Another family food holiday, and alternatives to it

The Hi and Lois cartoon from 2/7/16:


Super Bowl Sunday — today, this year — joins Thanksgiving and Christmas as a holiday that serves as an occasion for gatherings of family and friends plus a spread of characteristic food. A family food holiday, for short.

The SBS holiday crucially involves the Super Bowl football game, for the NFL championship: this year, SB LIII  (El Ay Ay Ay!), New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta GA (6:30 ET).

While much of the US population gathers around tv sets for the game, its half-time show, and its ads — virtually emptying out many public spaces —  others seek out alternatives. (I myself have an unbroken record of studied inattention to the game, from SB I in 1967 on.) Alternatives that are cultural, recreational, commercial, and even sexual. (This posting will devolve into tales of SBS mansex, but I’m putting that material at the end, so kids and the sexually modest can enjoy the rest of this material and then bail out when the gay guys strip and go at it with one another like weasels in heat.)

SBS food. In line with the occasion of SB-watching, SBS food is mostly finger food. Often messy finger food, but not table-sitting knife-and-fork food.

In line with American football as a supremely macho working-class team sport framed as warfare in uniform (close kin to ice hockey and some forms of rugby), the food is also manfood, free of cultural associations with femininity or homosexuality: pizza is manfood, quiche is not; tortilla chips are manfood, carrot sticks are not; chili is manfood, beef bourguignon is not. (These are brute cultural facts.)

Classic SBS food comes in three categories: meat-centered (beef, pork, or chicken), chip-centered (salty fried tortilla or potato chips), and pizza:

meat-centered: (ground beef) chili (with beans); baby back ribs (of pork); buffalo (chicken) wings with hot sauce, blue cheese dip, or ranch dressing

chips (tortilla or potato), alone or with dip (esp. guacamole, but also spinach dip or chile con queso); nachos (see my 11/16/13  posting “macho nachos” ); pretzels or peanuts (but not fancy nuts like cashews, Brazil nuts, or macadamias) might be allowable as alternatives to unadorned chips

pizza by the slice (so long as it’s not too foofy), esp. pepperoni pizza; sections of submarine (or hero, Italian, grinder,… ) sandwich might be an allowable alternative

Since SBS comes during American winter, its characteristic food is also indoor food, or at least food easily prepared indoors — in contrast to the characteristic foods of the Fourth of July, hamburgers and hot dogs barbecued on an outdoor grill.

This year’s SB, #53. The logo:


(The SB logos are almost always clunky and awkward; I imagine that anything with style would be viewed as too girly-faggy.)

I choose to read the Roman numerals as a sequence of letter names L I I I el ay ay ay, as if it were Spanish ‘the ay ay ay‘, with the “Mexican Spanish exclamation ay ay ay, conveying ‘dismay, confusion, or frustration'” (from the Mental Floss posting “Where Did the Phrase “Ay Yai Yai” Come From?” by Will McGough  on 11/14/13). So this is the SBS of Dismay.

Then there’s the spelling of the SB name, as two separated words (Super Bowl), rather than one solid word (Superbowl). The NFL presumably chose this spelling on the model of existing college bowl game names (the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, etc.), all of which were N + N compounds. But Super Bowl doesn’t look like a N + N compound; instead, it looks like a composite of the Adj super ‘very good or pleasant; excellent’ + head N bowl, as in a super cook. But then it should have the accent pattern of an Adj + N composite (afterstress, as in a super cook), rather than the accent pattern of a N + N compound (forestress, as in Superman). The solid spelling of Superman (Supergirl, Superglue, superbug, superclass, etc.) signals forestress, so you’d expect the name of the NFL bowl game to be spelled Superbowl. But the analogy to Rose Bowl etc. won out in the spelling.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t mention these delicate matters of spelling, but as it happens, in my writing about sex at the gay baths on SBS in 1996 (coming up in a little while) I chose the solid spelling Superbowl — defensible, but from the point of view of the NFL, just wrong, and the NFL is the authority here.

Alternatives to the SB. Cultural, recreational, commercial, and even sexual.

Cultural. On a Sunday afternoon in the middle of winter there are likely to be all sorts of culltural events — concerts, exhibitions, performances, movies — you could go to. Lively Arts at Stanford happens to have no afternoon event today, but they often schedule concerts on the afternoon of SBS. (Cellphones are prohibited during concerts, but one of the musicians, or someone from the management, comes out during intermissions to report on the SB game score.)

Today, for me, it’s the National Theatre Ensemble’s performance of Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra, screened at the Aquarius Theatre in Palo Alto.

Usually, parking is easy.

Recreational. Fitness centers and the like typically have few users on SBS. Parks and amusement parks ditto, though the weather might be a problem.

Commercial. Many stores — especially those with high percentages of male customers (like hardware stores and sporting goods stores) — are nearly empty, so this would be a good time to do that in-store shopping you’ve been thinking about.

Sexual. You might consider getting off with some porn, or a willing partner, on this generally quiet day. If you’re into mansex, you should know that a fair number of gay men and also MSMs (men who have sex with men, while not identfying as gay or bisexual) like to celebrate SBS by getting off in the morning or early afternoon, before going on to SB events, and that non-sports-oriented queer guys are likely to find the gay baths and sex clubs humming with similarly disposed horny men who are avoiding SB events.

Now comes the mansex. If that doesn’t suit you — the gay baths material is quite explicit — you should leave this posting.

