“It’s the Day of the Show Ya’ll”
Waiting for Guffman is one of my favorite movies, and that line is one of the best lines in the whole film. Parker Posey stressing of the importance of the day, matched with her confusion of how other people could possibly not give the day the respect it deserves, sums up perfectly how I feel on major game days.
The Super Bowl was no different.
Woke up that morning already shaking. There was a fight outside our hotel room. Apparently there was some sort of burglary or something. At first I couldn’t tell if people were just loud due to their excitement or if there was an actual problem. Alex got the scoop, as he usually does, on his morning smoke break. He talked well with the locals.
There was an odd quietness about the room, as we all went through our own pregame rituals. Felt like carrying the weight of the world while digging through my suitcase for my trusty Aaron Rodgers jersey. Alex informed us that he was the craziest of the bunch and decided that he wanted to watch the game alone, in the Rodeway Inn, in Lewisville, Texas. At first I was saddened by the loss of my road warrior buddy for the game. Then excited, YES, Brian Carriveau all to myself? Then I completely understood it. Before leaving for Dallas, SB joked that he could totally see me, sitting in the hotel with my little game day set up, chatting it up on the live blog. But unlike Alex, I was throwing caution to the wind on this one. I wanted a different experience for the game. I did however make him promise me to drape my Packers blanket over the back of his chair. Superstitions die hard.
Then there’s the Game Day make up. I’m sure none of my male travel buddies noticed, but all week I had been wearing different combinations and looks using ONLY green and gold/yellow, but on Super Bowl Sunday I layered my many colors of green and yellow and gold and put the team on my makeup back.
Once we were all ready, we just sat there. Waiting. A nervous wait. Should we go? Should we talk about the game? Maybe we should all just sit in different corners in the fetal position and shake until kick off.
Then Brian decided to post that the Steelers were going to win, and the room was filled with the sound of my heart breaking. Alex and I both quickly left the scene to call back home. Not sure how Alex’s call went, but mine involved A LOT of pacing, saying, “so…yeah”, and nervous chatter. SB tried to calm me down promising that the Packers would win by a TD. And I made the prediction that the Packers would try to run it only 10 times. Then I cried some nervous tears, and went back inside.
Shortly after we all calmed down from the craziness that was Brian’s pick, Brian and I decided to head on over to Vernon’s which was a very good idea, once out of the hotel room, my nerves calmed down a lot. Or maybe it was the half a Valium…either way, I was feeling better.
Vernon’s is not near the stadium. Looking back maybe it would have been better for Brian and me to find a bar near the game, and perhaps a place where we could sit inside, but Vernon’s was a Packers bar, and I wanted to be around Packers people. (I know MM and TT would agree with me on that one).
When we arrived we found out that no, we can NOT go inside. Two fire marshals stood about 20 feet from the door, waiting to bust the place on a fire code violation. As it was sunny and beautiful at this point, I wasn’t worried. Brian, clearly smarter than I am, realized right away that when the sun goes away it gets colder out.
I loved Vernon’s though. Giant tent, filled with brats, beer, Packers fans and two projection screens. Dave Robinson was there signing copies of his book, and a nice young man in a Brent Favre shirt came up to us to share the joke; just in case we were unaware of it.
The next person to great us asked if we wanted anything to drink. We were standing next to a tub of beer, so Brian handed her some money and we thought the beers would be handed right back. Apparently this woman was an actual waitress and went to the bar for our beers while we stood money-less and drink-less next to the tub. At some point, Brian leaned over and said, “I hope she comes back.”
In the tent at Vernon’s there were many long tables lined up, most of them had already been claimed. Over heard someone say that they had arrived at 10 and the inside was already packed. Our attempts to arrive early at one paled in comparison. Vernon’s also had neat rows of folding chairs set up outside the tent; we grabbed two and surveyed the scene.
Brian alerted me to the whole “it will get colder later” situation; I started to feel bad for the girl in the tube top and then realized he was talking about us, and we decided to go befriend some people with tables under the tent.
At our first table, near the center of the tent we met a nice man, who really appreciated the magnet I gave him. Realizing we were too far away from the screen, Brian started a search for new friends.
At our second table we met a lovely couple. The wife was decked out in all sorts of Packers gear and snorted a LOT when she laughed. She was very nice, but told us that prior to this week she wouldn’t have been able to point out Bart Starr if he passed her on the street. Despite this, I still gave her a magnet.
It was at this point the real Mr. Carriveau came out. The fan. Worried about our sight lines, people’s heads getting in the way of the game, and the impending cold, Brian was not pleased with this table. I believe the phrase was “I’m real particular about how I watch the game” was uttered. He was telling this to a girl walking around with a 14 year old glove and a 30+ year old mini helmet because god forbid, they miss a game. I understood.
There were two options. Leave and find some place inside. Or two, find a way to get front row seats by the heater. At this point, my flash of brilliance came and I suggested Brian flash his pretty media pass and see what kind of magic could happen.
Problem solved. We said good bye to the snorter and formed a row of seats directly in front of both the TV and the heater. Now, when I say heater, I mean tiny electrical unit fit to heat a one car garage, blasting semi-warm air into a large, open tent. Just so we’re all clear.
