Bouncer Tees Off on Condi Rice, Televised Football

It's always interesting to me when learned, accomplished women turn out to be obsessed with sports. For example, Joyce Carol Oates loves boxing. Even stranger, Condoleezza Rice loves football. She is a historian of the game and has followed it closely since she was a little girl. I admire that, even though I hate football just about as much as I hate Republicanism.

I suppose it makes sense that when you combine the two — the gridiron and the GOP — a shitstorm would erupt. In perhaps the most telling example of how the Iraq war went so terribly wrong, Rice has been quoted as saying that football gave her an appreciation for politics and the machinations of battle.

According to this analogy, countries are like football teams, all jockeying for more yardage on the grid. You have to plan your moves ahead of time, be economical in your offense and defense, and, whenever possible, slap someone on the butt.

Since Rice is a football fanatic, she could no doubt walk into a sports-themed bar — such as the Tee Off on Clement — and have a merry old time watching the game and drinking beer with the best of 'em.

Too bad I am not Condoleezza Rice, and I do not find televised football exciting. It's a cross I must bear in this crazy quilt of a life: She who likes bars must also endure sports.

I didn't know what to expect from the Tee Off, but I damn sure expected more of a golf theme. I could actually even get into a golf theme, since, to my knowledge, there really aren't any bars like that in S.F. I mean, golf has some good things going for it, like that fact that it's Scottish and reminds me of Ted Knight.

Instead, the Tee is basically a cozy A's bar, with the accompanying signage. There are also tons of bobbleheads behind the bar, skull lights hanging above, and the obligatory beer signs. One thing you can tell right away is that this place is dearly loved. The night I was there, it held a raucous crowd, and the bartenders looked right at home.

When I walked in someone yelled, "Kiss Army!" and everyone drank. The TV was playing Scooby-Doo. I can't tell you how cool this was. "Wow," I said to the bartender. "Kiss and Scooby. It's like reliving my childhood."

"Actually, you never left your childhood," he answered with a broad smile. "You're still in it." He was wearing one of those caps worn by kids who sold newspapers in the '20s. He had the face of a character actor, with interesting lines and shapes that coalesced into a sort of spiritual punctuation mark that says, "I'm a great guy!"

The TV suddenly changed to football (turns out Scooby was just a commercial. Fart.). I was again reminded of Condoleezza. I suppose there is some truth in the idea that you can apply the rules of football to other things. When I walked into the Tee Off, I took the farthest stool and tried to gain yardage by working my way toward the middle. I started with the bartenders, whom I attempted to chat up. Then I smiled at the Chinese guy a few seats away in hopes that he would start up a conversation and I could scoot over two seats to hear him better. The real prize, though, was the small group at the opposite end, the same folks who had yelled "Kiss Army!" and were now having a jaunty discussion about STDs. This was my goal line.

I made it as far as one stool and then had an epiphany. Unlike in real football, what really greases the wheel in these situations is intoxication. Drunkenness will let you break through any and all lines of defense. If I were lit, I could just get up and inject myself into the STD group's conversation. It was the metaphorical equivalent of catching a pass way down at one end of the field and then running all the way to the other end, avoiding being pummeled, and getting a touchdown.

I was not drunk. Not even close. In fact, I could hardly finish my one beer. I stared at the "goal line" at the end of the bar. The group comprised one guy and two girls, one of whom was talking about her sexual relationship with her roommate, and the rules and regulations that they had set down. They were talking loudly enough that I didn't need to be sitting next to them. The women were practically broadcasting their playbook for all to hear. I slipped out of the bar without saying goodbye to anyone; not that they would've noticed this bench warmer anyway.

I listened to the news in the car. Bush had just given his very last State of the Union speech, with Condi in attendance. We are in the last throes of his fumbled presidency, just feet from the goal line, thank God. Or, as Condi would say, "Boo-ya!" The game is almost over.

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