Thursday, November 08, 2007

NYJB - 4

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

This here would be Part Four!

Saturday arrived, and I was ready for some football. Unfortunately, the outdoors world wasn't. The remnants of Hurricane Noel were hitting New England, hard. It was raining, and the downpour was expected to last all day. The temperature hovered in the 40's, and wind gusts were predicted to reach upwards of 50mph.

I had never been to a sporting event in such bad weather. Given the number of games I've attended over the years, in a place like Boston, it seems impossible that I wouldn't have gone to one in snow or something at one point in my life, but I hadn't. The Red Sox don't play when it rains. The Bruins and Celtics play indoors. Prior to this year, I had been to exactly 5 big-time football games in my life - 2 Patriots games, and 3 BC games - and they had all been played on clear days.

One of the BC games (versus Notre Dame, played at Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro, in 1975) was probably the coldest sporting event I had ever attended. I suffered miserably, not having dressed anywhere near warmly enough for it. It was played on September 15th, but it was frigid and windy. Who expected miserable cold that early in the year? Not me, that's for sure. Our tickets were in the upper reaches of the stands, where the wind whipped through and made my sweatshirt-clad body fairly ache.

Anyway, that game had taught me a lesson. I wasn't going to underdress for this game. I threw on some long johns and a stout pair of jeans. I wore a heavy shirt and a sweater. Some thick socks were on my feet. I broke out the heaviest winter jacket I had in the house and put it on. I topped all of this off with my BC baseball cap - not very warm, but fitting for the occasion.

I planned ahead for any uncomfortableness due to the wet conditions. I packed a hand towel in one of the jacket pockets, to wipe the rain from the metal benches that serve as seating in Alumni Stadium. Smart!

Of course, when it comes to avoiding wetness outside, what you wear on your feet is probably the most important thing. After all, your feet come in contact with the wet ground, and if you don't protect your feet, what's the use of all the other junk? You're going to be miserable if your feet get wet. So, of course, I wore sneakers.

Yup. Sneakers. CLOTH sneakers. Cloth sneakers with some small holes worn out in the top of them.


It wasn't readily apparent to me that I was making a hideous choice in footwear. After all, I only had about ten feet from my house to my car, and then another ten feet to walk when I reached Fred's house. Not much chance for my feet to get wet in that short of a time. I had chosen these old worn-out sneakers on purpose. I figured it was a miserable night, so why ruin some good footwear?

Again, DUH!

When I arrived at Fred's place, the door was answered by a woman I didn't recognize. We said a cheery "Hello!" to each other as she let me in.

I said, "Hi! I'm here to rob Fred's house. You don't mind, do you?"

She said, "No, not at all. You go right ahead and take whatever you want."

Right answer! I knew we'd get along well.

Fred came downstairs - he had been getting dressed - and made introductions. Her name was Robin, and her partner's name was Dave. They were the married couple that Fred had invited. Both of them were easy-going and there was no trouble falling into pleasant conversation with them.

Fred offered us all beers, which we gratefully accepted. Then Fred looked down at my feet.

"Sully! What the hell are those?"

"What are you talking about?"

"What are you wearing on your feet?"

"Sneakers, Freddy. Why?"

As I answered, I looked at the feet of everyone else. Boots all around.

Fred said, "Sully...", and shook his head, as though he were talking to a dog that had just messed his carpet.

I now realized that my choice of footwear was less-than-optimal, but I had to save face. I said, "For Goodness' sakes, Fred, what do you want me to wear? Wingtips? We're going to a football game in the rain. Why would I want to ruin a good pair of shoes?"

Nobody was buying it. They all pointed at their boots and made "tut-tut" noises, while shaking their heads. I was hoping my cousin would ring the bell and take the heat off of me. No such luck. And it was getting to be about 5:15, a quarter-hour after the scheduled time for arrival at Fred's place. Where was my cousin David?

(If this were a real story, with a plot and actual stuff taking place in it, this would be where I reveal that David had been late because he stopped off to rescue a baby from a burning building or something. However, this isn't a real story and there is no plot. It's basically a writing exercise to see just how many words I can string together about a fairly mundane day, without totally losing your interest, so no burning babies.)

I decided that I'd go outside, in front of Fred's house, to have a smoke and keep an eye out for David. Fred also went. As soon as we opened the door and looked out, there was David getting out of his car. He explained that he had dropped off a client, then gone to a bar or something, then driven to Fred's house.

No big deal. We went back into the house, and Fred passed around some more refreshments. Then we piled into Fred's mini-van for the ride to the game.

It was still cold, wet, and miserable outside. David showed me his rain gear - a poncho he had originally acquired at a Patriot's game. Robin and her David were packing snow pants. Fred had on a big winter jacket, same as me. And everybody except me had sensible footwear.

As we approached the stadium, the traffic increased. It seemed a bit early for traffic to be backing up as much as it was. We soon found out the reason why. It seemed that, because of all the rain, the tailgating area (Shea Field) was closed. It was a quagmire. So, cops were redirecting all of the cars that might otherwise have parked there, and there were lots of them.

We were told to go to some garage on Commonwealth Avenue. We headed in the general direction, none of us remembering ever having seen a garage in that vicinity. We saw loads of people walking towards the stadium, getting drenched. There were no parking spaces on the streets, of course. This seemed like a bum deal.

