Nick & Choose 50: Revere Beach

Published July 20, 2012

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On the Waterfront
Discovering the particular charms of Revere Beach

The path to the beach where I swam as a child had a gate for blocking unwanted visitors. Heaven forbid one’s cows wander onto a neighbor’s field. On the secluded shoreline, pale families kept their old New England distance, staying outside of earshot or the radius of an errant Frisbee.

Now, like many Bostonians, a day on the beach involves a drive to the Cape, and a stop at the gate means a $15 charge to park on roiling tarmac alongside a sea of burned and boisterous vacationers.

There’s another option, but whenever the suggestion floats up, it’s followed by jokes about hypodermic needles or a concern over mugging. Established as the country’s first public beach in 1896, Revere Beach has fallen from its apex. Long gone are the rides and ballrooms. In their place stretches a boardwalk of shacks and dives. When discussing Revere Beach, the subject of swimming never crosses people’s minds. When I mentioned my girlfriend and I were making the trip, most people assumed we were grabbing lunch at Kelly’s Roast Beef. But after a 15-minute journey, the doors of the Blue Line opened, and the drifting scent of tanning oil confirmed we had arrived at an active seashore.

The scene is distinct. In Wellfleet, a nearby sunbather may point out a seal playing in the waves. Here, a bedraggled gentlemen extolled the virtues of a passing El Dorado. At the same time, while Cape beaches are littered with crumbling castles built by future geometry-class failures, in Revere, the sandsculpting festival produced towering works, including a monument to Fenway Park complete with reliefs of retired players. Time had eroded Jackie Robinson’s nose, but he still stared out, majestic as the sphinx.

We spread our blanket by a volleyball tournament sponsored by El Planeta, and Latin dance hits added a backing track to our view of the ocean. The waves rolled in carrying a plastic bag or two, but the sand, I assure you, was free of biological waste. The ideas expressed on that sand, however, weren’t always so pristine.

“Are you guys Spanish?” inquired a paunchy Caucasian woman, her glistening sweat allowing her Patriots tattoo to really pop in the sunlight. We said we weren’t. “Good,” she replied. “No… I mean, I’m not alone now.” She was soon thereafter.

Revere Beach will throw you in the deep end of diversity, but it’s not merely a matter of nationality. Tattoos came in greater variation than skin tones. The removal of a shirt reveals more than the vanilla tramp stamp, as backs provided canvases for massive angel wings or a mural of DC Comics’ greatest heroes. Men’s bathing suits stretched from gym shorts to board shorts to vacuum-sealed boy shorts. A volleyball referee worked a Speedo so small it could, appropriately, be carried in a coin purse, with room left over for T fare.

An idiosyncrasy we discovered while walking to a boardwalk bar was that you’re just as likely to find sunbathers across the street from the beach as you are on the shore. Camped out by a public restroom were four graying men, their hides slowly curing, their chairs facing away from the water. From their conversation—”I rolled in from Lowell at 1:45.” “Yeah, I woke up on my coach at 9:30 this morning.”—it was clear they were either loving retirement or continuing down a career path one wouldn’t deem traditional.

It was at the Shipwreck Lounge that Revere Beach truly seduced me. There were ’70s tunes, racing forms, snapshots of the owner with celebrities (Pacino, Pesci, various Sopranos, Gene Wilder), and not one but two old-timers with canes. It’s everything I could want, complete with a Saturday buffet. In the parking lot, there was a man with a grill stacked with meats and a bikini calendar full of reminders. He served me an Italian sausage and pointed to the condiments. “You want mustard or any of this crap?” I had to restrain myself from hugging him.

An hour later, we stopped at a different bar. As I ordered, a man with a shattered incisor walked up and spun a yarn. Turns out he’d had a vodka-fueled trip to Foxwoods with some Polish gangsters, one of whom found out the hard way he has an allergy to amaretto. Then, studying us with pupils the size of pinheads, he announced he was going to play us a song. Before we left, I overheard him talking to the jukebox about Vladimir Putin.

Seems things turn slightly stranger as the shadows grow long on Revere Beach. Taking one last stroll down the boardwalk, we passed a man walking an iguana and a woman pushing a dog in a baby carriage. We witnessed happy moments, like a busload of dolled-up teens arriving for quinceañera photos. It’s just that they happened to unload in front of two men being patted down for drug possession.

So go to Revere Beach. According to today’s Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation’s hotline, the water’s fine. But consider packing up before the sun goes down.

