LENOX -- Today -- the first Sunday of February -- is one of my two favorite days in the otherwise bleak January to March dead-of-winter period. The pages of the calendar seem to flip especially slowly at this time of year.
Game Day, as it's come to be known semi-officially, has taken its place alongside Valentine's Day in my affections, but not for the obvious reason. Far from it.
I don't watch football, never have, never will. I consider it a violent "sport" whose main "contribution" to our society appears to be an epidemic of concussions and related maladies. I could barely tell you who's playing tonight, though I've been unable to escape the fact that it's not the Patriots.
I do know that, for some mysterious reason, the game is being played at a stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. I only know that because NBC Nightly News and other media have been reporting obsessively on tight security precautions and on the weather outlook. But I gather it does not include a New York or New Jersey football team.
We can count on the Big Game, as it's also known, not being played in a blizzard or ice storm. It may rain, and it will be in the balmy upper 40s.
By now, if you're still with me, you may be wondering how this could be a day I anticipate fondly.
n The commercials! At least, a few of them. A close colleague e-mailed me a link to this year's Budweiser ad (the one with the Clydesdales and the adorable puppy). It's already gone viral on YouTube, with 23,296,584 views as of Friday morning, when I watched it for the fourth time. I deem it the best ad I've ever seen anywhere, though I go out of my way to avoid TV commercials thanks to the DVR's fast-forward button.
n The quietness that settles over our cities and towns (except for TV-equipped saloons, of course). It's a great time to shop at nearly empty stores or dine at restaurants that are normally crowded and hard to get into. Traffic is minimal, much like on Christmas Day.
n The sense of camaraderie and good cheer that replaces the fractious, raucous, anger-filled spirit so prevalent in our era. At least among the half of the nation that watches the Super Bowl on TV, usually at in-home gatherings, it's a day of good fellowship, assuming the beer-guzzling doesn't get out of hand. Parties abound, and it's glad tidings for merchants of pizza, shrimp platters, popcorn, other snack foods, and booze.
Even though the sport itself is abhorrent to me, at a time when our society is so fractured and fragmented, an event that attracts more than 100 million TV viewers gathered around the proverbial hearth is worth celebrating simply for bringing us together, presumably without the partisan political wrangling that besets so many social interactions.
Undoubtedly, I'm being naive. It can be a busy day for police. Massive gambling goes on, and many folks lose money, especially those who can least afford to. No matter who's playing in any given year, people rooting for the losing side end up with major disappointment. Monday can be a Hangover Day for celebrants as well as for those seeking to drown their sorrows.
Still and all, even though I don't partake of the main attraction, I can appreciate the spirit of the day.
After viewing the Bud commercial, I notified my best friend that my bright idea for tonight is to record the game and, about two hours in, start treating myself to a fast-forward viewing of the commercials, and only the commercials, via the DVR -- my own "Best Super Bowl Ads of 2014" instant special. And there's always the halftime show.
He warned me not to write this column, that I could be labeled unmanly, un-American or anti-social.
I plead not guilty, but some of you might, as I believe the expression goes, throw a penalty flag my way.
Clarence Fanto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.