I had won two Patriots’ tickets at auction: seats in the fourth row on the 50-yard line. The game was with the Atlanta Falcons, a good team with a fine, young quarterback. Rain was forecast, so my son, Jason, who was visiting to celebrate my granddaughters’ and wife’s birthdays, and I prepared for professional football in inclement weather.
Wearing a hooded sweatshirt, jeans, running shoes, and toting a rain slicker, I joined my son in our six-passenger limo. I wasn’t about to drive. I left my good jewelry home, found a watch that some company had sent me for free, donned an old baseball cap, switched my wallet for a money clip, and off we went. Foxboro is about 45 minutes from my home, but it took two hours in the pre-game traffic. We were charged $125 to park the limo amidst another 30, and trudged through a thousand tailgaters whose equipment ranged from a tiny grill and some hot dogs to tents, huge grills, flat screen TVs, and what looked like veal parmesan.
We were frisked at the stadium gate, and I realized I had the folded-up slicker in a pack under my belt, under my sweatshirt, in the small of my back. The security guy felt it, said nothing, and welcomed me to the game.
“Looks like that’s the place to smuggle in the weapons,” observed my son.
We bought hot dogs for $3.75, and two beers at $10 each. We were both carded, one of the most moronic of all the idiot laws that are on the books. The beer guy and the two of us joined in strenuous cursing about the authorities, and we happily parted company.
“You’re really into this,” my son observed.
“I haven’t used the pluperfect form of that particular verb since college,” I replied.
The place was packed by the time of the kickoff. It’s a civilized crowd, with a certain etiquette. (For example, you don’t enter or leave a row—causing people to stand to allow you to pass—during a play, so that no one’s view is blocked.) There is an eternity of down time (injuries, television breaks, team times-out, etc.), and a very poor video replay system for such an expensive stadium and successful team. My son fetched two more beers, fries, and some excellent pulled pork. (What is it pulled from?)
The Patriot players were about 15 yards in front of us, and we could hear some of them on occasion. Tom Brady, the quarterback, is an impressive guy. Some of the players are so huge that they resemble a different species.
In all candor, while you appreciate the game’s speed and contact much more in person, you don’t really see its intricacies as well as you do on hi-def TV, nor can you put your feet up and have a cigar and decent vodka. (More laws.) The Patriots put the game away midway through the fourth quarter, we hiked the half-mile back to the limo area, and we got home in 45 minutes.
We both had a fine time, the rain was light and sporadic, and I was lucky when I changed my wallet to have taken my driver’s license, since it would have been a dry time, otherwise. A good game, a good crowd. But I’m watching the Colts and Cardinals on TV right now, Buddy Beagle leaning against my hip, writing on my lap top, a drink by my side.
And I can stand up whenever I like.
© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.