Monday, August 2, 2010

The NFL is back

Greetings, fans of football and other people who are probably sane. American football season is upon us.

Over the past few years I have become enamoured of the brand of professional football played in these United States, in particular the Chicago Bears. I've no clue why it happened. It certainly embarrasses my family members. Only friends who live in far-flung suburbs watch it or care that I pay attention to it. I am not so proud of it but it is what it is.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to drive over 130 miles round trip to experience the Bears Training Camp in Bourbonnnais, IL. I am not a fan of most solo car trips. My dearest friend lives 50 miles from me but I see her perhaps three times a year because, dear god in heaven, it is one hour in a car. My personal limit is 45 minutes. My friend, as great as she is and as nice as her family might be, doesn't offer potential gridiron excitement so I ignored my rule and drove to a village near a lot of corn fields in order to experience the birth of another season of Bears. Plus we'd get to sit on metal bleachers in unbearable heat as the sun beat down while also looking into the sun, thereby messing up any chance to get a picture.

We entered the training camp as the Bears left the locker room and walked toward the practice field. No, I correct myself -- as the gods descended from Olympus to grace the mortal world with their unearthly presence. No waving at the fans; no happy anticipation of the workout to follow as viewed by the fans; no acknowledgment the fans were there. We allow a smidge of slack here because it was 2pm and they were going to be working for about three hours and that kind of stress is terrible on anyone, I say with lots of sarcasm.

Not likely to be sacked today
Two friends in attendance were Lord and Lady Football who had driven 250 miles roundtrip and were pleased to be there. Good Lord Football really knows everything there is to know about the sport and about the Bears. The gods ran scrimmages and plays. Horns blew. Adjunct gods held up pieces of paper. Men wore shirts with numbers but not names and the quarterbacks all wore orange. I did not get to ask a lot of questions because Lord Football -- who is very generous with his knowledge, explaining things simply and concisely -- was sitting on the metal bleachers while I retreated from the sun's rays to a nearby tent and quaffed water in the shade, thereby surrendering my acquisition of knowledge for the day. When I ventured out again, I got a seat right at the edge of the field but I mostly didn't know what the heck was going on. I was next to three young men who addressed every issue possible (how great a bubble bath feels, who cares what people think if you want a bubble bath, Cubs scores, Sox scores, how tall that one Bear is, how hot it was in the sun, etc.) but appeared to know nothing about football. The gods pressed on wearing full pads but the significance of said pads was lost on me. My own take is solely that the quarterback throws the ball to his bitch (fine, wide receiver) and he seems to be auditioning new bitches (fine, wide receivers) this year. And that one bitch (fine, except this bitch is a tight end) really looks like he bleaches his hair.

Then it was over! The gods strode toward the locker room and the supreme gods rode in a golf cart to avoid making direct eye contact with mortals. Some of the gods signed their names and numbers on pieces of paper, hats, shirts, signs, posters, and pennants mostly for men. How long each signed seemed governed by caprice. Who came to which part of the field seemed similarly governed but I assertively thrust my paper at two players for their signatures (thanks, 26 and 35). I rolled away (literally, as I got my lazy ass on a golf cart) just in time to miss Lovie Smith, the Wrangler of the Gods of Olympus (fine, Head Coach). Good Lady Football (the Footballs are a lovely match) advised that Mr. Smith was humble and great and signed and signed and signed his name. "Hey, you missed Lovie Smith. He came right when you left." Of course he did, said I.

I believe when the gods ascended Mt. Olympus that night, they ate very rare steak and mashed potatoes and no veggies at all because they don't have normal innards and don't concern themselves with evacuating their colons or simply having a poo while reading maybe a travel magazine or the sports section from the Sunday paper. I believe these gods discussed how eating fruit of any sort is for loser mortals.

Was this experience worth it? Yes, because I'd never done it before and I wanted to see it first hand. Also, no, because the Bears don't seem to realize that they dwell not on Mt. Olympus but in Illinois; that they are as mortal as me or you; that they should get on their hands and knees and thank the fans for putting them on pedestals/shrines/altars and worshipping them; that it could all be over for each of them in the flick of a wrist; that the money they make constitutes obscene wealth and perpetuates the myth among young men of marginal talent that they should only exercise their bodies and not their minds.

But yes, because I got to share the excitement of Lord and Lady Football, and all the other lords and ladies in attendance, all thrilled to be there to support their favorite team in its earliest seasonal form. And yes, because I never have to do it again.

The final yes is because, as I left Bears Training Camp, I realized the one thing that would make me truly satisfied with my trip to Bourbonnais would be coming across a car wash. Yes, I found one. It was huge, automatic, and had serious dancing fringe and hot blowers. Afterward I drove through the corn field toward the freeway and home, pensive about my almost total lack of comprehension of football and how that really is what it is.


  1. Lord and Lady FootballAugust 5, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    Absolutely brilliant!!! What an enjoyable read!!!

  2. Thanks very much, Lord and Lady F. Because you know all about the "F" word, your compliment means a lot to me.

  3. I liked the car wash bit. I wish there'd been more about that.