SBS mansex I: gay porn for the occasion. From my 2/6/16 posting “The Super Bowl looms”, about a C1R gay gangbang film advertised on Super Bowl Sunday:

The flick, advertised as Gridiron Gang Bang or Gridiron GangBang or Gridiron Gangbang (with the subtitle Penetration in the Backfield), was the subject of an AZBlogX posting “In the locker room, half-hard” of 10/21/15, featuring a locker room scene showing two men with half-hard cocks. Men’s locker rooms are, of course, prime territory for homoerotic photography and gay porn.)

It’s the high-macho world of football that makes that particular locker room so attractive to C1R’s audience of gay men. So of course the company offered Gridiron Gang Bang for sale on SBS.

SBS mansex II: Superbowl Sunday, San Jose, 1996. Three pieces of ficto(auto)biography on a day at the gay baths in San Jose CA:

on 10/3/10, “Superbowl Sunday (Part I): San Jose, 1996”

on 10/3/10, “Superbowl Sunday (Part II)”

on 10/3/10, “Superbowl Sunday: notes”

From the first, a visit to one of the byways of mansex:


Football fan.  At the gay baths, there is a noticeable outflow of patrons as the magic hour of 3 (Pacific Time) approaches: fags hurrying on to their Superbowl parties.

I know what some of you are saying to yourselves: they aren’t real fags, they are mostly-straight bisexuals, in the closet, getting a little dick on the side. And that is probably the case for the first guy I play with – a guy with hugely broad shoulders and big chest who reels me in in the porn-TV lounge by stroking his proportionally big hard-on under his towel and staring fixedly at me. I follow him back to his room, where it turns out that what he wants is to suck my cock for a little while, an experience that gets him so excited he comes almost immediately (in a spray that goes over two feet – it splashes on his face – something I’ve never seen before and find entertaining, in a Believe It or Not sort of way).

 Football Fan has a wedding ring on. In the over 40 years since my first carnal experience with another man, I’ve had maybe a dozen guys ask to suck my cock and then shoot within seconds of taking it (always appreciatively, but then as far as they were concerned we were done). Every one of them was a married man, to judge from their wedding rings or their explicit testimonies.

I got into gay sex when i was a married man myself, but I was never one of these hair-trigger guys. Ok, I was into connecting, they were into getting off.

After a while, I stopped being surprised. Like I said, men are such thoughtless selfish shits.

As soon as Football Fan catches his breath he’s ready to get out of the baths and get to his Superbowl event. So I say bye and see-ya, give him a slap on one of those big shoulders, and tell him I hope the Steelers win.  (They lose, 27-17.  I just looked it up.) By then I know about as much about his sports enthusiasms as I do about his sexual interests.  An excellent moment for someone like me to say goodbye.

 I doubt that he thinks of himself as a fag, and I wonder if he even thinks of himself as some kind of gay. I don’t actually care – for a first encounter of an afternoon, this one’s been just fine, a nice little appetizer (some emotion beyond lust would have been nice, though, not to mention some affection), it’s a way back into sex with men after a while away, I don’t really want to shoot my load right away, and it’s always pleasing to give someone what turns out to be exactly what they want – but I can’t help musing on how people see themselves and how they think about others.  Writer’s curse.

The baths do have a non-porn TV tuned to the game, and there are plenty of watchers, including at least one guy, someone who no one’s gaydar could miss, who describes himself (in my hearing) as a football queen, which I would take to be evidence that you can keep all the Kinsey points you want and still be a football fan, so long as you do it in style.


Most of the rest of the 1996 story is a tale of a long and deeply satisfying sexual encounter between my character and Mark, his main trick of the day. Moving and complex, but only accidentally connected to SBS.

5 Responses to “Another family food holiday, and alternatives to it”

  1. javava2012 Says:

    Arnold, you spelled ‘gang bang’ as ‘gangbang’ in separate instances. ‘Any reason for that?
    Perhaps you can answer a question that has long puzzled me: How the sexual sense of gang bang — of which there, of course, two: the one in your reference in this posting, and the one of multiple members of one sex ‘ganged’ on a single (albeit possible married!) member of the opposite sex; The latter, obviously, dates from days when there were but two sexes! — came to be paralleled by the more violent sense referring to gang-oriented criminal types.
    On a separate note, FYI, my former blog has been replaced by The Same orientation (the odd, and less-reported news, with occasional commentary) dressed up in a dotcom suit. I hope you’ll give it a look-see.
    Doug Harris

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    “Arnold, you spelled ‘gang bang’ as ‘gangbang’ in separate instances. ‘Any reason for that?”

    Both spellings are fine for me, so I tend to use whichever one I’ve seen most recently, usually in something I’m quoting.

  3. Robert Coren Says:

    With respect to “manfood”: Some 15-20(?) years ago there was a humorous column in the _Boston Globe_ titled “What not to say during the Super Bowl”, of which the only example to stick in our minds (because we found it particularly amusing) was “Honey, would you like some brie?”

    Ever since, in those years in which we watch the game (which is to say, if the Patriots are playing, which is most years these days), we make a point of having brie (and that most masculine of all drinks, sherry) during the game. (As we did last night.)

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Lovely. I now note that there are various ways for food to be unmasculine. With brie and sherry, the issue is class: brie and sherry are associated with the upper-middle class, while truly masculine food is associated with the working class.

      Intersectionality, as they say, is everywhere.

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