"Consider it part of his acculturation to our society," Selveig had told her. "This is our great tribal gathering, our manly right of passage. If he is going to stay in New Mexico, he has to learn to watch football. Otherwise people will know he's an alien."
"I'm not sure it's a good idea. Some of those crowds can get rowdy," Jane replied. She tried not to imagine Thor's reaction if a fight broke out in the stands.
"Then we'll watch it on the television. What could be safer than that?"
"You two won't destroy my apartment?"
"We won't destroy your apartment. I swear it."
So the next Sunday, they gathered to watch the game. As part of Thor's cultural learning experience, Selveig brought several six-packs of Coors, barbequed chicken wings, nachos, Swedish meatballs, and a gallon of chili.
"How many people were you expecting?" Jane asked him.
"This should be enough for the four of us," the professor told her.
Darcy arrived with chocolate chip cookies, which were quickly devoured, and tofu hotdogs which Thor regarded suspiciously until Jane assured him that they did not contain dog meat. "They have tofu in them," the professor told him. "That's even worse."
Thor insisted on helping carry the ancient television set from the hall closet. Jane kept it on hand for occasions of great national and historic import like space launches and eclipses. With the advent of online video, the TV came out less and less and had not been out of its closet in several months. After wiping the dust from the glass, she pressed the on button then held her breath as the screen flickered slowly to life. While she and Selveig discussed the optimal positioning for the rabbit ear antennae based on current atmospheric conditions and recent sunspot activity, Thor randomly fiddled with the ears until the set was tuned to the game.
"Is this it?" the Asgardian asked. "I do not see any giants."
"They're the ones in blue and red. The Vikings are the ones in purple," Selveig said, handing him a can of beer.
They settled in to watch, Thor and Jane on the sofa, the professor in the rocking chair, and Darcy seated in lotus position on the floor.
Thor quickly picked up on the rules, and after he got over his initial disappointment that the combatants were unarmed, he watched intently, hunched forward on the sofa.
"This is much like the games folk play in Asgard. Though there we toss boulders instead of this football."
During the interminable waiting between plays, he rose to his feet and paced back and forth, his head nearly brushing the ceiling. And whenever the Vikings scored, he shouted "Skol, Vikings!" along with the others. Their plates were soon stacked with the carnage of denuded chicken wings, while empty beer cans sat in heaps like the skulls of slain enemies.
Yet despite their feasting and cheers, the Vikings did not prevail. After the final inglorious play, the professor threw a pillow at the television, and Thor slammed his fist on the coffee table which collapsed into a pile of kindling.
The thunder god poked at the remains. "Jane, I am so sorry. Here I am a guest in your house, and I behave like a drunken Jotunn."
"It's alright. I can glue it back together," she told him once she had stopped laughing.
The sofa creaked as Thor slumped back in his seat. "If I had been there, those Giants wouldn't have held the field."
"But do not despair. Next week the Vikings are playing the Cleveland Browns," the professor said with a wry laugh.
On the television, two sports commentators discussed the game.
Thor popped another beer and scowled. "I am not sure that I like this football. It is difficult to simply watch from afar and do nothing."
The sports commentators wrapped up their discussion and were replaced by a long stream of commercials. The professor started picking up dirty plates and beer cans while Jane went to fetch a broom to sweep up the shattered coffee table. She stopped in the doorway at Thor's excited shout. "Jane! You must see this!" He was staring at the television as if transfixed.
Brawny men in kilts were throwing what looked like telephone poles into the air. Against a background of screeching bagpipes, a voice said, "Don't miss the Rio Grande Highland Games next weekend."
"How far away is the place called Rio Grande?" Thor asked. "Is it very far?"