Football for the Everyday Life

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manhattan women and sport-not so far apart

by lorraine duffy merkl

the new york jets and giants are back, and if, like me, you're not a gridiron fan (or sports reporter like the beleaguered ines sainz), then when the men in your life start to talk about "the game," it's as though they're speaking another language.

i've done some research into the verbiage used in this macho, rather violent contest, and found that manhattan women may have more in common with football than we think. here are some terms that can relate to our everyday, non-pigskin, big apple lives:

two minute warning: what mothers and caregivers give their children when it's time to leave any of our city's playgrounds; what some employers believe is fair notice when announcing layoffs; and what our husbands and boyfriends need when we're going to be late for the ballet at lincoln center, which they really don't want to go to.

fumble: who drops the ball in your life? the co-worker who refuses to comprehend the meaning of teamwork? the guy who forgets to call when he's going to be late? sometimes-embarrassingly enough-it's us, when there's just too much to do and only so much time in which to do it. (see following example.)

snap: what we feel like we're about to do when we're scheduled to chaperone a school field trip, get to a doctor's appointment on the other side of the park and host a dinner party for colleagues-all in the same day.

safety: the reason we take cabs home late at night, jog around central park's reservoir in pairs, own dogs and carry mace.

sack: that baggy (often black) dress we're forced to wear after we've overindulged on chicken wings and peanuts at happy hour, binged on häagen-dazs due to a breakup or downed too much take-out during those late nights at the office.

kickoff: what we do with our shoes (even if they're christian louboutins) after a long day of doing everything the men in the office do, except in heels.

bump and run: the move that sometimes is the only way to get through the crowds in midtown, bloomingdale's or the cross-town bus, since "excuuuuuse meeeee" doesn't always do the trick.

eligible receiver: the rare nyc bachelor worthy of getting our phone number.

defense: what we play most of the time against cutthroat colleagues who keep trying to horn in on our assignments, other parents who think their child is an angel, therefore ours must be to blame, and, it goes without saying, the riders blocking the subway doors.

offense: what we have to be on when we want something (a job, an apartment, a parking space) and we have to go out and stake our own claim because no one's going to just give it to us in this very competitive city.

scrambling: what we do many a morning in order to make that train, bus or deadline. sometimes it's the fault of the long line at starbucks, but other times it's because we've gone out the night before and overslept. ooops.

tight end: what we strive for with our workouts at nysc.

face mask: often gooey and avocado-scented, they protect our skin against this borough's air pollution.

pass: what's made at us, usually by omnipresent construction workers.

xs and os: coaches use these to diagram players' positions, but we know them as the hugs and kisses which we better get for letting our men watch those seemingly never-ending games on sunday afternoons and monday nights.


lorraine duffy merkl's debut novel fat chick, from the vineyard press, is available at and

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