The Last Month: I tell pretty much everyone I run into how excited I am about going to the Bears/Packers game. I count down the days. I plan on wearing my Brian Urlacher jersey and being completely obnoxious!
Sunday, September 9th: The Bears crush the Colts. Holy cow! The Bears were AWESOME!!! They looked unstoppable! Brandon Marshall + Jay Culter = OFFENSIVE PERFECTION! The Packers lose to San Francisco. They looked like they had NO defense! And San Francisco completely shut down Aaron Rogers! After the game, I am more convinced than ever that we are going to crush them with our new high-flying offense and our fabulous defense! I can't wait until Thursday!
Sunday, September 9th, 10:30 pm: Actual conversation between John and I:
John: I need you to promise me you're not going to be obnoxious on Thursday night.
Me: Pfft! Whatever! I am going to be completely obnoxious because we are totally going to win.
John: No, seriously. I need you to promise me. I am going to be in Russia on Thursday, and I'm not going to be able to come and help you. There's going to be all kinds of alcohol involved, and I don't want to be on the other side of the globe when I get a text saying some drunk Packer fan has had enough of your obnoxiousness.
Wednesday, Noon: I have lunch with Karen, my favorite obnoxious Packer friend. I remind her that we need to place our wager for the game. We are famous for our wagers. They are epic. And this time I know I am *finally* going to win one. We finally settle on this: the loser has to wear the winner's jersey during the 12/16 Bears vs. Packers game at the winner's sports bar. Pictures will be taken.
Wednesday, 5:20 pm: I announce that swim practice will be shortened on Thursday because Carrie (head coach) and I are going to the game together. Our swimmers are overjoyed. One swimmer informs me that I will get beer spilled on me if I wear my Bears jersey to the game. I dismiss this notion.
Thursday 9 am: Mike Greenberg picks Chicago to win.
Thursday 9:01 am: The first seeds of anxiety start to sprout in my stomach. Greenberg's picks are the kiss of death.
Thursday 10:20 am: I hear the Jay Cultler "Good Luck" sound clip for the first time, and immediately know Green Bay's defense is going to kick his you-know-what. Anxiety in my stomach increases a little bit.
Thursday, 2:00 pm: I put on my #54 Chicago Bears jersey. The first seeds of worry set in about actually wearing a Bears jersey to a Packers game.
Thursday, 3:30 pm: I step out onto the swim deck wearing my jersey to a chorus of boo's. Several swimmers are seriously angry about my Bears jersey. Angry. Girls who have never been anything but sweet and kind make startling statements about the Bears.
Thursday, 5:30 pm: Practice ends and I get more abuse. Carrie, a Packers fan, puts on her Clay Matthews jersey and gets resounding cheers from the girls.
Thursday, 6:45 pm: We arrive at Lambeau Field, pay $10 to park in the nearby grocery store's parking lot, and start walking over to the stadium. For all of my bravado, I am a little nervous about wearing my jersey.
Thursday, 7:00 pm: The gentleman ticket-taker scans my ticket, gives me a little pat on the back, and tells me to enjoy the game. There are Packers fans everywhere, but lots of Bears fans, too. I am quietly smug about what I think is going to happen during the game. We head to our seats, and I am relieved that the people around me appear to be normal. Any by "normal" I mean they only have small "The Bears Still Suck" stickers stuck to their foreheads and green and gold sweatshirts. All the crazy, flag-waving, Styrofoam cheesehead-wearing fans and naked-from-the-waist-up-and-spray-painted fans are below us. No one says anything about the fact that I'm wearing a Bears jersey. At least not loudly. Everyone is in a good mood, and every single Packer fan is joyous about being in Lambeau. The players are on the field warming up.
Thursday, 7:00 pm - 7:20 pm: High school cheerleaders jump around on the sideline (I love that they use high school cheerleaders instead of flashy, professional ones), a drum line bounces around and plays cadences, former players in attendance are announced, and there's a short video on what to do in case of an emergency. There are large, easy-to-read signs posted throughout the stadium that tell fans what to do in the case of "fan misconduct". I am strangely comforted by those signs. Good to know they have procedures in place. I program the number into my iPhone* just in case we score one-too-many touchdowns and make all those beer-drinking fans angry. A man sings the Star Spangled Banner and four huge American flags are unfurled by what looks like community members (nice). Fly-over; completely awesome.
Thursday, 7:20 pm: Bears win the coin toss, elect to defer. I am bouncing with excitement on my small section of stadium bleacher. I chat with the man next to me. He seems like a nice enough guy.
Thursday, 13:37 first quarter: Jay Cutler sacked. Fans around me thrilled. Much high-fiving. Man on my right reaches over me to high-five Carrie. I remain optimistic. I tell Jay to just shake it off.
Thursday, 4:32 first quarter: Jay Cutler sacked. More rejoicing around me. Much shouting about the Bears still "sucking".
Thursday, 13:01 second quarter: Green Bay Packers kick a field goal. I remain optimistic.
Thursday, 1:54 second quarter: Mass hysteria as Packers fake the field goal and make a touchdown. I am secretly impressed, but do not admit it out loud.
Thursday, 1:13 second quarter: Jay Culter throws interception. Seriously?!?!!
Halftime: Carrie and I go to find some dinner. Packers fans throw minor insults my way. Packer fan allows me to go ahead of him as we climb the steps back to our seats. Neighbor man and I chat. I say nice things about Clay Matthews. He doesn't have any nice compliments to give me back. He asks if I'm a Northwestern fan. I explain that I went to Illinois. He rolls his eyes. We discover that we both share a hatred for Michigan. So at least there's that...
Thursday, 8:53 third quarter: Bears SCORE!! Thank God for Robbie. Neighbor man is gone. I tell his wife I need someone to high five, she says, "Sorry."
Thursday, 3:18 third quarter: Jay Cutler throws another (!!!!) interception. Seriously getting mad (on the inside).
Thursday, 1:02 third quarter: Fumble recovery!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am the only one who jumps up in excitement. Remembering my promise to John, I quickly sit back down.
Thursday, 11:37 fourth quarter: Jay Cutler throws fourth interception. Fans leap up and yell and cheer. I am the only one sitting in my row. I start to wonder if I will be able to convince Carrie to leave before the game is over.
Thursday, 11:22 fourth quarter: Donald Driver scores a touchdown. The fans are beside themselves with excitement. Based on fan reaction alone, I am convinced that Driver could be the first man to be unanimously elected Governor of Wisconsin.
Thursday, 8:14 fourth quarter: Aaron Rogers intercepted. Fans irate. Completely mad. Shocked that such a thing could possibly happen.
Thursday, 6:54 fourth quarter: Bears score a touchdown! Nice man on my right humors me with a high five.
Thursday, 4:09 fourth quarter: Jay Cutler sacked. I struggle to stay positive.
Thursday, 3:07 fourth quarter: Jay Cutler, intercepted. I ask Carrie if she's ready to go. She is having a wonderful time, but takes pity on me and agrees to leave. In an effort to get out of the stadium unscathed, I tell each and every Packer fan in my row that it was a good game. Packer fans thank me and then remind me that the "Bears Still Suck."
Thursday, 3:00 fourth quarter: Packer fan tells me to have a safe trip home.
Thursday, 11:54 pm: I check my phone and notice that I have 21 notifications from Facebook. I know that at least half of them are going to be comments from Karen.
Friday, 6:30 am: Girls wake me up. My first thought is, "I am never going to hear the end of it." My second thought is, "I look horrible in green and gold."
Gosh, I love football season, don't you? Go Bears!
PS For the record: on the whole, I was treated with respect the entire time I was at the game. Packers fans, for the most part, are good people. They love their team. LOVE THEM.
*I didn't really do this.