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Nick & Choose 49: Short Order Cook

Published June, 2012

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Trial by Fryer
Trying a slice of another life

This isn’t a column telling you to abandon your dreams. This is just a reminder that sometimes your dreams are dumb.

We all need hopes and aspirations. They guide us toward fulfillment. Without goals, we lose sight of the path ahead, and that forces us to look inward to ask the most terrifying question: What am I doing with my life? To cope with the stress, we spoon up some ice cream, or we visit our favorite restaurant. We experience joy through food, and sometimes we allow a meal to calm our existential crisis. This is how foodies are born. Humans are genetically designed to love eating. If you’ve taken the extra step to give that love a nickname, you need a secondary passion.

Then there’s the final step, the culinary bridge too far: professional cooking. The world needs chefs, of course, so I don’t mean to be haughty. Most of us have shared the same vocational fantasy, after all. But unless you’re reading this column during your summer vacation, it’s too late to find the level of success you’re imagining. Let me remind you where the fantasy begins, should you try to make it a reality.

It’s June 21, the first full day of summer. The mercury at Logan Airport reads 96 degrees, a record-breaking high. Where you want to be is in a bar, bathed in darkness and refrigerated air, your insides cooled by icy beer. Where you don’t want to be is by that bar’s oven.

Jason Santana, the chef at Silvertone Bar & Grill, has graciously allowed me into his kitchen to be low man on the totem pole. In return, I’ve promised not to be a liability, both in terms of efficiency and legality.

At 5 pm, Santana has me chopping mirepoix for the shepherd’s pie. I took a knife-skills class once, and ever since, I’ve been a little cocky about my ability to dice an onion. But a work environment is eons from the safe confines of an adult education center. It’s 115 degrees in the kitchen, a delightful sensation compared to the evaluating gaze of my new boss. Ten minutes in and I’ve got a blister developing on my index finger and $1.50 worth of vegetables sunk into the holes of the kitchen mat. Santana decides I should assemble kebabs. I immediately stab my blister with a wooden skewer.

As service starts, I move to the grill, where my guide is Ronabel Freitas, a young man affectionately nicknamed “Taco Bell.” The estimable Mr. Freitas broke his arm a while back. Five replacements in a row worked one shift and never came back for another. He’s a full assembly line under a single hairnet.

Freitas stuck with the one-and-done approach to mentoring. He’d show me a recipe, and I was expected to execute. In the beginning, this set a flame under my nerves. Chicken wings require little more than nine minutes in hot oil, but I still found myself pacing around the fryer like an expectant father in a waiting room.

As the hours passed, I burned my knuckle, singed my arm hair and gradually developed some confidence. It got so I could handle four dishes at once without sweat and tears leaking into the Bolognese. I also learned the beauty of well-done steak. To a foodie, if you order meat well-done you’re a heathen. As a cook, you were my new best friend, as you gave me an order I didn’t have to think about. “If it doesn’t taste like cardboard, they’ll send it back,” Santana advised. To my happy customers, I hope you enjoyed your meal as much as I enjoyed desecrating it.

As the shift ended at 11 pm, I received the kitchen seal of approval: “Not bad for a white guy.” Of course, the night was slow, with only about 90 covers in a restaurant that regularly clears 300. I was well-rested, while Santana had been working since 7 am, a 16-hour day not outside his normal routine. A career in the kitchen demands a genuine appetite for the grind. Just one night on the job had me sweaty, dirty, greasy and satisfied. But not wholly fulfilled. (Oddly, I didn’t feel hungry afterward.)

Cooking is a profession of inventiveness, in which people should be inspired to create. I remain happy to eat the results of their labor. The food stains, however, belong on my desk, a place where I can express myself better.

Nick & Choose 47: Golf Cheats

Published April 28, 2012

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Danger Ahead

Golf, the Unfair Way
Testing out cheats in a gentleman’s game

I used to take golf seriously. I practiced. I had my swing analyzed. I spent one summer as a groundskeeper at a fancy golf course, waking at 5 am to rake sand traps. I might have returned the following year had the offer not been rescinded for breaking two mowers and stunt-driving the carts. It was around that time that I revised my attitude toward the game.

To excel at golf requires terrific amounts of money and time spent brandishing a deadly weapon while strangers critique your hip alignment. On the other hand, accepting mediocrity frees you from that pressure and from ever evolving into the sort of person who keeps a foam putting green in his office. Abandon the pipe dream of consistent performance and the good walk spoiled becomes the more satisfying Sunday drive, perhaps with a cold beer in the cup holder. My game transformed once I embraced the life of the duffer. However, I understood if I ever wanted to beat anyone decent, I’d have to become a cheater.

