Wisconsin: Part 3

It was the night after the Packer game…  And they lost… Big time.  17-0.  But it was preseason, so who cares?!!

 

It was just great to be a part of the game day atmosphere with family and friends and prepare for yet another season of hard hits and epic pigskin battles.  So we celebrated, Wisconsin style…  We went to the bar.

 

We walked into the Harbor Bar in style as if we owned the place, immediately grooving to the top 40 hits blasting through the speakers.  We mingled and drank with the locals; clad with green and yellow face paint all over our bodies, with of course the American Flag bandana wrapped around my forehead.  What can I say?  I love my country!

 

It didn’t take long for the drinks to start pouring, and the dance floor looked more and more appealing with each shot of Yager sliding down my throat.  I looked at Nick, and he looked at me.  We didn’t even have to say anything.  Our 6th sense beams of communication connected and we knew exactly what we were going to do.  “Lets do this,” I said, responding to his nod of approval, and we stepped out onto the waxed wooden floor, greeting a group of bachelorette party goers waiting for some Wisconsin bachelors to sweep them off their feet.

 

Within seconds we began to impress with our vast collection of dance moves, ranging from the Miley Cyrus twerks to the smooth and sensual hip flow from the “Teach Me How to Dougie” Era.  I even made my way back to my roots, the Western Swing, a dance I had mastered at a young age when my partner and I got 2nd place in Mrs. Lyons 6th grade dance contest (I still think we got robbed of grand champion, but that’s a whole other story).

 

It was then when she came up to me and brought her mouth close to my ear.  She had prepared a soft phrase; I think something along the lines of the music selection.  It was either that or my strong resemblance to Aaron Rodgers…  Probably the later.  We got to talking, which led to a drink.

 

“Could this be the one?” I asked myself.  Now this was no boundary babe by any stretch of the imagination, and she had a bit of an attitude, but she was pretty decent looking and was sporting some Packer attire, so I found it in my best judgment to afford her a piece of my time.

 

Her name was Erica, and she was definitely playing hard to get.  But I saw right through the guise and never lost my composure, even with the obnoxious idiot behind us throwing terrible pick up lines towards her.  He was desperate, so I just sat back and watched him dig his own grave.  He couldn’t have made it any easier for me to swoop in for the kill.

 

There I was, just about ready to lay down the finishing move when my younger sister approached the scene.  She’s a great soul full of energy, but still has much to learn, especially from me.  She took a look at Erica and gave her opinion, for which being a patriotic American and supporter of the First Amendment, I totally appreciate.  “She looks trashy,” she whispered in my ear.  Only one problem; her “Whisper” was heard all across the bar, and right into the direction of my new Wisconsin interest…

 

Long story short, that there went my chances.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bummed out, but no matter what, you always have to side with family in situations like these.  I guess I’ll never know if Erica was truly the one…

 

No matter the circumstance, there was no need to fret over lost love at this time, for come morning it would be my last day in Wisconsin.  And I had to make it count!  Being an established beer drinker, I awoke bright and early at sunup with no consequences from the night before.  I wish I could say the same for little sis, but as I touched on earlier, she is prone to making foolish decisions from time to time.

 

And I’m sorry to say, but she wasn’t fooling anybody when she tried sneaking into the bathroom for a little relief of the bottle flu after a far prolonged sleep session past noon.  I’ll never quite know for certain, but I think it was the sound of her coughing up dinosaurs that bellowed throughout the halls of my grandparents that gave it away; fair retribution for ruining my chances with Erica.

 

“Hey how’s it going?” she tried pulling off with an innocent smile on her face towards mom and grandma…  Right after she had finished barfing her brains out in the toilet.  My mom and I looked at her and laughed our butts off.  My grandma acted like she didn’t know what was going on, but she knew full well the mess that Emily had gotten herself into.  I’m sure she’s gotten herself into a few messes from time to time.  It’s in our blood, and I know she totally related to the experience Em was facing when she blasted chunks of destruction into the transportation sector of Waupaca’s sewage treatment plant.

 

However, with a little help from her family followed by a pontoon ride around the Chain O’Lakes with Captain Brian at the helm, she was back and business and we were off to a great last day in Wisconsin.  The cavalry was out and about across the lake with everyone in central Wisconsin conversing to Waupaca to enjoy their beautiful Saturday on the lake.  And boy was I eating every up every minute of it!

 

It was a fun-filled day of chilling at the lake with our beer and kooskis…  POSSIBLY being a little heavy on the beer.  After sucking a few cold ones down and suffering nibble wounds from the baby blue gill roaming about the lake (the little bastards just kept biting at me!), I was out on the dock rockin’ out with in my Speedo with the ol’ guitar belting out the tunes of Neil Young, Nicki Minaj, and Carly Rae Jepson of “Call Me Maybe” fame.  The passing patrons were loving it, often stopping for a cheer or two, further adding to my confidence level.  And it didn’t stop there.

 

I continued with the entertainment, moving onto the floating dock by showing off my greatest diving board moves, from flips, to dives, and even some mega huge cannon balls.  I was doing it all.

 

Out in the distance, I spotted some honeys passing by on their kayaks.  We made eye contact, and with my 20/15 vision I could make out a slight blush coming from one of them.  It had to be my rock hard washboard abs complemented with my tight fit Speedo that they found so admiring. I guess those years of push-ups, planks, and sit-ups finally paid off.

 

My mind was racing for ideas for my next trick.  They were coming my way at a swift pace.  Impressing them rapidly became my number one priority.  I had almost conceived the perfect flip in mind and was on the verge of execution.  Then all of a sudden, a voice hollered from behind me, disrupting my much important concentration.