David said that we could probably fake our way into the on-campus garage, connected to the stadium. After all, Fred had a parking pass; it just wasn't for that particular facility. We all told Fred to go for it, and he agreed. We figured that once we got in line, they really couldn't get us out of there, anyway. We took three right turns around city blocks and headed back towards the stadium.

Fred pulled his ride in behind others entering the garage. There was a person checking passes and whatnot at a gate prior to the garage. Fred rolled down his window, quickly flashed his pass, and she let us by. As we entered the garage, there was another sentry. He asked Fred for his pass. Fred again flashed it quickly and started driving towards the up ramp. We heard the sentry say, "Hey, wait a minute! Is that a pass for Shea Field?", as we disappeared from his sight. Mission accomplished! We were in the best parking spot on campus because Fred has big brass balls.

On the second floor of the garage, it was quite a sight. Everybody had grills cooking sausages and burgers, and there were coolers full of beer strewn across the expanse. Fred did a masterful parking job, squeezing his van into a space right by the ramp and next to a pole. We would have an easy exit after the game. Now it was time to go find the W. B. Mason hospitality tent.

We exited the garage, into the steady, cold rain. Fred had told us that there would be a big W. B. Mason delivery truck parked where the tent was. We spotted one and headed towards it, getting colder and wetter with every step. I was trying to jump as many of the bigger puddles as possible, so as to keep my sneakers dry. It was a losing battle. I finally just gave up and trudged along in my wet feet.

We reached the truck and there was no tent.

Well, this wasn't really surprising. It was half-a-hurricane out there. No tent was going to make it in this weather.

We saw folks heading indoors, to a building next to the truck. We hoped that perhaps the Mason party was moved into that building. We went up to a student manning the door and asked him if this was where we were supposed to go. He was very polite and helpful. He told us that we had to go somewhere called "Lower Cafeteria." He gave us directions, and we again started walking in the cold rain and wind.

We walked for a good quarter-mile or so, my face starting to feel the cold and my feet just soaked, before we came to the building we thought was the right one. We all went inside and, yes, it WAS the right one! And it was worth the walk, too.

It was warm as toast, there were huge projection-screen televisions showing the afternoon's previous football game on ABC, buffets were set up and serving a spread of great smoky barbecued pork and chicken (along with baked beans, cornbread, biscuits, cole slaw, and cookies) and - best of all - there was a bar.

We all headed for the bar first.

I decided to buy the first round, to show my appreciation for Fred having gotten me and my cousin the tickets to this shindig. We ordered three Sam Adams and two Heinekins. As the barmaid poured, I asked how much it was going to cost. She said, "Cost? Oh, no, sir. This is an open bar."

Well, so much for being a big sport. I left a five in her tip jar and we made our way to the nearest buffet. We each made up a big plate full of hot foods and went to sit down.

There were no tables that weren't filled, so we improvised. We took off our wet jackets, ponchos, hats, and boots (those who HAD boots) and made ourselves a nice little campground on the floor. It was as swell a pre-game as I've ever enjoyed. We drank as many beers as we could in the time allowed, and scarfed down pulled pork sandwiches, as we talked and enjoyed each other's company. The five of us made a good grouping. We were very comfortable together.

It came near to game time, so we got dressed again and gathered up our stuff in anticipation of the walk in the rain to the stadium. As it turned out, we didn't need to repeat our previous long route. The stadium was much nearer our current location. We went in at Gate D, climbed the stairs to the upper deck, and got to our seats a few minutes before kickoff.

They were GREAT seats, almost right on the 50-yard line. Thanks, Fred! I pulled out my towel and wiped the metal bench. While my feet were cold and wet, my ass was warm and dry. I was about to see the #2 team in the country play ball. I was in the company of some good folks, my belly was full, I had a nice buzz on, and, all in all, life was very, very good.

Tomorrow: Life continues to be good, despite the game.

(Wow! Edge-of-your-seat stuff, huh?)


David Sullivan said...

A five parter!!!

Is that a record?

Suldog said...

It's a record for stretching things out :-) Like I said at the beginning of the story, it could all be condensed down to THREE sentences. What the hell. It was an enjoyable day. I'm having fun re-living it.

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

How come sul I get the impression that no matter where you might drop, you'll always end up smelling of roses? I had to laugh. I found myself in Paris over easter once, and it had snow on the ground. My thin-soled styletto's were no match for those frozen pavements - I forsook fashion for thermal socks, and all was not completely lost.

Sounds like you had a wonderful time anyway..

Suldog said...

It's true. I'm one of the most blessed individuals on God's green earth. I've done precious little to deserve it, but there it is!

Goody / NYJB said...

My balls are big and made of brass. I like the sound of that!!

David Sullivan said...

Another temple, I mean, county heard from!!

CapCity said...

my FAVORITE line:
" I was in the company of some good folks, my belly was full, I had a nice buzz on, and, all in all, life was very, very good."

What MORE can U ask for?!! Even a shoe-a-holic like me could excuse your shoe faux pax (not sure how to spell it - but u know what i mean;-).

When U &/or your cuz EVER visit the rotten apple we gotta go for a drink!

Suldog said...

Goody - Yup. I have no idea how you walk.

Cuz - Not touching that.

CC - You've got it! Next time I'm in The City, we'll share a cocktail or two. I'll even wear something besides sneakers!