I hear that sentence a lot. "So, you like the Packers..."
Like the pizza delivery guy who, while I was signing for the overpriced pie, noticed the two gnomes that sit on my stoop. "Ah, Packer fan? Yeah I sure was surprised by that game." I nod, "Me too. Me too."
Or the person who sells scrap parts for my work on eBay, when he walked in my office and saw Corey Behnke's "Die-hard" Packers face staring at him, "You like the Packers; have you heard of A.J. Hawk?"
Most recently it was today, while at the dentist. SB (fiance extraordinaire) was in the room next to me, and had apparently talked me up to the dentist. "So, you like the Packers..." the little mirror is nearing my mouth; this is not the time for me to be talking. He asked about the Pro Bowl, if Rodgers had played in it. And then he went into his surprise at the Packers last game. But he didn't think we should worry, Packers have a strong core, "Aaron Rodgers, A.J. Hawk and....what's that other guy?"
"Clay Matthews" I said, trying to avoid biting his finger.
"She knows all their names." He mentions to the very kind dental hygienist, who previously informed me that she was going to a funeral after my appointment and probably didn't care one way or another about this conversation.
I wanted to shout and scream. Of course I know Clay Matthews name. What person calls themselves a fan and doesn't know players, especially key players?
"They also have that running back."
"Grant or Starks" He never answered me; I can't be completely sure he didn't think that I wasn't talking about someone named Grant O'Starks.
Luckily, this is where the little suction cup thingy entered the picture. Otherwise, I might have had some words for the man who then announced that he also like the Steelers and goes to see them play frequently.
These, I have found, are normal reactions fot "outsiders" when they hear that I am a Packers fan. The other day a former UP resident walked in my office. They didn't ask me if I knew who A.J. Hawk was. With people on the inside we talk about our number on the ticket list, the stock sale, or franchise tags.
Maybe its the people in Cincinnati (I do blame the OSU connection for most of their random mentions and questions about Hawk), maybe its just the rest of the NFL, but as I sit in this time of mourning, I've thought a little bit about how I define myself.
For my entire life, I have been a Packer fan. By right of birth before I knew where my nose was, I was a Packer fan. I've always been just to the side of crazy (and not always on the same/sane side). But somewhere in the last couple of years things have changed. With the Internet, there are many more experts now then there were in the days when I used to clip newspaper articles and file them away. And with the surge of social networking I no longer feel like I live alone on crazy girl island; I have been stranded with hundreds of my closest, most crazy, fellow Packer fans.
So when someone outside of that circle, asks me about the Packers, I sometimes am caught off guard that they do not know of the island that I am on and the small country of similarly thinking people that inhabit it.
I've started nodding a lot. Yes, A.J. Hawk does make up the core. You, dentist man, are correct. You have to be. Because I don't know how to explain to you that you are wrong.
Sometimes I think it's the people in Cincinnati. Bless their hearts, some of them are beyond nice, but the football gods have not been kind to them. Their lack of football and fandom knowledge really isn't their fault; it's like blaming someone who never took Spanish in school for not being fluent. But other times, I'm just convinced it's people that aren't "us".
For one, I wouldn't start a conversation with a fellow fan on first meeting each other, "so, I was shocked at that play off game." Mostly when it happens here, the conversation trails off and awkward silences linger until one of us can find an excuse to leave. 1. No Packer fan would refer to it as THAT play off game. Heck we still refer to what happened in a play off game versus the Eagles by the down and distance of the crucial play. A Packer fan would say the Giants game, would mention the fumbles, or drops or something...just not THAT game. 2. No statement turned into question would ever be asked without the appropriate "eh" at the end of it. 3. If a Packer fan walked up to a house with a Packer gnome on it and was greeted by a person wearing a B.J. Raji t-shirt, they wouldn't question if the person was a fan, they'd assume and start right in wondering why Raji got less pressure this year. If on the off chance that said person in house and shirt wasn't a fan, we'd do that, huh? head cocked to the side, shoulder shrug thing and run away.
So now here I am, writing about the Packers, or mostly - in this case - my trip to the dentist on CheeseheadTV, where people actually come to for Packers news - and sometimes my dribble; talking Packers with some other die-hards on Cheesehead Radio and living off my twitter feed like it's my oxygen supply. Now that the season has tragically come to an end, one must reflect on how they spent their season. I spent half the season perched in front of this keyboard, and the other half fighting what I'm sure will go down as two of the most vicious cases of bronchitis known to man. Is this what I want for my life? And after the utter gross-ness that was displayed to Kyle Williams and Jermichael Finley - and anyone who happened to mess up on the field - on twitter, I definitely wondered if maybe this train was headed in the wrong direction.
Living with the outsiders, when my island co-patriots are only found online, it can sometimes be hard to embrace the island lifestyle. Am I overly crazy? Sometimes I start to think that I am. And then I go to the dentist. And the fact that someone out there, walking among normal everyday people thinks that A.J. Hawk is part of the core of the Packers defense, scares the living daily lights out of me. If that's being right, then its an island life for me.
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