December 22, 2009

But I was There: When in Buffalo, Roam as the Buffalo Do

Exhibit A. It's Sometimes Sunny in Buffalo

Dear Reader, I am no longer a virgin.

It was my first NFL game and associated tailgate. This weekend I attended the Buffalo Bills–New England Patriots game with none other than…my Dad. It was everything I thought it would be, and something I would do at least once a year. Though this father-son moment is something most boys do with somewhere around the age of six, thirty seems about right. I won’t bore you with the details of the game other than to say that I saw two of my top ten all time favourite athletes connect on a touchdown (Brady to Moss), but (and cue the music) more importantly, I connected with one of my top ten all time favourite parents.

Here are the highlights.

8AM – woke up in Burlington at my Uncle's house. He is an awesome football fan and an actual University coach (like Craig T. Nelson, but real). I drank a delicious glass of orange juice and pa and me b-lined it to the Tim Horton’s for what would have been a lovely little commercial.

9AM – Driving through St. Catherines, I had the following exchange with my Dad (married 35 years to Ma), which is definitely, a top 5 all time for me:
Me: All my friends seem to be married now. How do you decide to finally do it?
Dad: If you think maybe you should marry the person you’re with, that’s a no. If you think yes, then get married.

9:30AM – We cross the border. I realize how much I’m like my Dad when I notice how panicked he gets around border guards. Border guards are pricks. There, I said it. I know this is part of the uniform they need to wear to catch Osama, but I actually think they will probably do more to increase terrorism than prevent it if they aren’t nicer to people: I should sell that to the government “Kindness: one weapon against terror.” When we handed him our passports, the border guard ordered us to hand them to him open as though he were ordering us to put all hands on the wall for a cavity search. I stuttered when he asked us our seats numbers and then laughed at how ridiculous a vetting question that is.

9:43 AM - Buffalo is a shithole. It looks like Hamilton except the billboards are for beer brands we don’t have.

10:00 AM – We arrive in Buffalo and pull into a parking lot. We pay someone in a yellow vest $25 dollars and park between two trucks. On our left, a group of guys bbq’ing chili. On our right, the same thing. In fact, everyone had chili on the go. My Dad and I feel slightly left out, so we go over to the KK Convenience Mart and pick up 18 Miller Lite and a bag of plain chips. We’re ready to roll.

Exhibit B. Friendly People

10: 15AM – We open the back of the Hyundai Santa Fe (painfully close to a Mom SUV) and sit on the bumper. It’s -5, there are drunk Americans everywhere, yet I feel like the Buddha must have felt sitting under the lotus tree for the first time.

10:20AM – I put on my New England patriots toque. Instantly, Bills' fans start yelling at me (e.g. “New England sucks!”), and Patriots' fans start offering me their first born.

10:26AM – A father and son selling pie to fundraise for their church tug on my and my father's collective heartstrings. We buy a peach and apple for 5 bucks each. They're not bad, more tarts than pies, but I guess their father son moment is a good cause; I have no idea what the church was: it sounded made up to be honest. 20 minutes later, high school cheerleaders come by and try to sell us peanuts. Though they'd go much better with the beer, I feel like I'm being pandered to and we reject. I'm glad we bought the cult-pies.

10:30AM – The first Miller Lite is going through me like water. My Dad and I start getting really folksy and I say something like “You don’t buy it, you rent it.”

10:32AM – I return from the portable toilet at the far end of the parking lot and warn my Dad that if he can avoid using them, to do so (then again, are they ever Shangri-la?). I should sell that name to a portable toilet company: Shangri-La Septic. My Dad tells me the second hand story he just heard from the group to our left of a guy who randomly had sex with some girl in a bar bathroom last night. When we’re kids, our parents try to protect us from these stories; I wish I were there to protect my dad from that one.