By now it was about two and a half hours before kickoff; we were already starting to get cold. Dick Chang and his gang of buddies joined us, bringing with them the most important thing, a blanket. So we sat there. And then we sat there some more. I never realized how incredibly long it takes for the Super Bowl to start. Probably because I’m usually at a party and talking and drinking away pregame. But this game, we were focused, glued to our cold seats, and forced to watch the strange interview that was O’Reily and Obama. I pinched myself and took a quick look around. This was supposed to be football right?
Eventually though actual game stuff started. We all stood for the national anthem, if I can call it that. I think we stood so that we could have a good view of all the confused faces in the tent. And then it started.
Normally I’m pretty ritualistic when it comes to watching the game. The helmet has to be tilted just right, as does the glove. I also have to hold my beer on big defensive plays and drink during crucial third downs. NONE of this happened. First off, there was no table for the mini helmet. Second, I actually wore the glove; it was that cold. And third it was simply too cold to drink.
I tried to make a quick bathroom run in the middle of a Packers drive, only to find that the line for the port-a-potties was quick long. I ended up missing the first Packers touch down. My mother used to have a rule, if you were away from the TV and something good happened, you had to stay there. If something bad happened, you had to return immediately. I sat (well hovered) there in the port-a-potty (which lets just be honest here, is NOT fun in the daylight) and hoped my mother would understand; I could not stay where I was.
Returned to my seat in time to see the great Nick Collins interception. We all stood up and cheered, hugging both Dick Chang and Brian. And it felt like everyone in the tent was looking around in awe. This was really happening. It was at this moment, I knew we’d win. I’m not saying I’m a genius, and trust me I was scared later. But the joy, the elation that took over that tent, I knew that the team, that the football gods would not be taking this away.
Brian missed the next touchdown, the one over the middle to Greg Jennings, also due to a bathroom run. When he returned we decided no more beer. We were NOT missing this game. I however at first suggested that during the Packers next drive Dick Chang should make a bathroom run; it seemed to be working.
I posted this video of the tent celebrating after the Jennings touch down.
By this point, every inch of me was cold. Although I will say that the cold of being 0-0 is different from the cold being up 21-3. I wrapped that blanket around me and moved only when the Packers scored. Many people around me were doing the same. I’ve only been to a regular season game at Lambeau once, and while nothing can really compare to it, the feeling inside Vernon’s tent came close.
I’m generally quite calm during the games; I’ve learned to be after breaking many things during the 1990’s. I also was the one my mother put in charge of talking everyone off the ledge during difficult games. So as the score got closer, I stayed calm. Brian however does not stay as calm. Anyone who knows him, knows that he doesn’t get Corey Behnke type excited or stressed a lot (at least I don’t think he does), but man when the Steelers scored that last TD AND got the two point conversion, Brian was one tense man.
Best part about watching the game with Brian: the number of times he said Hippo defense.
The half time show was interesting. Interesting as the people at Vernon’s really liked it. One larger man in a t-shirt stood throughout the whole thing, dancing and singing along. I liked him.
As the game wore on, the group would chant GO PACK GO and defense whenever needed. I liked these people, as I tend to chant alone in my living room for every game as well.
The game felt surreal. Players going down (which of course, I quickly checked the live blog to find updates on during the half time show). Bishop, Peprah and Zombo flying to the ball (well except for that Big Ben run when Zombo ran about as fast as Alex). Jarrett BUSH getting an interception! I felt like I was watching the game in my own little world but also with a bunch of people; it felt almost dream like. After every score, or int, or basically any good play, everyone would stand up and cheer and hug random strangers.
When the Steelers fourth down pass fell to the ground, Brian and I simply turned to each other, smiling ear to ear. The place erupted in cheers, and I think the bottom of my feet still hurt from all the jumping. I let Dick Chang know that the bottom of his blanket was not very dirty, he couldn’t have cared less; The Packers won the Super Bowl.
I got misty eyed, and honestly thought I would cry more. One woman was literally sobbing at one of the front tables. As I write this, a warm happy feeling is coming over me and it’s the best feeling in the world.
After watching the celebration, Brian and I bid farewell to Dick Chang opting not to head toward the stadium and party it up – later I would learn, this was probably a great decision (now THERE’s a teaser!!).
After being in the car for about five minutes, Brian turned to me and said, “I was wrong.” Yes, yes you were.
When we got back to the room, Alex was the happiest I have ever seen him, and on the phone with Cheesehead Radio. He passed the phone to me and I lacked the ability to form any coherent thoughts. Brian started laughing at me and I’m sure C.D., John and any listeners thought I was drunk. Drunk on happiness probably.
Brian and I shared our joy over a beer, Alex drank a Cherry Coke and again the room fell quiet. This time however, there was no anxiety in the air, just pure joy. We laid in our respective beds (and Alex on the floor) and watched highlights and smiled. The Lombardi trophy was coming home.
Oh, and Brian was wrong.
You might think the story ends here, but you my friend would be mistaken. Monday provided an excellent adventure around Dallas. Stay tuned.