Last night I sat down to write out the injury report for our annual Snow Bowl Co-Ed Touch Football game on Super Bowl Sunday and as I finished the list, I realized that nobody on the report had a “knee injury” this year. It’s an interesting little footnote on the past seven years of our lives but one that will probably live on for many years to come.
It all really hit me about fifteen months ago when Stephanie and I were entertaining friends at our house. Will and I were shooting the breeze on the couch when I overheard his wife, Kristin, say to Stephanie, “Oh my God, I almost forgot, guess who has a ‘knee injury?’”
“Who?” Stephanie responded excitedly.
“Joanna. Actually, she had a ‘knee injury’.”
“That’s so awesome, I’m so happy for her. And Danielle won’t be playing in the Snow Bowl game this year either because she has a ‘knee injury’ as well.”
And from there, the conversation about “knee injuries” continued while I sat back and smirked. It was odd for me to hear them talking about “knee injuries” as commonly as most people would discuss the weather or the daily news. It was a weird conversation for them to have but as they continued, I just settled back into the couch and patted myself on the back.
It all started back in January of 2001. The NY Giants had just blown away the Minnesota Vikings 41-0 in the NFC championship game and the celebration had begun. There was a loud celebration in our house at the end of the Giant-Vikings game because this meant that our annual Super Bowl/Snow Bowl party would be extra special because the NY Giants would be playing in the Super Bowl.
Every year of our marriage, Stephanie and I have hosted a Super Bowl party. The Party has always started at 11:45am and was filled with a full day of activities. There was the Great American Tailgate BBQ in the snow, there were many football themed activities, more food than anyone can imagine and the highlight of the day was the Snow Bowl. The Snow Bowl was a Co-Ed Touch football game where everyone who attended the Super Bowl/Snow Bowl Party just liked to get outside and play some football. If people decided not to play in the Snow Bowl, we followed the rules of the NFL and we listed them on the annual Snow Bowl injury report which comes a few days before the party.
The Snow Bowl injury report has always been filled with interesting comments that explained why people were unable to play. Once, we had listed a player as “out” and for a reason we had written “snip, snip” next to his name in parenthesis because he had gotten a vasectomy a few days prior to the Snow Bowl. Other years, we have either listed the specific injury or we have listed a funny comment that related to the reason why a player was “out.” This year we added the comment “Apis potanda bigone” which I will let the Latin Scholars translate. On other occasions, we never explained the actual listing because some of the fun was letting people clarify what the comment next to their name actually meant. It made for interesting conversations throughout the day.
As I prepared for that party in 2001, I was ecstatic that the NY Giants had clinched a Super Bowl berth. I wanted everything done a few days beforehand so I had nothing to do but have fun the entire weekend of the Super Bowl. So I sat down and wrote out the checks for all of our monthly bills so I knew exactly what I had in the checkbook, and we could buy food and other items for the Snow Bowl bash. A few years earlier, we had started a financial plan that would have allowed us to be out of debt by the end of 2002. Right before the Super Bowl, I had commented about how we were ahead of schedule and how we might be out of debt by December of 2001.
“Nothing is going to stop us now, sweetheart! We are in the final mile of the race to financial freedom,” I said to Stephanie as I finished writing out the monthly bills.
“But what if something did happen to stop us now? Then what would happen?” she responded coyly.
“I just told you that we are ahead of schedule, nothing can stop us now. Nothing! We are in the home stretch”
“What if we were to have a baby?”
“We talked about that, Stephanie, get out of debt and then start a family. We are a year away.” I could tell that Stephanie was starting to get frustrated with me and I was starting to get a little agitated because she was getting angry at the fact that I was missing something.
“I know we have this plan but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if the plan changed, would it?!”
The discussion seemed to last all night. She seemed overly compelled to continually belabor the point while I continued to explain our financial situation and that we were almost at the point where a family was possible.
I remember sitting on the bed as she once again tried to engage in the discussion with me. Feeling tired and frustrated, I once again, emphatically stated my point, “We have talked about this, sweetie. We both agreed to wait until we get out of debt. It’s one more year, why would you bring this up now?!”
Stephanie stopped what she was doing and stared at me crossly like I was speaking a foreign language. She raised her hand as though she were about to say something, stopped herself, left the room, fumbled around in the desk in the other room. And then a few moments later she came back into the room and threw a stick at me.
“This is why!” she said as she angrily left the room again.
I picked up the plastic stick she had thrown at me and looked at it for a moment. I was in shock. It was a pregnancy test and it very clearly stated that she was pregnant. I felt a rush of emotions flow throughout my body. I was scared, elated, petrified and ecstatic all at once but most of all, I was sorry for not having listened to what my wife had been trying to tell me. There were times when my wife can be the “queen of read between the lines.” And sometimes, I was the “king of I can’t read between the lines and invariably, I will say or do something stupid.” Either way, this was one of those moments you could feel the tension building through our awkward silence.
A few days passed as we talked about the future child that we were about to be blessed with in a little less than a year. I was scared and it showed but I was elated to have a child on the way, but now I had another problem to contend with as the Snow Bowl bash approached. Apparently, it was bad luck to tell people that you are pregnant before the twelfth week and because Stephanie was only four weeks pregnant, she told me that we couldn’t tell anyone yet.
So I had a dilemma. The Snow Bowl was a week away and Stephanie had always played in the annual Snow Bowl Co-Ed Touch Football game. If Stephanie did not play, everyone would have started asking questions and we knew that both of us were bad at lying. If we had to constantly answer the question about why Stephanie wasn’t playing in the football game, one of us was bound to make a mistake and it would come out that she was pregnant.
So when I sat down to write the pre-Snow Bowl injury report email, I listed Stephanie as “out” on the report and next to her name I wrote the words in parenthesis “knee injury.” I never told Stephanie that I was going to list her as hurt on the injury report and I didn’t know exactly how she was going to respond when she saw that she was listed as “out” with a “knee injury.”
I sent the email and she never said a word to me about the explanation for her absence from the game but by Super Bowl/Snow Bowl Sunday, she had developed a little limp and a story that went along with her “knee injury.” Everyone bought her story hook, line and sinker. She deserved an Academy Award for her performance. We hated lying to our friends but we also knew that we had to keep the information private for the time being.
When we finally told everyone eight weeks later that Stephanie was pregnant, we also told them that the “knee injury” on the Snow Bowl injury report had been a code word for her pregnancy. In the years that have followed, our friends have notified us that their wives would not be playing in subsequent Snow Bowls due to a “knee injury” and it has become common knowledge that a “knee injury” listed on our injury report was a private statement about the pregnancy status of one of our friends.
So as I sat on the couch listening to Stephanie and Kristin talk about a couple of our friends who were pregnant, I realized that we had not only used the phrase “knee injury” on our injury reports, but we had all come to use the phrase as our standard announcement about having a baby. And I realized that from that humble little argument my wife and I had seven years ago, a phrase has been coined!!