Are you ready for some football?

A Fond Farewell To Summer

I’m not one of those people who bemoans the end of summer. When I was a kid, yeah, because it meant going back to school.

I’m also not one of the locals who rejoice because all the obnoxious city people leave town. There are plenty of obnoxious local people here, too, myself included.

The weather doesn’t concern me. I don’t care if it gets cold and snows. To me, the changing season has always meant just one thing: It’s time for football.

Up until a few years ago, I had a den replete with big screen television, stereo, all my sports stuff, comic books, marbles, and a stash of candy. I felt like I was a teenager again, especially when I developed acne.

Then, my wife Karen suggested the den should be converted into a junior suite. This was a cruel blow and part of a deliberate plan to make me miserable — women are really good at that.

When the leaves fall and the moon shivers, men turn their thoughts to manly things like football, where we are given the chance to bet and lose enormous amounts of money.

The way she had it planned, we would move all my stuff downstairs to the junior suite and then she would have the master bathroom to herself. It was only after I was officially barred from the big bathroom that I realized the whole “den” thing was merely a ploy.

The truth is, she wants to have her family visit more, and she figured giving them their own suite would encourage them. I encourage them as well, by making liver and onions whenever they come over even though they are vegetarians.

Pretty soon they started showing up with bags of grain and miso paste. Then one of them would cook and we’d sit at the table and Karen would say “Rick, do you want some Bulutim with your Krell?” Then I’d spend three hours in my little bathroom.

So that’s when I decided to build my Fortress of Solitude. “Oh so, in other words you don’t want to hang around with me?” Karen asked angrily.

“What gives you that idea?” I responded.

For those who don’t recall, Superman had a Fortress of Solitude. It was way up in the Arctic and he had to blast through like, nine miles of ice just to find the damn thing. Inside, pictures of Lois Lane and Lana Lang adorned the walls. (I don’t want to say there’s a fetish at work here but if he starts dating Lorna Luft . . . ) There are a lot of pictures of Jimmy Olsen, too. “I was just out of college . . . it was a time of experimentation!” Superman said. Hey! There is nothing wrong with that, big fella! By the way, love the cape.

The trouble with Superman’s Fortress is Global Warming. It’s buried in ice in the Arctic one day and the next? Floating under the Verrazano where Lex Luthor and the other bad guys will find it.

I decided to make music the theme of my fortress, because Music Is Me, even though I am tone deaf and do not possess an iota of talent. My fortress was adorned with my *favorite albums of all time. I also have four guitars, including an electric with enough amplification to blow up half of Detroit. I can make the entire house shake.

I’ve always had male dogs — big mean ones like my German shepherd, Fang. I don’t want to say Karen and her family are trying to emasculate me, but now I have a little seven pounder named Cocoa-Belle who is, in fact, a female, although I specified I wanted a male. But Cocoa-Bronc, I now call him/her, thinks he is a manly watchdog and that’s good enough for me. So, Bronc is allowed in the fortress and we hang around and grunt like men are wont to do; when one of my in-laws walks by the door, Bronc snarls.

What does this have to do with the weather? I’m getting there . . . football, folks. When the leaves fall and the moon shivers, men turn their thoughts to manly things like football, wherein we are given the chance to bet and lose enormous amounts of money, drink way too much watered down swill that passes as American beer, and eat Slim Jims and other miracle grains from the Far East.

To do this, men need the company of other men, like Bronc and Jimmy Olsen. A man’s Fortress is no place for a woman.

*Epilogue: You want to know the albums? Here they are in no particular order, and I guarantee any one of them will blow your mind if you play it loud enough.

Let it Bleed (Stones), Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore, Timepiece (Rascals) Days of Future Past (Moody Blues), The Belle Album (Al Green), The Worst of the Jefferson Airplane, Live Dead, Pet Sounds (The Beach Boys, 1997 remix), Live at Leeds (The Who), Crosby Stills Nash & Young and Odessey and Oracle (The Zombies).