It is the custom of the Rexville League of Gentlemen to watch a football game on Sunday afternoon, usually over at Richard Mattrass's house on Bradshaw Road. Mattrass is a fence and gate builder.
Jimmy Schermerhorn, a League of Gentlemen Founder, came over from his Fir Island residence. Jimmy is the premier shade mechanic in the Skagit Valley. He nicely maintains my beloved 1993 Red Toyota. His service is first rate and his prices are reasonable.
Mike Carlisle is a stone mason, a practitioner of that ancient, mystical discipline. He hails from Jackson, Mississippi, and maintains a complex relation with his Souther heritage. Carlisle is considered -- no formal process here -- the football insider. He knows the game. He can see it. His play-by-play comments are spare, but dead on.
Stuart Welch, owner of the Rexville Store, from which most League activities eminate, is also an expert on football. But Stuart operates from a much larger perspective. Being the chief functionary of a general store, Stuart is an expert on everything.
I never hesitate to ask his opinion on any matter. Why even this morning, I discussed with Stuart my plan to seal my air-leaky windows with clear vinyl to provide insulation against cold, creeping air.
He said that was a good idea, but, as he often does, Stuart had an even better idea. "Use bubble wrap," he said.
"Why, that's a great idea. I hadn't thought of that. Bubble wrap would be far superior to clear vinyl. I will use the bubble wrap on those windows I never look out of, and save the vinyl for the two windows that announce my view of the lovely wheat fields on Beaver Marsh Road."
(I should insert here that all the farmers have planted wheat this fall, because of wheat's very high price, and the field outside my trailer window is like a multi-acred new mown lawn -- the wheat sprouts are 3 inches tall by now, and will stay green, if dormant, throughout the dark winter days.)
Anyway, Stuart advised me on my winterizing project this morning, and he announced before the game began this afternoon, with his usual unqualified voice of authority, that the New England Patriots would trounce the Indianapolis Colts.
We usually watch the Seahawks of course. But we faced a quandary, because both the Patriots and the Colts were undefeated in nine previous contests with lesser opponents, and the Colts vs Patriots promised to be a dramatic and decisive battle.
The League, always resourceful in these matters, decided that we simply needed to get another TV set, so we could watch both games at the same time.
I agreed to that, although I knew, personally, that head swivelling from one set to another would make me dizzy, so I decided to affix my attention to the Patriots and Colts and ignore the Seahawks.
My attention was rewarded. It was a close fought contest by two superb teams. Although the Colts led the game for the first three quarters, Stuart never wavered in his certainty that the Patriots would prevail.
Notwithstanding that Stuart grew up in Maine and might seem to favor New England, I would never challenge the impartiality of another League member. Stuart was right of course.
Despite some bad calls by the referees, especially three dubious charges of pass interference against the Patriots, despite Brady, the Patriot quarterback throwing two intercepted passes, the Patriots overpowered the Colts in the 4th quarter and won the game.
You might say that Carlisle provides the play-by-play, and Stuart provides the color, but I supply the atmospherics.
"Indiana is the armpit of the Midwest," I stated, midway through the game. All the gentlemen agreed. "It's the New Jersey of the Midwest," Stuart added.
"Larry Bird is the only good thing that ever came out of Indiana," I continued. "And the Indianapolis Colts play in a domed stadium. What? Are the afraid of a little weather."
Nevertheless, I wanted the Colts to win -- I can't say why.