“You’re how old now?” P asked as he took a sip of beer from his light-up Patriots mug. When I replied that I was now the ripe old age of 27, he laughed, shook his head, and drank some more.

P remembers me when I was a toddler, and I believe the last time he’d seen me before yesterday was before my family moved to Vermont. That would have put me at five years old. Which is why it had taken him a second to remember to follow up his offer of beer to my father with the same to me.

“In my mind, you’re maybe 10 at the oldest.” Laughter all around.

P and my father were old Patriots comrades, from back in the days when my father was a season ticket holder at the old stadium. During the real rough seasons. Dad and P were among the insane group of people who felt the snow accumulate atop their heads during the Snowplow Game. They’re of the hardcore, lifetime Patriot fans stock.

So when my father told P that he and I were going to be taking in yesterday’s game, the invitation came quickly and with assertion: Tailgate. Our spot. Be there around 10 a.m.

And we were. Four hours of pre-gaming in the parking lot, followed by an hour to get into the stadium and make our way up to our seats high above the action. Five hours in the cold before another few hours in the same cold.

And yet it was fantastic. Given that my efforts to tailgate with Michelle before the Buffalo game had been squandered by traffic and the decisions made with Jonathan and my father (Eagles and the Jags, respectively) to take the Football Train, this was my first chance to really tailgate this season, and P’s crew busted out all of the goods. Wings, chili, steaktips, dip, beer, soda, and then the veggies and dessert Dad and I had brought along — it was a nice spread. And since we had two heaters going full-blast the entire time, it was a nice warm spread.

What made me laugh the most, however, was the schnapps. Six men in their 40s and 50s, armed with beers, their Pats finest, and four or five bottles of schnapps. Pucker, Poison, you name it. It seemed out of place until I realized the brilliance of it: passersby were offered a Dixie Cup of liquid warmth and good luck wishes for the game.

It was at about the time that Poison was making the rounds that I saw a telltale bottle and its beautiful gold flecks.  Goldschlager only pops into my life at rare, wonderful moments. I inquired about doing a shot, poured myself some happiness…and promptly turned my back to my father as I downed it. He and I both burst into laughter. I’m always game for the rare moments when I clink beer bottles with my dad, but downing a shot in front of him still feels strange.

It was even better a few moments later, when shots of the stuff were handed to everyone and I, for the first time, took a shot with my father…

…and promptly realized that I could blame him for all the times I had difficulty taking shots during college. Like father, like daughter, it would seem.

***
I’d bought myself the scarf before last week’s game, not thinking that it was that big a deal. Red and white stripes. So what?

But for the second week in a row, I received so many compliments on the thing that I swear it must have had Brady’s signature on it or something. High fives. Fist bumps. Exclamations of “that is friggin’ awesome!”

I still don’t get why it’s so novel, but I won’t question it. Instead, I’ll make sure to wear it wherever I find myself watching the Super Bowl.

***
My guy in Red Sox baseball is Youkilis, followed by Vice Guy Lowell, and in both cases it’s because they’re passionate team players. My guy in Bruins hockey is Aaron Ward because I cheered for him at so many Adirondack Red Wings games back in the day.

My Patriots football guy is Wes Welker. And while it’s primarily because the guy can trip and still gain five yards off of it, there’s also the fact (slightly embarrassed as I am to admit it) that he’s hot. Okay? I admit it. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to me making a statement that even remotely merits thoughts of a pink hat.

Actually, that’s a lie. When Welker caught the Brady pass for a touchdown and my father looked at me with a smirk, that was the closest I came to making a statement that remotely merits thoughts of a pink hat.

It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t say anything like, “And that, sir, is MY imaginary boyfriend!”

It was the cold talking. Now stop judging me as I go and study some stats to make up for my evil, wicked ways.

***
Dane Cook was at the game. Dane Cook was on the field during the post-game festivities. And I’m starting to believe that Dane Cook never intends to thank me for trying to help him out during the World Series.

Harumph.

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