Random Thoughts is back. I really enjoy writing these, but I guess I don’t have a ton of opportunities to get out there and experience all that is the magic (don’t laugh) of the Buffalo Bills. Open Practice was a strange, if not unique experience. I didn’t make it to training camp this year to provide my thoughts. I’ll be at the Steelers game at the end of November. That is also conveniently the day after my birthday – so there’s sure to be some good stories. For now, let me tell you about my experience at the home opener:
So I went to bed last Saturday with high hopes. I had just finished reading Sports Illustrated’s NFL preview which had us going a fantastic 2-14 this season, tied for the worst record in the NFL. I had been drinking the C.J. Spiller kool-aid for the last month or so, thinking this guy was going for 300 all purpose yards and 4 TDs. Maybe he’d even propose to a cheerleader a la Boise State running-back-who-no-one-remembers. In my mind, there was no way we’d be as bad as SI was making us out to be. And DEFINITELY there was no way we’d be losing to Miami.
I woke up on Sunday morning with equally optimistic thoughts. Regardless of how bad the team looks, there’s no doubt every Bills fan has butterflies of excitement in their stomach on opening day. It’s kind of like the time I went to the Teen Scene in middle school and finally got to dance with this chick I’d been eyeing all year. I got all excited because I pictured the dance ending, and making sweet love to her out back by the dumpster behind the gym doors during the 10 minutes between when I called my mom to pick me up and when she arrived. I inevitably had that moment when I realized I was still a 13 year old boy and maybe I had been watching a little too much late night Cinemax. She ran off giggling with her friends (the fat one, the red head, and the “stay away from him” girl), and I hopped in mom’s minivan. Real life doesn’t always turn out like your fantasies. I’ll be darned if that isn’t an amazing analogy for the Buffalo Bills. [as a sidenote: I saw this same girl the other day at the gas station. She’s two kids deep, single, and pushing 300 pounds. I’m not a good looking man by any means, but geez, I felt like Brad Pitt after walking out of there. Am I evil?]
I’m 26 years old. I’ve lived in the WNY area for almost my entire life. Most of my friends were smart enough to get out of here while they still could and find jobs in other major cities. This makes finding a group of rowdy dudes to go to the game with a difficult prospect. So like any pathetic twenty-something, I attended this game with my parents! WHOOOOOO!!!!!!! I get along with my folks a lot better than most do, but it’s still always a demoralizing moment attending a sporting event with your parents. Doing the whole father/son thing is different. I’m talking mom AND dad here. Riding over to The Ralph in the back of their Subaru Forester brought back horrible flashbacks of family road trips.
I got the ticket through my dad’s work, which also included a pregame tent party with all you can eat food, and beer. The tent was a decent walk away, but I didn’t mind. One of my favorite moments of opening day is walking through the lots and taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the first game of the year. First you have your father/son tandems playing catch. Ah yes, the bonding moment. How beautiful. That is until junior hits Mr. Lawyer’s Lexus SUV and the awkward moment goes down between him and dear old dad. And who can forget Mr.-Fat-Guy-with-Gray-Beard who is cooking enough food to cater a Biggest Loser relapse episode, but in reality is only serving him, his wife, and that weirdo Ned who lives next door (or maybe in their garage). South Buffalo all the way.
But these are just common sites at a Bills game. By far the most disturbing image I saw was a husband and wife tandem grilling on the back of their truck. This wasn’t an ordinary couple though. The husband sported his Jim Kelly jersey, but his demon spawn of a wife was wearing a Dan Marino jersey. A Bills flag hung from one end of the truck, a Dolphins flag from the other. My question is: Does this man have any self respect??? At what point in the relationship do you think it became clear to him that she was a Fins fan? If it was early enough in the dating process, why didn’t he cut the cord then? There must be something else she’s good at that made him stick it out.... The worst part of this is the way they’re making this out to be some sort of cute display of love. “Ooooo, look at them! Their teams hate each other but they still love each other!” My God I wanted to puke. I had one of those moments where you imagine being a total badass, shoving the guy to the ground and spitting in his face. Then you realize this is society, and we have rules. Blast.