Cheating is woven into the fabric of golf. The only players who don’t scribble the odd numerical fib on the scorecard are the ones who occasionally sign giant novelty checks. If your opponent hooks a drive into a nearby elm, it’s unseemly not to grant a mulligan. There are now technological aids for bending the rules, but while no one would blink if you pulled the latest titanium, offset, adjustable driver from your bag, if you rest your ball on anything other than an antiquated splinter of wood, eyebrows will rise.

Before my first round of the year, I picked up three packs of newfangled tees. There was the Brush T ($8), which gives the appearance that you’re prepping your Titleist for a shave, and the 4 Yards More ($7) and Pride Professional Offset ($6), both of which feature small prongs that hold your ball aloft like a precious jewel. The idea is to provide more distance through less friction, and while there may have been appreciable length added to my drives, it was only serving to deposit my ball further into the woods. Plus, when you shoot a 57 on the front nine, doing so with the aid of science only increases the embarrassment.

While silly, the USGA-approved tees didn’t technically count as cheats, so on the back nine I went old-school. It’s a hustler’s trick to apply a lubricant like Vaseline or spit onto the driver face, as it’s supposed to reduce spin on the ball, turning your brutal slice into something that may actually see the fairway. Before teeing off, I smeared ChapStick on my 3-wood like I was greasing a baking pan. The tactic showed modest results. Yet the tacky petroleum also clearly showed how poorly I was striking the ball, as viscous, lip-balm kisses popped up around the face’s heel and toe. The evidence revealed my lack of skill, but I was nonetheless winning the game, largely due to the crafty strategy of playing friends whose golf talents are (pardon the phrase) subpar.

A week later I faced a steeper challenge: a seasoned player who would display no mercy—my girlfriend. Wanting to up my fraudulent game, I went on the Internet for the kind of equipment not sold at reputable retailers. First there were the Intech Anti-Slice tees ($5 for five), which cup the ball like a jai alai stick to create a launching pad for straight drives. The thin plastic backings only last a single swing, so I waited until the seventh hole, the course’s most difficult, before I planted one into the tee box. After I launched a rocket down the fairway, a nearby, skilled, golfer asked, “Who said cheaters never prosper?”

Less successful were the Polara Ultimate Straight XS Self Correcting Golf Balls ($35 for 12). With a specialized dimple pattern, the ball is designed to self-correct in the air, reducing the likelihood of a hook and slice. It also feels like you’re spanking a rock, and the Polara will often crash like an asteroid yards in front of your target. After thumping one for most of the front nine I found myself three strokes back, so I put it away (by unintentionally shanking it into the bushes).

I also stopped cheating. The schemes became too much to think about: which ball, which tee, which ChapStick was safe to use on my lips. The loss of authenticity is disheartening, as you never know if a good shot would’ve flown as true without the autopilot. Plus, losing with unfair advantages means you really stink, so cheating adds pressure, and pressure is what I decided to drop from my game years ago.

Unshackled from my chicanery, I actually won the back nine. It was a victory both minor and ignoble, but it was genuine. For the duffer, it’s better to be bad with no apologies than triumphant with transgressions.

Nick & Choose 46: Bachelor Parties

Published March 28, 2012

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Bachelor Party

Binge Benefits
How to party your way to enlightenment

My first wave of bachelor parties arrived in my mid-20s. Back then I was impulsive, unattached and able to kick a hangover with a breath of fresh air and a greasy breakfast. Wet behind the ears and still imbued with collegiate curiosity, I gathered life lessons from the haze. For example: Five beers fit inside a Frisbee, never use a blow-up doll as a pillow, and if you give a stripper permission to whip you with a belt, you’ll both walk away scarred.

A second wave of bachelor parties arrived in my early 30s—three in a row this month, in fact. Years ago, I would’ve met this with breathless anticipation, but now the prospect gave me night sweats. The first one was a Florida bender attended by my rowdiest pals. After considering my obligations to my career, my finances, my loved ones and my health, I decided to skip it. I realized I’d made the adult decision when a friend came back with a broken elbow—it hung purple and distended like a waterlogged eggplant. As the two of us drove up to Montreal for party number two, I was already thinking of how to best dodge a hangover for the return trip. Maturity, it seemed, had finally, sadly arrived. But then we spent half the drive crafting dirty texts for our iPhones to read aloud, so I didn’t worry too much.

