2009-02-05 / Sam Bari

The price of justice

You can't beat a system you can't understand
By Sam Bari

Finally, the time has arrived when everybody can relax. The pressures of the presidential inauguration, the Australian Open tennis tournament, and the Super Bowl, the movable Mecca of professional sports, are all behind us. As miraculous as it may be, the world survived despite the undeniably tense moments born of too many high anxiety events bunched together in a two-week period.

This week, I am going to acknowledge a man who threw a small Super Bowl party where the guests respectfully watched and enjoyed the game. Although this does not sound as if it would be a gathering of significance, I must point out that his right to host this now annual affair, cost the man somewhere around $300,000 to have the right to do so.

The man, whose real name will not be used at his request, and his friends will be aware of my acknowledgement as soon as they read this column. Other than omitting their names, I have not attempted to even thinly disguise their identity.

The man, who we will call Jerry, is an avid football fan. Admittedly, Jerry's wife is a bit of a football widow during the season because she does not share his enthusiasm for the gridiron contests.

About a decade ago, Jerry told his wife, whom we shall call Sheila, that he wanted to invite a few friends for a modest Super Bowl party. Much to his surprise, Sheila said that Jerry had a great idea and enthusiastically offered to help.

Before Jerry had an opportunity to protest, Sheila had taken over the organizational responsibilities and invited Jerry's football friends as well as their wives or significant others. Jerry suspected that her intentions were not altogether altruistic, but he couldn't put his finger on her exact agenda.

Sheila's agenda was simple. She was selective about the friends she invited. She made sure that the men who had lost their manhood as well as their wallets and bank accounts at the alter comprised the majority of the crowd when accompanied by their spouses.

When the game commenced, the sound emanating from the game on television was little more than a minor background annoyance making a feeble attempt to compete with overbearing party conversation.

Every year Sheila made sure that the party turned into less and less of a football event. She smirked in defi ance, as she made Jerry pay for his season-long indulgence by having to tolerate her non-football Super Bowl fiasco.

Whenever Jerry or any of the other serious fans protested the excessive noise, Sheila and her supporters would accuse them of being rude and obnoxious. The non-football majority inevitably had their way.

Jerry is an architect. His office is above a garage at the back of his property. The office is large, measuring approximately 40-foot square. It just so happens that it is an excellent space for a party.

Jerry's office is his sanctuary. He holds the only key. He even has a gate with a buzzer at the bottom of the stairs so unwanted solicitors or anyone else cannot come up the stairs and knock on the door unless he buzzes the gate open. He can turn the buzzer off any time that he wants.

In 2006, when Payton Manning took the Indianapolis Colts to a victory over the Chicago Bears, Jerry leveled the playing field concerning the Super Bowl party. He clandestinely told his serious football friends that they could join him in his office to watch the game in a football friendly atmosphere if they were willing to sneak out of the party in the main house.

The football fanatics were delighted at the prospect of a real Super Bowl party and cooperated fully to make the ploy a success. They each brought a snack and something to drink, and Jerry set up a wide screen TV in the office for the occasion.

Jerry's son came home from college with his cheerleader girlfriend who was also a serious football fan. She brought several of her friends with her, and they wanted to watch the game unimpeded. Jerry's get together had half a dozen of his closest football buddies, his son, and four gorgeous college cheerleaders in attendance.

By halftime, the absence of the husbands, Jerry's son and the four beautiful girls was obvious. Sheila saw the lights on in the office and marched over to the gate where she repeatedly pressed the buzzer. Nobody responded. When she called on the telephone, the answering service picked up. She was livid.

After the game, Jerry and his band of revelers returned to the main house. They were quite satisfied with watching the game under ideal conditions. Sheila and her emasculating friends were not amused.

The private party, the pretty girls, the exclusive invitations were more than they could bear. They were entitled to dictate the conditions under which their husbands enjoyed themselves. How dare they be denied? It wasn't right, they said.

Jerry and his friends just laughed. "Justice at last," they said. Sheila did not take defeat lightly. In less than a year, Jerry's marriage was a thing of the past. Sheila got the house, and he kept the office. The entire bill for regaining his bachelorhood was on the up side of $300,000. "It was worth every penny and then some," he said.

Every year, despite Sheila's vehement opposition, Jerry throws his Super Bowl party for true football fans, and he holds the event in his office. Nobody ever claimed that justice was cheap, especially when it is administered in a system that we can't understand.

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