Anyway, we made it to the tent. These awkward work tailgate functions are always hilarious to partake in. The office alcoholic doesn’t want to drink too much. The office obese woman doesn’t want to eat too much. The office tramp makes sure to wear a sweatshirt instead of her Bills bikini top. No one wants to embarrass themselves. Me? I didn’t care. I don't work there. Free beer – I dove right in. Now if you remember my experience at the open practice, you’ll know that I don’t enjoy waiting for a beer. When I saw the beer situation under this tent, I almost cried tears of joy. There, on the table, were pre-filled cups of Blue and Blue Light. You better believe I got down to business right away. Some may be freaked out by the possibility of 100 open cups of beer being drugged by some crazy guy, but not this guy. The system they had going for replacing the cups was ideal. No one waited for a beer the entire time. And as I mentioned, since no one wanted to embarrass themselves in front of their coworkers by getting blind drunk, there was plenty to go around.
Now not only do we have to get ready as fans for the new season, but we need to prepare our metabolism for the onslaught of grease and alcohol at early morning hours as well. All summer we get used to sleeping in on Sunday, maybe having a late lunch. Once football season comes around this all changes. By 10:30am I was three beers deep staring at a huge plate of pulled pork, sausage and peppers, macaroni and cheese, and pasta salad. Before I dug in, I had one of those angel/devil moments. A faint voice in my head said “Chris! You have a weak stomach! Bad idea!” But then the voice of Lucifer himself shouted out “THIS IS FOOTBALL!” like that dude from the movie 300, and I went to battle. I housed down the whole plate of food, drank five free beers (should have had more) and even grabbed a cookie on the way out. I was feeling full, slightly buzzed, and ready for some football, Hank Williams Jr!
The biggest buzz kill is always waiting in line to get into the stadium. This is also one of the most socially uncomfortable situations you can be in. One game I was at, there were cops on horses and it looked like they were herding a bunch of drunk cows into their pen. You’re there squished up against smelly drunks that may/may not have puked themselves, little kids who looked scared to death they’re going to be trampled, and even Canadians. It’s a very scary situation. Now, you don’t think twice about this if you’re drunk. When you’re highly intoxicated and waiting in line to get in, you usually either mumble to yourself, slur your way through the “Shout” song, or work on finishing the two beers you are double fisting while waiting in line. Five beers may seem like a lot, but I’m a pretty big dude, so I was only somewhat buzzed. In this state I could really take in just how disturbing we are as a society. I say this mostly kidding, but it’s true! Everyone was pushing, spilling beer, cursing…just going nuts. It was at this point I reminded myself never to show up to a Bills game only HALF drunk ever again.
I finally made it through the gate and met up with my parents, who went to a different part of the line since my mom needed to be violated by a female security guard instead of a male one. Those of you that were there know that the giveaway of the day were some reusable Bills shopping bags, sponsored by Tops. Myself, I hate when they give you crap like this at a sporting event ON THE WAY IN. It’s basically like saying “Here’s something that cost us three cents to make. Please carry this around with you for the duration of the entire game and let it disrupt your entire game-watching process.” It’s like a freaking challenge. If you make it through the game with it, you win…well, you win nothing…you get to actually take the piece of junk home with you. What would be so difficult about giving this away AFTER the game? Anyway, my parents of course thought these bags were like gold, so I watched as they awkwardly carried four of them around for the next 3 and a half hours.
Our seats were in the nosebleeds, which is always fun. I always check everyone out as I’m making the climb up the steps, trying to pick out who will end up in a fight later. There were no fights this day, but a couple close calls. There was a large contingent of Dolphins fans, which I would like to personally introduce you to, one by one:
Marc Anthony: This guy may or may not have been from Miami. He may have just pretended to be since he was part Hispanic. Either way he looked like an idiot. He was wearing yellow J-Lo sunglasses and a Ted Ginn jersey. He also had a touch of gray died into the front of his gelled hair, added for extra fruitiness.