11:40AM - We get into an excellent conversation with the car to other side of us (I feel like we knew everything we needed to about the group to right). They are a group of Mormons (lapsed) from Erie. At first we talk about how my Patriots toque sucks “giant ass”, but then get into talking about the economy and careers. We offer career advice to a welder to look into the Alberta oil fields. It’s a completely asinine conversation to be having when 20m in the distance, I think I just saw someone throw up and urinate at the same time.

Noon – The game starts at one, so we decide to start making our way to the field. I see one guy so drunk, I wonder how (or why) he will get into the stadium. He’s doing that sideways walk thing, where the feet seem to be pointing to the side, but the legs and body continue to move forward. If he gets into the game, at least he can say, “I was there.”

1:00PM – The game starts. I scream like a little girl when Randy Moss and Tom Brady run onto the field. I take my hat off when the National Anthem begins (which you should do, even in a country where the border guards are dicks).

1:10PM – One row in front of us, this:
Exhibit C. The Worst Nap In Buffalo History

Now, I know what I paid for my tickets, and in this economy, I just can't believe this can happen. This lovely couple probably had a great Sunday morning, but they are to tailgating what the hare is to a race against a tortoise; furthermore, this kind of thing probably provides a lot of ammunition to people who try to argue that soccer is the better game than football (Let’s face it, Euro football vs. American football debaters: they are both boring. In fact, at some point, all sports (and sport blogs) can be boring if you aren't moderately drunk. But I think I’ll take the puking America tailgater stereotype over the murderous soccer hooligan stereotype for the simple reason that I can clean vomit from my clothes, but I can’t clean a knife from my chest).

1:20PM – A woman in her mid-50s sitting in front of me is offended by my Patriots toque. She takes a pink Buffalo Bills cap, puts it on my head, and takes my picture. If we were both half our age plus seven, we'd have exchanged facebook names and I'd be able to get a looksee how this picture of me turned out. Alas, not. Somewhere in Buffalo, my picture is on a her computer; I wonder what she’ll do with it. I worry that with the Pats toque under the Bills hat, I will someday be used for anti-Patriots propaganda, possibly with Perez Hilton style graffiti over my picture claiming that I am a "douchebag."

2:45PM – I brave the washrooms at Ralph Wilson Stadium. It's packed with men, of which I am one: when in traffic, don't complain, because you're a car too. If hell exists, it is found in a men’s washroom at a sporting event. All the senses are assaulted. I realize I'm growing up when the first thought that comes to my mind is whether or not the fire department would have a problem with all the people in this bathroom. A Bills' fan is banging on a stall door wondering what the person 'in there' is doing. A few minutes later, we all find out, when the guy who was in the stall exits, a fresh sheen of vomit down the front of his Terrell Owens jersey. But he was there. At least he was there.

4:15PM – The game ends and the Bills lose (see, I told you I wouldn’t bore you with the details). I take one last look back to see Randy Moss, and my Dad catches me. I quickly say something about girls.

4:40PM – We arrive back at the Hyundai Santa Fe and most people are on their way out except one group of Ontarians who can’t start their car. We give them a boost, talk about football, drink a beer and swear probably 30 times each. We wear the uniform of a tailgater to the bitter end.

5:35 PM – At the Niagara Falls border, the Customs officer wants to know why we both have suitcases if we were just in town for the Bills' game. We tell her the completely true story, that because of our nervousness sounds made up, about sleeping the night in Burlington at my Uncle's, a football coach, like Craig T. Nelson, only real...etc.

What I really wanted to do was to tell her to read my blog today—both to get her answer and to up the number of hits on my counter…just so she could prove, that yes, she was here.

Exhibit D. When in Buffalo, Roam as the Buffalo Do

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Davidjames. As (hopefully) another one of your top ten favourite parents, I enjoyed reading of your Adventures in Buffalo with Dad. A couple of the items brought a tear to my eye, many brought a chuckle a couple outright laughter, and several a very loud groan. Do adults really go to football games and end up with vomit on their jerseys or does that happen only in the United States of America?

By the way - you are definitely one of my top ten favourite sons.

Love from Mom and my #1 favourite daughter in Edmonton.