I like to believe that I remain open to life’s teachings even in its debauched moments. During our Montreal excursion, we smoked cigars and discussed Apple’s IPO. We debated the situation in Syria. And, while socializing in the hotel before a classy steak dinner, we spent an hour and a half talking about poop. One guy later said it was the most fun he had all weekend. Another agreed. The lesson: While you may now be an inner curmudgeon, you’ve still got your inner three-year-old.

It was a younger crowd, and I admit to fleeting moments of feeling superior, the height of my arrogance arriving after someone suggested that, given my tenuous likeness, I be introduced around the bar as Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine. No matter how many women laughed in my face, it was OK because “it’s a numbers game, man.” This spurred another beer order and the discovery that while circumstances may lead you to climb on a high horse, you can make that nag drink as much as you want. But a sense of superiority fades when you’re passed out on the floor.

Ironically, the third weekend of debauchery marked a very adult turn. I’d known the bachelor for almost 14 years, and while I normally can’t even plan a trip to the refrigerator in advance, I found myself tasked with arranging the evening’s transportation, making reservations and writing down-payment checks for our lodging. Suddenly, a binge had turned into an administrative job.

For our big night out, we wanted our nerdy bachelor to wear a costume that both humiliated him and broadcast his true character to the outside world. After bandying ideas around, I had a flash: Batman. It turned out to be the perfect choice, because when we gave him the costume he dropped his pants to reveal the pattern on his underwear: Batman. Apparently, the adage used by newlyweds holds true for old friends: When you know, you know.

Of course, the price for that sort of insight is experience and, ultimately, adulthood. These are the things you reflect on when it’s 9 am, and you’re on your hands and knees scrubbing stripper heel marks from a hardwood floor. But you’re not alone in having to grow up. With each friend who gets married, the gang comes together to mark the passage. A bachelor party is a happy rebellion, a brief moment of uncivilized, futile resistance against change. And when the ritual generates a headache that could crack a skull like the crust of a crème brûlée, you’re all but praying for the passage of time. 

Nick & Choose 38: Food Challenge

Published July 27, 2011

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Glutton, Punished
Nick triple-dog dares you to beat his record.

Food challenges hold a peculiar allure. Events like the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest or shows like Man v. Food have earned real followings, and as they require physical exertion and stamina, parallels can be made to traditional sport. But perhaps the biggest difference, among many, is that sports can inspire the onlooker. A child watches David Ortiz smash a homer and vows to become a ballplayer. No one watches a man ingurgitate a wheelbarrow full of pulled pork and thinks, one day, that’s going to be me.

Yet there I was, staring at the Tasty Burger Challenge. On the menu, it reads like a provocation: three half-pound hot dogs topped with a split cheeseburger, chili, cheese sauce and bacon, served on a sub roll. Thinking of it as a schoolyard dare may be the key to understanding why someone would choose to pack their esophagus like a musket. If someone calls you a chicken, sometimes the only proper recourse is to eat a family-size bucket of extra-crispy.

Knowing I’d need help, I turned to Belmont native and competitive eater Crazy Legs Conti. The record holder in such prestigious categories as beef brisket and Twinkies, Conti told me to eat the toppings first in order to save my strength for the frankfurter Cerberus. But what about chugging water beforehand to stretch my stomach? “Don’t chug anything except mental awesomeness,” said my seasoned guide. “Maybe listen to some pump-up music. Something good, like Air Supply or early Menudo.”

Of course, I’d need a partner, someone to share in the pain and potential glory. Thankfully, I know many men with voracious appetites. Barrel-chested heroes who can destroy a hoagie, sub or grinder without pausing to belch. Regretfully, they were all out of town.

So on the big day, I arrived at Tasty Burger with my girlfriend, Susan, a compact young blonde annoyed at not having been considered my first option. I’d paid for my gaffe with a barrage of trash talk, but once we learned that no woman has ever completed the challenge, we came to an understanding. We would support each other through this test, and I would witness her smashing chili-covered meat into her face and still find her attractive.

Contenders have one hour to complete the challenge. Once the timer begins, things progress in a gaseous haze, but these are moments of clarity I’ve been able to scrape together.

