Archive for October 20th, 2008

The pride of Wisconsin

And I don’t mean lions.  Or Lions.  Yesterday, I went to see the Packers clobber the Colts in a sensational game at Lambeau.  The weather was so perfect — crisp and cool and windy, but also sunny and bright.  Really good football weather.  And the company was great.  Aside from the odd Colts guy behind me, I got to spend the day with 70,000 or so Packer fans, including my two aunts and my mama.  It was just great.  That was at the game.  Before the game and after the game are, though, as they say, a different story.

Because we live in Madison and because Green Bay is about two and a half hours away and because it was an afternoon game and fall (meaning it would be dark on the drive back), we opted to take the Packer Backer bus to and from the game.   The bus is an option we’ve used before, but never with any frequency.  The bus is something of a well-kept secret.  My aunt Terry discovered it years ago when she was out campaigning for a local candidate.  Approaching a man doing lawn work with a yardsign for the opposition beside him, but noticing his car held a bumper sticker for the green and gold, Terry told him she was from Green Bay.  She was nonplussed he didn’t run to give her a hug when she announced this.  She shook the feeling off, however, and persevered.  She forced him to talk about the team’s prospects that year, as well as her candidate’s greatness.  He took her literature, gave her his business card and informed her of the Packer Backer group, of which he was president.  This is how my family came to know of the bus.  They leave South Towne (they used to leave from Monona) hours before home games (though not the ones for Milwaukee ticket holders) and drop you off at Kroll’s across from the stadium and take you home again, all for $25.  It’s not a bad deal for not having to drive and park.  Plus, the bus driver was deft at navigating us out of Green Bay on back roads my mom didn’t even recognize.  [My mom is from GB].  But, it turns out, the bus comes with a different price tag.  And it’s a lot more than $25 and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to afford to pay it again.

To be fair, there are two buses, aptly called Bus Number One and Bus Number Two.  Bus Number Two is known as the quiet bus, whereas Bus Number One is not.  By the time Terry called to get us our seats, there were only three seats left and they were all on Bus Number One.  How bad could it really be, we thought.  I mean, it’s a bus.  We’re all adults (though there were some kids — I actually wish there’d been more; maybe things would have quieted down), it’s eleven in the morning, it’s only a two and a half hour ride.   Oops.  Score one for Bus Number One and zero for Kate.

It started out harmless enough, though I was quickly asked to move from my nice window seat to an aisle seat in the way back to accommodate a late couple wanting to sit together.  Shortly after this, I could see that nearly everyone had brought a cooler and the drinks were flowing.  Some were drinking Bloody Marys, some chocolate vodka with coffee.  As we all know, I am far from a teetotaler but I was a tad surprised — mostly in the, oh, that’s cute sense, not the alarmed sense.  I went back to my book.  Soon, though, I was interrupted by jello shots.  Yes, green and gold jello shots were paraded up and down the aisle of the bus and everyone was offered one, two, three or more.  I, again, declined.  Though they looked kinda fun they (a) had whipped cream on them — ick! and (b) it was about noon and I didn’t want to sleep through the game.  After this, more jello shots came down the aisles.  These were called Fuzzy Monkeys.  And everyone acted like they knew what that was.  Probably around the same time this is all going on, two women are selling raffle tickets to win various crappy items people brought, I assume, from their basements (or, like ours, from Walgreens) with the proceeds going to a local boys’ rehabilitative ranch.  Then came the woman down the aisle with the game pools to bet on.  [I actually won $10.  Hooray!  My mom won $15.  Double hooray!].  After most of this had subsided, we hit highway 41, which takes us straight up to Green Bay.  At this point, the music starts and videos come on the tv screens.  A million different songs rewritten with Packer lyrics are playing at decibel-breaking levels and the karaoke machine starts to make it down the aisle.  And we are all forced — I’m serious, forced — to sing MULTIPLE times.  So, we have to sing things like — set to the tune of Beck’s Loser — “Oh gosh darn it, don’t you know? I’m a Cheesehead, baby, the pride of Wisconsin.”  And then there’s the famous Bears Still Suck song with lyircs like, “The Bears still suck.  Still, I wouldn’t mind Ditka run over by a truck.  They make fun of Wisconsin, but I don’t mind.  Where do you think they go every chance they get?  The Bears still suck.”  As if this weren’t bad enough, that Chumbawamba song from all those years ago — remember the “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down?”  — comes on and the GB-pajama-clad, green-and-gold-mardi-gras-bead-wearing karaoke woman starts doing this dance in the aisle that she thinks goes with the song.  You can imagine, I’m sure: she goes down, then shoots back up and then does a weird boxing motion to “You’re never gonna keep me down.”  So then — and I SWEAR I was avoiding eye contact — she grabs me and insists I dance with her.  Of course I laugh and politely decline.  She says, “Yes, come on, it’ll be fun.”  I say, “No, it really won’t be.”  She says “Yeah, come on” and drags me up with her and there I am doing this super cool Chumbawamba dance of hers.  Awesome.  This is just awesome.

Luckily — or maybe not — I’m not the only one forced to dance on the bus.  They made the “rookies” — peeps who naively admitted to never having ridden the bus before — do some goofy “boogie” (GOD, I hate that word) for what seemed like an eternity.  The braces-clad teenager dancing in the aisle next to me turned to his dad during the dance and said, “I think this is the longest song ever made.”  And then there were the odd folks who danced of their own volition — getting up right in front of me and polka-ing to every polka played, which, it being Wisconsin, were quite a few.

On the way back, it was quieter, but we kinda got yelled at for that, with one of the Packer Backer officers screaming into her microphone, “Am I on Bus Number One or Bus Number Two?”  When the guy across the aisle from me started to snore, though, I was annoyed, but mostly relieved.  At least it was quieter than karaoke.


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