Hell of a Guy
No legacy is so rich as honesty - William Shakespeare

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Not Just another Friday…


Scenario:  3:30pm, Saturday, November 27th.  Thirty-eight degrees, wind, snow showers.  Sixty thousand screaming fans dressed in gold and blue, some drunk and quite a few others flirting with not being able to recite the ABCs.  Just 10 o’clock of us sits an empty stadium.  Where we stand shivering in the chill of the hour is a sea of makeshift tents, charcoal and gas grills spewing meat-scented smoke toward the heavens and on tables everywhere is displayed a myriad of delicasies both savory and sweet.  People are laughing, and high- and low-fives are being conducted all around us.  Occasionally a freshman or some other immature idiot yells “Eat shit Pitt!” at the top of his or her youthful lungs.  This is “The Backyard Brawl” and is what these fans look forward to every year.  This is the Pitt-West Virginia game, the most meaningful game of the season in these parts, and this night I get to be a part of it.

I know what you have just read might make you think I am a huge football fan, but believe me when I say I am ten times less the fanatic than this wacko West Virginian I married.  The Nancy lives for West Virginia football, and when they are not playing, any football game will do.  Yesterday I got to experience a football game with her and her brothers and a few thousand of their closest friends.

The kickoff was scheduled for 7pm.  We were staying about thirty miles from the WVU campus.  So in order to not miss the kickoff we HAD to leave for the stadium at 2:30.  Made perfect sense to me – let’s leave a comfortably warm venue for one where we stand outside in the cold and wind for four hours or so just so we don’t miss the beginning of the game where we will sit in the cold for a couple more hours.  Just ducky!

We arrived, met up with the rest of the family at the designated tailgate locale, popped a beer, ate some snacks, and within 30-40 minutes lost all feeling in our fingers and toes.  Just three hours to go to kickoff.  My excitement level was waning as the pain of frostbite increased.

Long story short, we finally took our end-zone seats, just outside an enclosed terrace area (seats compliments of friends in Beautiful Downtown Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, population 711).  We were nowhere near the fifty-yard line, but we think we had the best seats in the house, and not just because we were about a hundred feet from heated rest rooms.

As the game began, all thoughts of the chill in the air and numbness in our fingers and toes was gone.  The exhilaration of the game took over and we were lost in the ecstasy of the Mountaineers removing the Pitt Panthers from their number eight position in the Top Ten.  The game ended in what seemed to be just a few minutes with a very acceptable final score of WVU 19, Pitt 16.  This was football at its best, this was the Backyard Brawl.

And that is all I have say about that… 

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday, the Day after the Feast…


This fine November morning, again, finds me at Starbucks.  The location of this one is near a very busy shopping area replete with a Super K-Mart, a huge Walmart and various other clothing and junk stores.  It is almost light on this cloudy, rainy day in Bridgeport, WV and I am struggling to believe my bloodshot eyes.  The parking lot of the K-Mart is packed full with cars cruising up and down the aisles looking for an empty space, actually looking for any space at all.  In fact there are cars parked everywhere and anywhere there is square footage enough to accommodate them.  The steady traffic heading to and from the Walmart is bumper-to-bumper and it is a very good indicator the parking there is in as bad a shape as the one just a couple of hundred feet from where I sit.

The question that comes to mind as I look out over this madness is “Why?”  What could possibly be at Walmart or K-Mart at 6:30 on the Friday after Thanksgiving to entice half the population of West Virginia to converge on this locale at this early hour?  After careful thought and consideration I can only envision all these folks so enjoyed the camaraderie and cum-by-yah of yesterday they had to have more of it, since their families probably all went their separate ways after eating themselves to the ultra miserable level on Thursday, and so here they are.  It does not appear to be a joyful moment to me, though I did so enjoy yesterday. 

It was fun to take over The Nancy’s mother’s kitchen and watch The Nancy’s mother in a state of near panic as she drove The Nancy nearly crazy looking for “what to do next?”  I think The Nancy was in a state of near panic as she attempted to give her mother little tasks to keep her busy so we could get the meal ready for the throng of family waiting hungrily while prognosticating the outcome of the Packers’ and the Lions’ game. 