Miami Hurley: I call this guy Miami Hurley because he looked like Hurley from Lost, but with Miami gear. He was wearing an orange Rickey Williams jersey and a fake gold chain. The most disturbing part was his hair. He had a receding hairline on top, but then had his hair spiked out in the back. It looked like a situation where at one time he had a Mohawk, but then someone took a scissor and just cut along the top. People were mocking this hairdo throughout the game.
Village Person: This guy had a Dolphins hardhat on which is a common thing for a football fan, but he was a Dolphins fan, so it made him look like a member of the Village People. He can alternately be called First Down Guy because he was one of those guys who likes to turn around and let everyone in the section know there’s a first down by giving the signal, you know, in case you weren’t watching the game. He was wearing an “Affliction” hoodie, which is one of those companies that Roid-Heads who watch UFC like. That pretty much put him over the top in D-Baginess.
Senorita Loco: This may/may not have been Marc Anthony’s girlfriend. They were making out at various parts of the game, which was shocking to me since it revealed Marc to be straight. Boy, could she yell. I can only equate it to the sound of a flock of seagulls going in for the kill on a bag of Lays potato chips at the beach. Dreadful.
So this group of Fins fans were causing trouble the entire game, but no fights. There were a few close calls, but the supervisor of security, who happened to be a 60 year old, overweight woman, magically was able to calm the tempers.
About halfway through the first quarter, it felt like someone punched me in the gut. I looked down. There wasn’t a fist there. It was that sausage and peppers from 10:30am knocking on my intestines. We’ve all been there. The moment when you’re in the middle of a sporting event, in the middle of a row full of people, when you realize a thunderstorm is brewing around your waistline and you have limited time to find a solution. Well, there was only one solution, and that was to use one of the repulsive, disgusting, unsanitary, satanic stalls in the men’s restroom. Since this is a family blog I will not get into details. I will skip ahead and mention I took a shower when I got home.
I decided it would be a good opportunity to grab a beer before I went back to my seat. This would also give me something to carry up the steps so that everyone there wouldn’t turn their head and say to their friend “That guy definitely just dropped one in the bathroom” while I walked back to my seat. I’m not going to waste my time complaining about the cost of beers in the stadium. They’re expensive, blah blah blah. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy them. What bothers me is the exchange of money that goes down during this transaction. As I learned from my last venture with stadium beer at the open practice, apparently it is impossible to come up with a better system of serving beer besides pouring each one individually out of a can. Whatever. I’m over this part. The part that puzzles me is when people drop their money on that little plastic pour table in a puddle of beer, water, and possibly bodily fluids and have the vendor pick it up. My question is, what happens to these bills after the game? Is there a drying station below the stadium where migrant workers dry each bill off individually with a blow dryer? I’ve never got money back from somewhere and had it smell like beer, so it makes me wonder. Then again, I haven’t really ever smelled my money, so maybe I’ll start now and see if I can solve this mystery.
I’m going to skip the game, since we all know what happened. There’s already been plenty of analysis about what went down, how bad we looked, etc. Besides, that’s not my cup of tea anyway. I’ll leave that up to Brian and the other pros on this site.
Anyway, leaving the game after a Bills loss is always a terrible moment. No one even gets angry anymore. Everyone just sort of looks at each other with this expression of “Why do we keep subjecting ourselves to this garbage year after year?” It’s kind of like waking up in Vegas like in The Hangover and wondering what the heck just happened. Besides, the hangover already has started for most people. No one’s been drinking since halftime and they already have a headache. Now they have to go home, make dinner, and deal with going to work the next day. WHY DO WE DO THIS TO OURSELVES?!?!
The parking lot looks like a bomb went off. Charcoal, beer cans, cardboard, smashed up burgers, vomit, random shoes, and various other pieces of garbage litter the pavement. Do you ever wonder who cleans this crap? If you know, please leave a comment. God bless those people.
I got in the car just in time to hear The Chan take the blame for the offense’s struggles. At least the guy is accountable. Then he said the running game wasn’t ready yet. This is a professional football team, right?
It’s going to be a long season, my friends.