of course, a military doctor who had been working on a cure for the deadly affliction.) He just wants to live his life the way he used to and not be bothered. The others want him gotten rid of for not partaking of their ways.

At one point, Charlton Heston is captured by the mutant cult and sentenced to be executed...at a football stadium. The next time I watch that movie, I am going to have a hard time not imagining those black robes with Steelers logos on them.

1 comment:

mobilone said...

I know a fellow who is very athletic but personally hates the Steelers (Not Me). Whenever the Steelers are playing he goes to the gym during the game because he knows he will be able to lift weights alone because everybody else will be home watching the game!