Outside the Cultural Loop

Though Nate knows his movies and TV shows very well, too well at times, he has huge gaps in his grasp of major cultural events and facts. Does he know who the President is? Sometimes. Is he aware of the current situation in Egypt, despite the fact that updates are constantly blaring on the news and we talk about it at dinner? Definitely not.

Sports is a complete void for Nate. He used to come with me to Cubs’ games, but that was strictly food-related. I would pace out his gustatory requests, every 3 innings retreating to a concession stand for peanuts, or popcorn, or ice cream. Or bathroom trips, of course. Planned in advance, he could get what he wanted and I could watch the whole game. But he never knew what was happening on the field, nor did he care.

Nate has a blue “NYC” tee-shirt with orange lettering; Mets’ colors. One day he was wearing it, and I wondered if he knew anything about New York baseball.

“Nate, do you know the names of the two New York baseball teams?” I asked. A little prompt there, letting him know in the question that there were more than one.

“The Yankees.” Very good. “And, uh, the Frankees?”

Classic Nate, very funny.

As we approach Sunday’s Super Bowl, with Elise (Nate’s aide) from Wisconsin, I was curious if he had any grasp of the game details. Surely, amid the hype surrounding the biggest event of the year and, I assumed, Elise’s constant chatter, he must’ve caught some of the details.

Nate loves Super Bowl Sunday. We always have some semblance of a party, Karen makes a lot of food (Nate’s fave is her homemade soft pretzels). The game? No interest.

“Nate, do you know what teams are playing in the Super Bowl?”

“Ummm, uhhhh, I don’t know.”

“Where is Elise from?” I figured I’d start a logical progression.


“Which team is from Wisconsin?”

“Green Bay.” I was a bit surprised he knew that. Perhaps, just perhaps, he was more aware than usual. It wouldn’t surprise me since Elise and her husband Jason are rabid fans of their hometown team.

“The Green Bay what?”

A long pause. “The Godfathers?”

Elise burst into laughter. “That’s perfect!” Nate assured her he would root for the Packers, once he knew that’s what they were called.

So, Super Bowl Sunday nears, 100 million Americans glued to the game action. And there will be Nate, chomping on his warm, straight from the oven pretzels, happy as any one watching the competition.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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