My husband had to work late last night so I decided to treat my 5-year-old daughter to a girls’ dinner out. We were chatting about school, upcoming vacations, birthdays, Halloween, and just having a really nice evening together. There was a large family next to us, eight of them total. The Patriarch was a very domineering, talkative fellow who was semi-lecturing his grown children and big-kid grandchildren on various life topics while they waiting for their food. There was the Patriarch and his quiet wife, 3 adults in their 30s, and a few grandkids.
The topic eventually came around to football and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now here in Florida, very few people can actually say they are from Florida. Almost all the folks are transplants from some other location. (No wonder they can’t fill their football stadium with Bucs fans and prevent getting blacked out every Sunday…but I digress).
So this table of eight was clearly from the Pittsburgh area originally, or maybe they were just visiting Florida for some reason. Maybe they now live here? Who knows…who really cares. (Certainly not me).
So the Patriarch (let’s call him Papa Squealer) was talking about all the woes of their team this season, he dissected everything from the coaching staff to the new Nike uniforms. Papa Squealer had a lot to say about the topic.
Then he starts a diatribe on the opposing teams in the Division. He didn’t spend too much time on the Browns, other than to laugh at them and say they never should have gotten another team after Modell took their first one. Then he spent some time on the Bengals, surprised at how they are playing, wondering what they’ll do, but denouncing any real chance of them to make something of this current season.
So of course the guy saves the Ravens for last, because he has a LOT to say about our team. Meanwhile, the restaurant wasn’t that crowded and we were sitting RIGHT next to this large table in a little booth against the wall. Papa Squealer was facing us, so there was no way NOT to hear him and listen to what he was saying.
He acknowledged that we have had a strong start to the season, but then listed the umpteen reasons why we were going down. He was using some pretty strong words which I didn’t like in the presence of my 5-year-old. Although my daughter didn’t acknowledge that this guy was spewing hatred against our beloved Ravens, she’s a pretty sharp tack, so I know she heard him and was probably half-listening like I was.
Then he got to Ray. And my blood pressure started to rise. I’m already emotional at the events of this week, and cannot brace myself to think about the future when it comes to Ray Lewis. I am trying to just lift him up in prayer and not think about the reality of it all. So when Papa Squealer started in on Ray, things got very uncomfortable for me. At this point, he’s saying Ray Lewis’s name over and over again, so now I absolutely KNOW my daughter has heard him (and she certainly knows who Ray Lewis is, not to mention loves him as much as her parents do).
And then he did it. Papa Squealer called Ray “the murderer” and added on with a sneer and a chuckle, “let’s hope he doesn’t go out in the streets and start murdering people again because his football career is over”.
If my daughter wasn’t there, or if my husband WAS there with us to remove her from the area, I would have absolutely walked over to his chair and given him a piece of my mind. I wish I would have had pen and paper to write him a note. I wish maybe I would have stood up to confront him in front of my kid. But my heart was breaking and I had actual tears in my eyes from the anger I felt from this stranger saying these things. I am sure my daughter heard him say that, but she again, didn’t acknowledge it. I’m waiting for her to ask me in a few days, “Mommy? What’s a murderer?”
My heart sighs just re-telling this story from last night. I watched (more than once and it’s still on my DVR) the Ray Lewis episode of A Football Life just a few weeks ago. After watching that, feeling this inspiring start to the season, Ray’s season-ending injury, and the chatter about what will come with next year…it’s almost too much. I feel so much pride to say I am a Ravens fan. I am a Ray Lewis fan. I bleed purple. No matter where I live.
But I have to ask, WWCD? What would you Chix have done in that situation? What do you say to Papa Squealer? Or is it best to not even acknowledge it?
Mind your x’s and