HOT DOG #1: As tracks from the Rocky IV soundtrack hit your ears (part of chef Greg Weinstock’s special challenge mix), your mind begins to open to the notion of beating Matthew Hummel’s record of 17 minutes, 31 seconds. Your empty stomach is already on board. And, initially, your tongue raises no protest. When you’re facing 4.5 pounds of food, flavor is a vital factor, and Tasty Burger delivers. First one down in eight minutes.

HOT DOG #2: Crazy Legs’ advice helped my speed, but his plan was abandoned out of necessity halfway through round two. The frank’s flavor, at first meaty, turns salty, then altogether noxious. Chili, bread, lashings of hot sauce, they were all mixed in to cloak the flavor. Second down in 17 minutes.

HOT DOG #3: Susan hit a food wall. Sitting by the corpses of her massacred wieners, I entered a horrible fever-dream. Paying for my sinful gluttony, the last devil dog seemed to extend into infinity. Swallowing turned to choking down, and with each bite, Satan taunted me with the forcemeat’s tumescence. Gathering my strength, I knew that, like Orpheus and Eurydice in their jaunt through the underworld, Susan and I would make it through together as long as I didn’t look back. Finished in 58 minutes, four seconds.

Your body has a lot of questions after a victorious food challenge. The most pressing is, “When can I throw up?” The calorie count is of course a morbid curiosity, but it’s the salt that gets you. Just one hot dog holds about 1,800 milligrams of sodium. I wasn’t hungry for two days after, but I’ve never been thirstier.

It’s achieving this kind of hideous benchmark that makes the experience worthwhile. I’m only the fifth person to complete the Tasty Burger Challenge, and that does give me some level of pride. More importantly, I know that, should my heart pop now or I live the extra 60 years I have planned, I will never eat a bigger, unhealthier meal. I extended myself and found one of my life’s boundaries. It’s not a first kiss or a graduation, but it’s a place I’ve seen and can now never return to, and I’m richer, and slightly fatter, for the experience.

Nick & Choose 22: Le Whif

Published March 31, 2010

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A Real Drag
There’s a sucker born every minute.

Ideas good in theory: strip clubs, socialism, pizza bagels. In practice, these things never live up to their imagined potential. For the moment, breathable food can be added to the list.

Le Whif is an invention from Harvard biomedical engineering professor David Edwards. As the founder of both Labogroup and the Foodlab at Le Laboratoire in Paris, Edwards and his team have created inventions like Andrea, an air purification system using houseplants; the Pumpkin, a specialized container to aid water transportation in the developing world; and a cylinder of inhalable chocolate, named after an effete, Pink Panther villain.

The idea behind Le Whif is to provide chocolate without the calories. Each ChapStick-shaped inhaler contains eight to 10 puffs. A quick drag covers your taste buds with an organic chocolate cloud. Not a chocoholic but a product tester with an oral fixation, I grabbed handfuls of all three flavors and handed them out to coworkers and friends for a week of experimentation.

The most common response upon encountering Le Whif is one of confusion. “It looks like some drug,” said Amanda, our assistant editor. “If you saw me doing this, you’d be like, that girl’s f***ed up.” Giving her a raspberry Whif and a tutorial only increased the unease. Pull out this. Suck on that. It was all very Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

The best response to the first hit came from our intern Tom. After a burst of mint chocolate, his eyes shot open like he’d been goosed. As his blush faded, he managed a weak, “It kinda tastes like chocolate.”

For me, that was the problem. I found the taste weak. Yet at the same time, while the granules are too big to enter the lungs, each pull felt like I was battering my uvula and tonsils with a blustery Nestlé gale. Nearly all my huffs were followed by coughs. Either I possess the lung power of a bottlenose dolphin, or, despite years of practice, I was screwing up the process of breathing.

“It takes some time to learn the technique,” said LaboGroup COO Tom Hadfield. “We equate it to learning how to use chopsticks.” (For the record, I can’t use chopsticks without getting hand cramps and soy sauce on my shirt.) Calling from London and masking his pity behind an English accent, Hadfield explained that enjoying Le Whif requires just “a gentle kiss.” This is a hard concept to follow when candy is involved. If the tubes had cargo-bay doors, I would’ve dumped their payloads into my mouth like I was fighting an oral forest fire.

That technique would’ve flown in the face of Le Whif’s primary selling point. Besides offering portability, Hadfield claims that the product provides efficient consumption. Consider that one Hershey’s Kiss contains 200 calories, and while it delivers taste, only a few grams of all that fat and sugar is actually coating your tongue. With Le Whif, a soft blanketing of flavor nets you less than a single calorie.

