Let's hope the Giants have prepared as carefully for Sunday's NFC Championship Game as Melissa Bernstein of Woodmere.
The lifelong Giants fan and season-ticket holder will make sure Annie, her 11-year-old West Highland terrier, is wearing her doggy Giants T-shirt. Bernstein's nails, and those of her daughters, Sarah and Rachel, visiting from college, will be painted Giants blue.
"The nail polish is a new tradition for this series," Bernstein said Thursday before she settled in for a fresh paint job at a Woodmere salon.
When the game is on, family members will be in their assigned places: husband Alan in a club chair, the daughters on the couch with Annie, and Bernstein seated on the floor, ready to scramble.
During a close early-season game, she got so tense she retreated to another room to lie down.
"I could hear the TV and the Giants were coming back. I was afraid to get out of bed," she said. "They won. And now whenever they [the Giants] fall behind, they yell at me: 'Ma! Get into bed!' "
Bernstein is among the many Giants fans across Long Island gearing up for what they hope will be the team's next-to-last game of the season with hope, excitement and lots and lots of superstitions.
Jesse Garcia, who heads the Brookhaven Republican Party, had two friends over to his Ridge home to watch the Giants-Jets game on Christmas Eve, and the Giants won. He has had the same two friends back for the final game of the season and the first two playoff games, and he's afraid it will jinx the team if they don't show up Sunday.
"I keep luring them back with premium Scotch, premium beer and munchies," Garcia said. "To lure them back this week, the price will be steak."
Garcia refused to speculate what new price his friends -- Thomas Kilmartin of Ridge and Scott Kravitz of Port Jefferson Station -- might extract to come over Feb. 5 if the Giants reach the Super Bowl. "One game at a time," he said.
Albert Adranga, 43, of Commack, was facing a game-day decision. He'd put Giants magnets on the door of his garage on Romeo Lane, and Giants signs in the windows before last week's win, just to mess with his neighbors. "I've got Jets fans on both sides of me," he said. "And a Cowboys fan across the street."
But what about a Giants flag? Adranga was torn as he stared at one Thursday at the Modell's Sporting Goods store on Jericho Turnpike. "The thing I'm superstitious about is going too far with the flag," he said. He finally left, saying he would decide after huddling with his family.
Justin Dolce, 30, an instructor at Farmingdale State College, will watch the game at home with his father.
"I'll have my blue underwear that I wear for luck, and I have a Giants shirt from 2007 (the last season the Giants won the Super Bowl) that I haven't washed since," Dolce said.
Jerry Damadeo, of Deer Park, will turn 83 in the coming week and is almost giddy when he talks about the Giants making another Super Bowl run.
"Two weeks ago, when they beat Dallas, I went over to Miller's [Ale House] and I'm hollering: 'Champagne for everyone!' I didn't even have a dollar in my pocket. I'm not supposed to be drinking. I got a bad heart. I have cancer in my throat. I was doing shots. I said [to wife]: 'Marie. This is my life.' "
He fell in love with the play of wide receiver Victor Cruz this year, has worn Cruz's No. 80 every day for the past three weeks, and even mimics the Cruz salsa touchdown dance.
Damadeo said he'd watch the game Sunday at his son's house in Deer Park. The folks at Miller's can expect another visit if the Giants win, he said, and perhaps an 83-year-old's version of the salsa.