As with all Thanksgivings past, everything came off as it should.  The meal was ready at the appropriate time.  Everything was oh so “delicioso” as it was supposed to be, and we all stuffed ourselves to the point of misery.  And, as usual, The Nancy finely acknowledged we had prepared enough food for the event, and her trust in my judgement was restored, at least for the moment.  It was truly the best Thanksgiving ever, but extending the exhilaration today at K-Mart or Walmart is just not in the picture for me.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My 66th Thanksgiving…


It’s here, and I am here, not sure the exact longitude and latitude, but I surely am in Bridgeport, West Virginia sitting at one of my favorite Starbucks at 6:30 enjoying a steaming cup of Sumatra as I use the index fingers of both hands to type this Thanksgiving BS. 

Our typical Thanksgiving plan of having the family at The Farm interrupted by circumstances, we are bringing the Feast to Mohammed (perhaps a poor descriptor), as it were.  Nonetheless, I am looking forward to the activities of the day, and so ready to get this party started.

The meal is practically ready: the turkey is cooked, the side dishes all can be prepared in ten minutes so, the dressing, dinner rolls and a creamed spinach casserole need only be warmed up.  All of that combined with cranberry salad, green beans and only God knows what else will show up, leaves us needing just people to eat it, some plates and forks.  We are good to go.

In about eight hours I will sit down at a table with a bunch of family and pig out as I listen to family speak of Thanksgivings of old, family news, kids and since the group contains both Republicans and Democrats, we will no doubt discuss President Obama and the pros and cons of national healthcare reform and other contentious crap, and this leaves no doubt in my ever wandering mind a raucous will eventuate.  But beyond the debate lay coffee and dessert.  A little pumpkin pie with a big scoop of French vanilla ice cream will sooth the savage beast and calm the ire of the even the worst of the worst (the Glen Becks and Keith Olbermanns of the world) and also nice guys like me.

And that is al I have to say about that…

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving, Again?  Already?


I know I am getting older, well, I am old, and time seemingly goes by more quickly as we age, but good grief, where the hell has 2009 gone?

I love this time of year, though I wish it had arrived a tad more slowly.  I like to think of November and December as Family Months – November being the month for the whole family and December the month for kids.  Thanksgiving and Christmas bring out the best in me.  I get a little giddy with excitement as we get closer to Christmas.

For the past five years The Nancy and I have hosted Thanksgiving at our home for up to twenty-six guests, depending on how the flu season decimates the guest list.  We cook for a week to get our Thanksgiving Feast on the table by 2pm for a meal that takes no longer than thirty minutes from Grace to dessert.  Still, it is an exciting day and very enjoyable.  I love having family here as Thanksgiving on the farm is the best day ever.  Then, before we even have time to get the dishes done it seems, Christmas is upon us like a ninety-mile an hour fastball, with just about time to decorate the tree and write out some checks (we are not good shoppers).

To me, other than the meaning of the Season, Christmas is for the little kids.  I love to see them flash that Christmassy, ear-to-ear smile as they rip the wrapping from one present after another.  It is amazing how many they can open in a mere minute or two, not having looked at any one for more than a few seconds.  They are nothing more than spoiled, little ingrate bastards, but I love them all just the same, especially on Christmas Day.

As a kid my brothers and sisters did not get a lot of Christmas presents under the tree.  My folks just didn’t have the money.  Most years to prolong Christmas morning each of us would open a present while the others looked on.  We maybe had two or three presents for each of us and doing it that way stretched the morning out a little until Dad made a hardy Christmas breakfast of pancakes smothered with thick Karo syrup and savory sausage links – which in my opinion was one of the highlights of the season, but not outdone by the case of six-ounce Coca Colas we always got just at Christmastime. 

Wow!  It is amazing what memories the brain brings forth on a day two days before Thanksgiving 2009 after three beers.  Truly amazing!!

And that is all I have to say about that…

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