There are many reasons i should not be mayor of a major city, like my tendency--in even minor tense situations--to overuse the Bat-Signal. But I would be great at the betting part. Even though mayor is the only job besides Fed chairman in which idiotic gambling is encouraged, mayors don't take it seriously enough. Every year, the mayors of the teams competing in the Super Bowl make some lame bet like sending local delicacies. That's not how you bet on football. That's how you bet on yoga. The Super Bowl requires a mayors' bet with trash-talking, end-zone taunting and wardrobe malfunctions.
So to fix the one remaining problem with professional football, I called the Baltimore and San Francisco mayors' offices ahead of the Super Bowl to offer my gambling consultation services. To my surprise, both were glad to have me help them devise a bet. The first idea I ran by Ian Brennan, press secretary for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, was that if the Ravens lost, Baltimore would legalize marijuana in honor of San Francisco. Brennan shot that down, saying that former Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke was vilified for wanting to legalize drugs. I thought it was a little hypocritical to take a moral stance on the pot thing when we were discussing illegal gambling.
My second suggestion to Brennan was that the losing city would have to name a street after a famous resident of the winning city: the Baltimore library would be right near John Steinbeck Street, Jack Kerouac Street or Jack London Street; San Francisco might have an Edgar Allan Poe Street, an Edgar Allan Poe Avenue or an Edgar Allan Poe Way. Brennan loved this idea, as did San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's press secretary, Christine Falvey. They were minutes away from finalizing the bet when Lee nixed it because he was afraid of inflaming a pre-existing city-council fight over renaming a street. The more I learn about politics, the more I can't believe we didn't go over the fiscal cliff.
Frustrated but invigorated by the knowledge that--based on the slowing frequency of return e-mails--I was becoming really annoying, I suggested to both cities that the losing mayor work on a building project for the homeless in the winning city, with the winning mayor serving as foreman. Brennan liked that it would benefit a charity but said, "We would have a tough time justifying sending the mayor to San Francisco. We have a budget issue." Maybe they wouldn't have a budget issue if they legalized marijuana, which would attract more decent writers.
But I appreciated that in this era of public-private partnerships, the mayors' bet needed to be like every other Super Bowl--related event: sponsored. So I made some calls and came back with Wonderful Pistachios Presents the 2013 Mayors' Bet, which would give $25,000 to the winning mayor's charity; the loser would have to wear a Wonderful Pistachio jacket and do the "Gangnam Style" dance. Unfortunately, that was out, since the mayor of Baltimore refused to do anything humiliating, which is ironic since she's the mayor of Baltimore.