“Yeah, but chocolate melts in your mouth,” contended my friend Derek, after an unenthusiastic toke. And surely, the sensuousness of eating is absent. Le Whif would also be hard-pressed to win my girlfriend’s $2.50. “If there was some other thing to it besides the chalky chocolate, maybe. It needs some kind of bonus.”

Ahead of the game, the FoodLab has created coffee Le Whif, with each tube containing the caffeine equivalent of a shot of espresso. Already in demand after a limited run, I couldn’t get my hands on any, which may be good, because as a caffeine junkie, it’s possible my mouth isn’t the only orifice I would have used to ingest it.

“We’re working on new flavors,” Hadfield assured. “In the future, it’s conceivable you could breathe almost any food, so maybe you’ll be breathing a three-course meal.”

But there’s competition in the cutthroat world of aerosol science. Hometown rival Compellis Pharmaceuticals is now working on a nasal spray designed to curb the appetite by temporarily altering one’s sense of smell.

Faced with a tube packed with powdered au poivre, I might not need the help.

Nick & Choose 12: Women’s Football

Published May 27, 2009

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Hail Marys
Nick tackles women’s football

Speaking for men, I’ve always felt the core problem with watching women’s sports is that they seem like the cheap alternative to a more popular product. It’s a Hydrox, when I’d rather just have an Oreo. Please notice that (a) I didn’t disparage women’s sports, and (b) I dragged my entire sex into this column. So if the whole cookie analogy was offensive, yell at the nearest man, not the messenger.

It’s not a knock on talent. I know I couldn’t drive past Heather Mitts if she hopped on one leg and let me use my hands. I know Candace Parker would humiliate me on a basketball court, and not because she’s female, but because she can dunk and would do so on my face. But I know Kevin Garnett could do the same to her. That’s just the way it is.

Unlike soccer and basketball, football seems to exist outside the concept of equality as an activity that’s uniquely male, like Civil War reenactments, or farting. Women playing tackle football comes up every few years when a high-school girl petitions to play with the boys, or when the Lingerie Football League unleashes a media blitz. (Don’t forget the New England Euphoria home opener against the Miami Caliente on Oct. 2!)

Even that sentence looks ridiculous, never mind the image of wild bikini fury at the 50-yard line, but it represents all I knew about women’s professional football until earlier this month. Somehow, the Independent Women’s Football League, 1,600 women strong, has been off my radar. Founded in 2000, the IWFL has 41 teams spread across the country, from the Southern Maine Rebels to the Southern California Breakers. Our local Tier I team, the Boston Militia, plays at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville, and on May 16, I went to see the action.

For another point of view, I brought a woman with me. Her initial enthusiasm was underwhelming. “I think it’ll be as entertaining as the NFL,” she predicted. “And I don’t even like the NFL.” In fairness, she’s from Detroit, and they haven’t had many reasons to be excited about football lately.

With a program in hand, I scanned the names to see who sounded hot. (Not because I’m sexist, but because I’m childish.) What I found was every Ginger Snow and Roxy English was counterbalanced with a name seemingly focus-grouped for football. Nikita Payne? Mia Brickhouse? Mia Brickhouse sounds like a sentient being sent from the future to destroy football as we know it.

She’s actually really good, too. The whole team is, a fact immediately made clear when the Militia ran back the opening kick-off before Linkin Park had faded from the sound system. They quickly ran up the score to 19-0, at which point they faked the extra point and went for two, a deliciously diabolical tactic reminiscent of the 2007 Patriots. The Militia bring the pain on both sides of the ball, though, eventually shutting out the Philadelphia Firebirds 60-0.

With the local men’s teams losing their grip on dominance, it’s fun to watch a hometown squad massacre somebody again. But the real payoff is that these women are actually from your hometown. Wide out Ginger Snow is from Boston. Quarterback Allison Cahill, whom my companion called “a little lamb” but who throws more like a lady Doug Flutie, is from Uxbridge. And the Brickhouse family was cheering in the stands, no doubt thrilled to be beamed back from Rutland, post-Judgement Day.

With the uniforms on, you’re not hyperaware that the Militia is a women’s football team. They run fade routes, bells get rung and there was even a T.O.-esque excessive celebration penalty. “They’re clearly skilled, they clearly practice, but the most amazing thing is that they clearly do this just because they love football,” marveled my companion, before adding, “But they should have male cheerleaders.”

I don’t think I’d have the balls for the job.