What was strange about sitting there in a hotel bar waiting for the coffee to brew surrounded by sullen men eating dinner alone was how old that January day in Pasadena thirty-six years ago looked. I remember exactly where I was when I saw it. I was in seventh grade and I was alone in my friend A.J.'s home. He had been picked up by his father earlier. A.J. and his little brother Nick lived with their mother, who recently had divorced his dad, in a condo across the street from Fisher Junior High in Los Gatos, California. My father was supposed to have picked me up at the same time, but he was a no show. A.J.'s mother waited around for my father to arrive, but she had a place she had to be; so slightly agitated because she didn't want to leave me alone, she too left. By the time the first quarter kicked off I was sitting alone watching the Super Bowl on a small color TV next to the kitchen table.
The condo was new. Marge, A.J.'s mother, was an interior decorator. Everything was new; everything was shiny and suburban 1970s solid. On television the Rose Bowl grass seemed unbelievably brilliant and perfect. It was a beautiful sunny day both outside and on TV. The Raiders and Vikings uniforms looked crisp and cutting edge. I remember Biletnikoff's catches and Clarence Davis' runs; I remember the Vikings getting steamrollered. Those are the images I still hold in my head. Yet there I was four decades later looking at the same images and they looked truly dated, ancient, from another era, buried beneath an ocean of time.
The nice young waitress brought out the fresh pot of coffee and filled my stainless steel travel mug. She insisted there was no charge, but I left two dollars on the table. And then, as Sammy White jogged up to the line of scrimmage, I turned my back on this little happenstance Saturday night collision with Geistesgeschichte.