Our Carolina Panthers were born on a football field eighteen years ago this week. While a football field makes for an obstetrics ward that is dirty, grassy, more sweaty and chaotic than usual, the Panthers have developed into strong daughters that any and all of us, as their parents, should be fond of -- even proud. Our little girls are all grown up now. Legal. The Panthers are our adult children. What does that mean for us? For them?
Being eighteen is pretty simple for the Panthers. They can vote. They can go to war. They can smoke. Most importantly, however, they can gamble and choose to star in their own pornography, as amateurs or professionals. That’s where things get sticky for us as parents. We still remember them as those cute little things in pig tails. We remember the first time we saw them after they kissed those Philadelphia kids behind the elementary school playground in 2004. God, the look on their faces. They looked like they were going to the Super Bowl. Now we’re starting to see pictures, though. We thought it was just going to be that one time we looked on their phone. They were for a friend, they said. I’m an adult. I can make my own decisions.
In spite of living under our roofs, they are growing into women that we don’t entirely understand anymore. This new guy they are hanging out with, Gettleman? We’re not really sure how to feel about him. Sure, he’s cleaned up nice the few times he showed up to the house to take our girls out. But, I don’t know. I’ve heard he’s taken them to the casino a couple of times. We can’t really yell at her for that. Our neighbors did find more pictures online that they say look like her, though. Dirty pictures. Is that his influence? Ours? I mean, hell, we told them they could do anything. We didn’t mean this.
Tomorrow is their play-date with those girls from Seattle. I say play-date when we know it’s more of a high school graduation party. The Seahawks have had their own spot of trouble lately and they are graduating a few years late, but they seem to be on the upswing. They’ve always been a bit tomboyish anyway. you expect that stuff from them. Hopefully they’ll play nice together and our girls will show up dressed nicely and speaking politely enough to not embarrass us.
Maybe the Panthers will do something silly to try and impress this Gettleman guy, I just hope they don’t stray too far from the standard we tried to raise them to. You know how catty girls can get, one sign of weakness and the Seahawks are going to eat us like a bear tearing into a flailing salmon. Coupled with this new guy and those pictures, it could get ugly fast. I know most parents are concerned over whether their kids are going to stay in-state to go to college instead of heading out west somewhere for their fun in the sun, but we could see our little girls taking a whole different turn into a world of ways that no father wants to see their daughter traveling.
Of course, if that happens, we’ll stick by them: Being a Panthers father cuts deeper than any plastic surgeon’s scalpel. Maybe that’s what it is. Maybe Gettleman is the surgeon in this metaphor, our Panthers are just any regular girl yet to be swept in any particular direction yet dreaming of joining the Top Cats, and we are the on-season-again off-season-again boyfriends that think the Panthers are beautiful just the way they are.
If I seem pensive it’s because we’ve gone too long without seeing real Panthers football. A lot of our fans have seemed this way, which has led to more than a few heated discussions, so we’ll end this with a quick poll to see if we can find the lowest common denominator of our fanbase: