Road to the Super Bowl

Road to the Super Bowl

My road to the Super Bowl began with a phone call.

“Hey, my girlfriend had a rough night, ” said N. “We’re in bed watching the Baltimore game right now and we really want to watch it someplace that serves breakfast, and the only place we can think of is your house.”

It was a beautiful day out and our television was finally installed, so we invited them over. They joined another friend who is a regular at our house on Sunday and who helps me with the Sunday Times crossword. Because the television was the only thing installed in our recently remodeled tv room, we brought five lounge chairs in from the backyard and listened to their story while serving breakfast.

“Well, last night a fight broke out up the street,” N said. “And it spilled down the street and ended on K’s car.”

K joined the tale, “When we ran outside, a guy took a swing at N, so I just reacted, and hit him.” She showed us the broken skin on her knuckles.  Vero and I said, “Cool.”

Then she took us out to see her car. The BMW looked fine, until you walked around to its left side. There, it was bloodied and dented and looking exactly the way you’d think a car that just had someone beaten on it would look.

“Wow, your mom is never going to let you come to N’s house again,” I mentioned. “That’s going to make it even harder for you to tell her you have a girlfriend. Before she just had to worry about you being gay, now she has to worry that your girlfriend lives in a bad neighborhood.”

They looked at me stunned . . . and then agreed that nothing kills a relationship like your mom being worried about your physical safety.

After the Baltimore game we watched the Giants end a five-game winning streak by getting trounced by the five-game losing Cowboys. N cheered for the Cowboys, I cheered for the Giants. We trashed talked each other on Twitter.

Our banter was interrupted by K. “Hey, I got that contract to do the Super Bowl party, do you guys want to go?”

Silence.

“Uh . . . yeah,” Vero and I responded with eyes wide open. Then K fell asleep in the lounge chair.

***
Sometime in mid-January, we received an email, “You guys ok with front row endzone?”

“Is she serious?” Vero asked.

That email was followed by another, “We’re going to the Super Bowl, bitches!!”

***
We arrived in Dallas at midnight. Our delayed flight was one of the last allowed to land over the next two days. That’s what happens when you’re on the front end of the worst winter storm to hit Dallas in 15 years. Our feelings of good fortune were quickly tempered by the Avis bus driver who told us that all of the rental agencies, except his, were closed for the night.

The good rate we’d secured at Enterprise would be meaningless on this evening. And that is how the Grand Marquis came into our lives.

“Are you serious?” N vented. “They gave us a pimp-mobile?”

***
We were intent on having a full Super Bowl experience. To that end, we’d bought tickets to tour Dallas Cowboys Stadium. We left our hotel 90-minutes early, for a half hour drive.

We entrusted Vero (and the Grand Marquis) with our lives. The next day we found out, Dallas doesn’t really care about lives, or at least that’s what you can infer from its road maintenance during icy conditions.

Vero was driving me crazy because she refused to go over 38 miles an hour. I felt as though I could run faster than the Grand Marquis. Yes, I am impatient that way. Then she tried to speed up. And the world became a silent, slow motion blur. I was so scared that my motion sickness didn’t even kick in.

She turned the wheel into the spin . . . too fast. “Ahhhhhhhh!” I could hear my brain scream as we zig-zagged toward the center median. My brain then asked, “Where’s the guy with the longhorns on his truck who was just behind us?”

Then Vero turned the wheel the other way . . . too fast. Silence–my brain had given up.

In an uncharacteristically calm and soothing voice, N spoke from the back seat, “Easy, easy into the spin.”

Then we careened in the other direction across the road. The red truck with the longhorns had disappeared–along with all other traffic.

Then the Grand Marquis just stopped. Sitting in the middle of the George Bush Turnpike, I wondered if Bush ever got mad that Dallas let him be all icy and dangerous.  Oh wait, wasn’t he that while in office?

Vero looked at us, smiled, and chirped, “How are you guys doing?”

We went on our way.

Later in the trip, when we got caught in a snow storm on the way back from a party at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth, I thought to myself, “Why the hell is Vero going 38 mph? That’s way too fast for these conditions. Is she trying to kill us?”

The next day we put the Canadian behind the wheel figuring she was better equipped genetically for driving in these conditions.

When she too drove 38 mph, she explained the flaw in our reasoning, “In Canada, we don’t go out in these conditions.”

***

Let me tell you the demographics of our band of merry women. We are all in our 40s, three African-Americans and two Latinas. Four of us grew up in Southern California and one of us in Canada.  We are all strong-willed, loud-mouthed, and opinionated.  Despite this, we all easily agreed on one thing–we must go to Southfork (although Vero claims she did not agree as much as just go along).

I’ll admit that I remain a bigger fan of “Dynasty” than of the “Dallas” television series. Nevertheless, there was a certain thrill in seeing the gun that shot J.R. in a glass case next to the People magazine speculating about the culprit. I also appreciated the Ewing family tree explaining how everyone was related.  The Canadian in our group just shook her head and walked away, “After a while, it just got too complicated.”

While on the tour, we learned how they used mirrors to make the family-sized swimming pool appear Olympic-sized.  We learned that they put flour on the road leading up to the house, so that whenever anyone went tearing up or down the road, they kicked up “dust.”  We learned that German sports writers in town for the Super Bowl also reserve a special place in their hearts for “Dallas.”

Then we learned that N could get us all the seasons on DVD.  Our Valentine’s Party will be “Dallas” themed this year.

***

Game day arrived. My dilemma was what to wear. I wanted to don my Jets gear, but they’d disappointed me, so it remained buried in my backpack. I thought about getting Patriots gear, paying homage of sorts to my friend, RealDawnSummers, who had periodically texted that I was dead to her and that she hated me and that I was an evil person for going to the game.

Full disclosure–earlier in the football season, I had threatened to pull out Tom Brady’s hairplugs if he leaped into my seats at the Super Bowl.

We’d given Vero a pass on driving us to the game, because her neck was still stiff from the previous days’ escapades. The Macallan had not been enough to unwind her either.

K was given navigating duties.  She took them, and the Grand Marquis, a little too seriously.

When the motorcade of black Suburbans drove by us, escorted by state troopers, she wanted to race them.

“Are you kidding me?” I said.  “We are three African-American women and two Latinas in a Grand Marquis, and you want to be speeding next to Texas state troopers.  I will not be pulled over on the way to the Super Bowl!”

We arrived without incident and didn’t have to pay the $500 asking price for parking across the street from the stadium. One of the perks of getting into the Super Bowl lottery is that your package gets you access to significantly cheaper parking.

The first indication we had that something wasn’t quite right was when the stadium’s gates didn’t open on time.  People were calm for an hour.  They followed with chants of “Let us in!”  Inside, remnants of the week’s snow damage was evident.  A vending machine was torn in half.  It remained in front of an entrance.  I’m not sure this was the kind of advertising Miller Lite sought.

Two snipers patrolled the roof—clearly they would be hit by the remaining snow before anyone else.  I even saw an ICE truck.  Yes, ICE was at the Super Bowl.  Not sure what they expected, political debate about immigration reform between touchdowns? A raid?

Maybe they did.  As it turned out, our front row seats were right next to a delegation from Guadalajara.  Those guys were great and we got photos of their Chivas scarf.  To our left was a group from Canada.  It was a regular, old celebration of NAFTA.

Oh, and that guy from “The Blind Side” was there too (he’s not Canadian or Mexican, but he is a Packers fan).  I spent a lot of time taking pictures.  Vero reminded me to look up and watch the game.

I did watch halftime.   And, I don’t care about the debate you folks at home had.  I haven’t heard a single person who was at the stadium say it wasn’t a good concert.  Everyone was up and dancing and into it.  The sound was great! Guess if you pay a lot of money for a ticket, you’re going to have a great time at the half-time show.  You may not have such a great time chasing down the peanut vendor or walking the margarita man to the ATM with you because it costs so much to buy two of those drinks, but you will enjoy the half-time show.  This is no Yankee Stadium.

As you know, the Packers beat the Steelers 31-25.  The guy from “The Blind Side” was so excited he put on a red wig someone threw at him.  We kept yelling at him, “Don’t do it!”  His friend agreed, but he did it anyway.

I guess he was as into the moment as we were and didn’t care that “Extra” would snap a picture of his red-headed jubilance.  It was, after all, exactly the kind of experience you enjoy to the fullest while living it. The whole experience was life-threatening, cold, exhilarating, astounding, loud, funny, and just very, very cool.  Whatever the league decides to do to itself next year, it can never take away the great weekend I enjoyed with my girls.

Highlights

Highlights

I’m not a huge Justin Timberlake fan, but the man did an excellent job hosting the ESPYs tonight.  His song and dance routine running through the year in sports was laugh out loud good. 

I won’t ruin the show for those watching Sunday by revealing winners here.  Instead, I’ll leave you with the question that kept me amused all night–why did so many non-award recipients in attendance dress to the nines?  It’s a sports-themed event!!  We were two of four people in the whole theater who got into the spirit and wore sports team jerseys. 

Underdressed?  Perhaps.  But, definitely more in the spirit than the women in super short cocktail dresses or the guys who thought that gold satin suits were a good idea.

