There’s no way to say, “I went to the Super Bowl” without sounding like a d-bag.
I’m acknowledging this up front. I know it, and you know it. We’re all collectively aware that any piece in which the author talks about amazing things he got to do is going to make said author seem like an ass clown. Look, I’ve read Bill Simmons too, you know.
So at the risk of alienating all you and incurring the wrath of more people on twitter, let me just take this opportunity to point something out.
I WENT TO THE SUPER BOWL.
(Hey, if you’re going to douche it up, don’t pull your punches. Just own it and move along).
My view. Yeah. I know. Sorry.
How did I manage to score a once in a lifetime opportunity? It’s simple. I live a charmed life in which almost everyone around me is a better person than I am.
My long suffering wife is better than I am. She not only didn’t care that I spent all last week leading a bizarre double life in which I masqueraded as a sports reporter by night, spending long hours traipsing around Indianapolis, but when it came time to go out together on Saturday night, she let me taker her to a dinner for football writers. She mocked me, it, and everything, but that just makes her cool. We are part of the I Generation after all.
My sister is better than I am. When her husband scored Super Bowl tickets through work, she decided there was no way she could and deprive me of the chance to go, even though she really wanted to and is a big football fan. Who does that? I wouldn’t have done it. If the cast of Downton Abbey was in town, I would have been like, “Screw you, Sis. I’m going to have a night of culture and refinement with the Granthom clan.” Then I would have rented an old-timey car and driven around her house mockingly for awhile just to see her cry.
My brother-in-law Pat is definitely way better than I am. Listen, if your brother scores Super Bowl tickets, he’s morally obligated to take you. The only person who gets priority over a flesh and blood brother is a son. You can’t even take your dad. If your dad is a half-way decent person, he’s going to say, “Take your brother!”. So really, a brother has no options. It’s the law. A brother-in-law, however, rates pretty low on the obligation totem pole. Brother-in-laws typically rate ahead of the mailman but behind random co-workers. In fact, cne of the most important things that men wished women could understand is that “their brother is an idiot”. So for anyone who carries no moral obligation to me other than his desire to keep sleeping with my sister (I’m not ok with it, but I’ve come to accept it), to graciously invite his over-intense know-it-all brother-in-law to the game…well, honest to God, we are talking Mother Teresa levels of kindness, here.
What made the whole day so surreal is that I’m still a man out of place in America. Having recently moved back to Indianapolis after nine years overseas, there are things I haven’t quite adjusted to yet. As happy as I was to have the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, I had kind of an aw-shucks, Meet Me in Saint Louis feel about the whole thing. I am one of those people who has a moral stance on everything (I told you I was a douche), and frankly could never have comprehended spending $900 on the face value of a ticket, let alone the two grand for a resold one. The idea of going to the Super Bowl was just a non-starter for me. Tickets would have to just drop out of the sky into my lap in order for me to go.
And that’s what happened, and then some.
I had plans to meet Pat downtown around PM on game day, but he called me just minutes after I got home from the Legends Brunch. Neither my nor my phone’s batteries were fully charged when Pat told me to head downtown immediately. He had not only landed us game tickets, but tickets to a swanky pre-game party as well.
Parties and I don’t mix well. It’s not that I’m anti-social exactly, but I suck at small talk and don’t mingle well. Swanky and I aren’t all the best of terms either. Come to that, I hate pre-games too. But this is the Super Bowl and that changes everything. I dropped everything and sped downtown with all due haste. Of course, when I got there, I parked north of Saint Claire on Capital, because I was in a hurry, but there was no way I was paying more than 15 bucks to park. I’m just that kind of cheap where even a once in a lifetime chance to go to a private Super Bowl party under Lucas Oil Stadium isn’t enough to pry a twenty from my wallet.
When I finally caught up with Pat near the entrance to the Super Bowl village, I can’t describe what I saw. “Nice job, Nate,” you’re thinking. “Way to be a writer. You’re clearly quite talented at this whole ‘communicating your inner thoughts to the world’ gig.”
Shut your face. I’ve had enough of your judgment.
Seriously, the atmosphere was overwhelming. There were people zipping over my head, bands playing, race cars, people telling me I’m going to hell screaming in my ear, celebrities, nobodies, everybodies. It was chaos. By the way, does every Super Bowl have the people screaming about hell, or is that a special Indianapolis treat?
It was insanity. I tried to take pictures, to take notes, to do anything to capture the bigness, the energy, the ‘I can’t believe we used to think Union Station was a big deal’ vibe of the whole scene. It just wasn’t possible.
I’m terrible photographer anyway, but something about the second picture is perfect. It’s dark. You can’t see anything. The people look unhappy somehow. I failed so completely to capture what it was like that day, that to me it symbolizes the futility of even trying. No matter how much effort I put into it, the atmosphere around Indianapolis that day fades from experience and memory so fast. It’s like a flash grenade went off in our downtown and we are left groping in the mist of colors and blindness to try and describe what it was like. I hate to say, “You had to be there…” but honestly, you just had to be there.
We picked our way through the crowd, stopping to admire the race cars first, because what are we? Animals? When we finally entered the Convention Center to head into the Luke, it was like passing through a TSA convention. The aisles, the metal detectors, the body cavity searches made it feel like we were about to board a flight. I wondered if the Hoosier Dome wasn’t about to land again, having returned from its trip home to Venus from whence it came. The giant flying saucer was going to land and take us all to football nirvana, just as soon as we pitched our water bottles and got wanded by a giant named Tiny.
What’s more annoying than a Super Bowl Journal? A two part Super Bowl journal! SCORE!