“Hey, Nitschke, are you having a good time?” I nodded vigorously, looking down to see myself in an extra-large football jersey, number 66, rum & diet in one hand and a cloth bag of corn kernels in the other. I didn’t know exactly where I was or what time it was, and I was having an absolute ball.
It began earlier that day, how at least half of all weekend mornings/adventures should start – with brunch at the ever-inspiring Iron Horse Hotel. Not sure why, but fabulous things always happen to me here…
Bloody Marys supervised our brunch table like decorated officials dispatched efficiently from the rolling cocktail cart. In their Sunday best, they marched out in stout glasses accessorized with olives, shrimp, celery, onions and salt. Mimosas floated swiftly behind them, sweet silhouettes gliding to the table. My friends surrounded me – the Elegant Entrepreneur emphatically eating a veggie omelette and making a point to the Dynamic Developer, while the Future Phenom lobbed commentary in between robust bites of breakfast burger. He waited for a pause in conversation before announcing he had an extra ticket to tonight’s game. And my flight out later that day, classes at school tomorrow and anything else I could think up was unacceptable, unreasonable and downright silly compared to once-in-a-lifetime 25 yard line seats to see a team with an 83,000 person season ticket waiting list. How’d i get so lucky? I’m still not sure, but i’ll take it!
And so in a remarkable fit of uncharacteristically spontaneous action I changed my flight (you can do anything with a credit card and a phone call), promised myself I could always catch up on schoolwork, borrowed a hall-of-famer Ray Nitschke jersey and was swiftly folded into a sleek black truck as 5th wheel/comic relief to a crew of four die-hard Green Bay Packers fans. The Wisconsin countryside whizzed by while AM radio crackled with football commentary. Turns out the Cheese Castle on I-94 is not made of cheese and these fellows know how to tailgate. Got grill? We did, a propane beaut boasting beer-boiled brats, triple marinated filet mignon, shiitake mushrooms and twice-baked potatoes. Music and fierce tournament-style games of bags (we call it “cornhole” here in the South) ushered in twilight in the Northern latitudes. Thousands of us shivered in the shadow of mighty Lambeau Field and added a layer even though it was unseasonably warm for the area known as the “Frozen Tundra” (50 degrees above zero?! Thanks, global warming).
The game itself was terrific, a Sunday Night Football special, though not a nailbiter. The anemic Dallas Cowboys quailed in the face of the burly Packers. They meekly allowed a 30-point lead, then fired their coach. (Some people say it was the morning after the game, but I bet it was directly after or even during. He may have even had to walk back to Texas). I discovered bleacher seating is brilliant for cold weather venues (forcible snuggling with neighbors = warm insulation on each side and new friends), Wisconsin women are nicer/chattier than any others while in line for the bathroom, and “Budweiser” is a bad word in Miller beer land. Oh, and I learned the essential and unladylike skill of how to shell and spit sunflower seeds (seems like a lot of work for such a little reward, doesn’t it? Hershey’s Kisses have way better payoff in my book).
Three hours of sleep, a 5 am wakeup call, 10 hours of travel and a time zone away, I’m back at Darden, still smiling about my Green Bay adventure. GO, PACK, GO!