Abre Los Ojos

Abre Los Ojos

This weekend I watched UCLA play the University of Arizona at softball.  At one point, the announcer talked about the third base corner as the “white hot” or “inferno-like” corner.  She referred to the fact that in softball the third basemen play really, really, really close to homeplate (to cover the bunt). 

Third BaseIt made me recall my personal-best third base moment. 

In one of my first games as a varsity high school player (which didn’t occur until senior year because I figured good grades and not softball would get me into college), I was playing the bunt.  That meant I was about 10 feet in front of third base and five feet from the third base line.  As is feared when you’re playing the bunt, only feet away from a woman holding a stick, the girl/woman at the plate hit a line drive.  Luckily, it went foul, just beyond the third base line. 

Without thinking, I swung my glove across my body and threw my full weight to the right.  I stretched as I’d never stretched before, or since, and caught the ball.

“OUT THREE!!!” yelled the official. 

My teammates congratulated me on a fabulous play and I walked to the dugout a few inches taller.  My coach, a stereotypical high school P.E. teacher who had nicknamed me my GPA, since it was all I seemed to care about said, “Four-oh, nice job, but next time–you might want to open your eyes.”

I protested, “Of course my eyes were open!  How could I have done it otherwise!”  I was  indignant at the suggestion that anything other than pure talent had determined the outcome of that particular play.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve wondered whether my eyes were, in fact, open.  I’m not sure that I know anymore and I’ve decided that it doesn’t really matter. 

Playing the sport, at its finest, is about practicing so many times that you know where the ball is and how to get there to find it, even with your eyes closed. 

My favorite players are beloved because they always know where it is.  From what I can tell, they are the ones that take practice seriously and are serious about their game. 

I respect that. 

Bring it on, baseball season’s here!!

Go Yankees!

© Laura Genao 2007

The Baseball Bat is in Peril

The Baseball Bat is in Peril

Sports IllustratedIn case you wondered, global warming will affect every aspect of your life.  The latest evidence of how is on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  The article titled “Going, Going Green” discusses how global warming will:

  1. Eventually put parts of South Florida underwater;
  2. Affect temperature and the speed at which things like baseballs can fly through the air;
  3. Encourage golf courses to use fewer pesticides;
  4. Encourage the spread of beetles that eat timber used to make baseball bats;
  5. Melt the snow at famous ski resorts; and
  6. Make sports venues become more energy efficient.

Since part of my job will require me to be looking at global warming and greenhouse gas issues, I’m pretty excited to have my issue covered in the latest issue of one of my favorite magazines.    Wonder if I’ll ever get the chance to argue for the saving of the baseball bat as we know it.

Go Sparks!

Go Sparks!

I mentioned earlier that a friend got a really cool job.  Well, it’s public now.  My flag football buddy, Nancy Spears, is the new president of the L.A. Sparks.  While she looks all cleaned up and professional in the head shots put out in the press, I have pictures of the real her.  This one in particular should keep her from getting too high and mighty.

Funny face

We’re so happy for your success and will buy those season tickets now!

© Laura Genao 2007

 

Weekend News

Weekend News

A very, very, very, very smart friend of mine wondered why so many people were out and about in Pasadena one night early last year.  Although he’s up to date on any number of topics ranging from global warming, to FCC rulings, to how quickly he can run a mile, turns out he somehow missed that a really big football game was happening. 

His wife, seeing a lot of college merchandise on people, surmised it was probably a football game. He pulled out his blackberry and, finally, figured out it was the night of the USC v. Texas Rose Bowl of January 2006. 

In his honor, and because I spent all weekend watching football, I’ll run down two football-related items of note for those who might otherwise be out of the loop.

  • This weekend was wildcard weekend in the NFL.  The New England Patriots beat the New York Jets 37 to 16, the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 23 to 8, the Philadelphia Eagles bested the New York Giants 23 to 20, and in one the most psychologically damaging plays of the season, Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Tony Romo, bobbled the football on a field goal attempt, which would have given his team a lead with about a minute left to go in the game.  The Seattle Seahawks ended up winning that game 21 to 20. (I’ll be a mess when it comes to choosing sides during next weekend’s games.  I like the Colts because Peyton Manning is such a disciplined quarterback; I like the Eagles because Jeff Garcia has brought a great Cinderella quality to the end of their season;  and I like the San Diego Chargers’ (who had a bye this weekend and didn’t play) Ladainian Tomlinson because he just keeps running and can get away from anything)).
  • For those of you who don’t pay attention, Monday night is when the Ohio State University plays against the University of Florida for the NCAA national champion title in the Fiesta Bowl. (I know a buckeye and don’t know any gators; so, for those who wonder–I’m rooting for the poisonous nut.)

© Laura Genao 2007