 

“Belly Flop!” it shouted.  I turned to my back to find the culprit.  I figured it would be a cowardly being hiding behind the oak trees that guarded the beachfront.  Instead, I saw Nick holding his beer in the air with a stupid grin on his face, proud of his clumsily made comment.

 

“Shut up Nick” I sneered back, but the chants kept on coming, this time from the rest of the cousins.  I was a second from swimming over and beating him up, when I heard more cheers, this time from the middle of the lake.  I looked back and there was a pontoon full of young bucks egging me on.

 

I was pretty upset at this whole conundrum I was in, the most upset I’ve been since my sister screwed me over with this girl named Erica; but at the same time, I was in total contemplation, for now there was a crowd to please.  I still remember the pain I went through at Kelsee Tower’s 6th grade graduation party (or 7th grade, anything before 8th grade is kind of fuzzy) when me, Ben Grimm, and some other dingus (I honestly forget the other boy was) decided to impress the girls with some belly flops in her pool.  Jesus Christ I remember it hurting like crap!  The worst part was, I had to act manly and pretend it didn’t hurt!  I was still a boy, and that kind of thing takes a toll during that part of your life!  Anyway, that was the last belly flop I ever did, and I vowed never to do another one as long as I lived.

 

But now the pressure was on, for another pontoon had shown up.  This time full of drunk buttholes, but still fans nonetheless who fancied themselves with the words “Belly” and “Flop” back to back and repeated over and over again.  It was getting harder to say no, but yet there was still not enough incentive to convince me it was a good idea.  So I stalled, hoping they would grow tired for their chanting and move on to the next thrill.

 

But these alcoholic lake venturers were determined, and the more I delayed, the harder they chanted.  AND to add to my luck, yet another pontoon showed up, further inflaming the excitement of the belly flop mantra.  “BELLY FLOP, BELLY FLOP!”  It got louder and louder, and from all corners of the Waupaca Chain o’ Lakes.  I swear people were reciting it from two lakes down.  They couldn’t see the action, but they knew something grandiose was about to happen, and wanted to be part of the experience.

 

In my world there are two types of pain.  The pain you experience after doing something foolish and not knowing of the consequences of your actions.  And then there’s the pain you experience with the full knowledge that what you’re about to do is going to hurt like hell, but it has to be done anyway, which takes much more courage than the prior.  And by God, I knew this was going to suck, but now with a crowd of 50+ waiting for the big jump and the kayak babes drawing closer in my line of sight anticipating the great performance, it was time to act, to sit up or shut up; and at this point I couldn’t let them down.

 

I took a deep breath and prepared myself for a leap that would send me into great agony, just like many of my heroes from the Green Bay Packers had faced in their moments where they had to make the choice of victory and sacrifice over failure and comfort.  I stepped onto the diving board, took a giant bounce, and launched myself into the air and into the spread eagle position, awaiting a dire misery for what seemed to last an eternity.  I was going down… And down… And down…  To meet my inevitable doom…

 

“PLOP!”  The sound of my bare belly smacking on the lake surface echoed across the lake as the pain of a thousand needles piercing my stomach vibrated throughout my skin, feeling as if I had flopped onto a bed of concrete before submerging into the murky water.  It was a struggle reaching the surface, for I could barely sense which way was up and which was down.  But from a will to see the beautiful Wisconsin scenery for at least a final moment, I miraculously arose from the dark depths of the lake to a crowd gone completely berserk.  Suddenly, the stinging sensation I had felt seconds before became miniscule to the glory I was receiving masked with a rush of adrenaline.  I had made the day of over 50 lake goers, 2 kayak babes, and a group of cousins who had initially summoned me to undertake this magnificent feat.  And with that feat, I was finally able to gather the respect I’d been seeking throughout the Fox Valley region.  My mother looked on, proud of her son and his most recent accomplishment, as if all of my previous achievements, getting my black belt, becoming an Eagle Scout, handing me my high-school diploma, and graduating from college had all lead up to this moment.  Something that Nicki Minaj would famously coin, “A moment she wishes she could have for life.”

 

It was almost a perfect day, minus the fact that I lost at a game of mini-golf that had taken place at the Tom Thumb mini-golf course, a Chain o’ Lake tradition as adamantly advertised at their club house.  Which wouldn’t have been so bad hadn’t it been for my little sister pointing out every time I missed a freaking shot!  “Oh gee Emily, I didn’t realize I missed the shot from the fact that my ball didn’t go into the hole.  Thanks for blurting it out Captain Obvious!”  Needless to say, I don’t need to go into too much detail about mini-golf.  It’s pretty boring anyway.

 

But no matter how unfortunate mini-golf was, my time in Wisconsin was coming to a close.  The next morning I would have to say goodbye to the wonderful state I had grown so fond of over the past week.  All good things must come to an end, but is it truly the end???

 

TO BE CONCLUDED…

Wisconsin Part 2: The Green Bay Packers

Friday, August 9th, 2013

 

I will never know exactly what drove me to walk into my grandparent’s garage that morning.  I had no purpose to enter, but some supernatural source kept guiding me up the stairs and out the door.  They say the Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways, and could’ve very well pushed me into an event that I would not want to miss.  OR it could’ve been the evil spirits released when Cousin Holly convinced Cousin Erin and myself to use a Ouija Board, a decision I’ve regretted ever since which has cursed the downstairs living room for the past 15 years (I still can’t sleep in there to this day).

 

No matter the cause, I turned the doorknob and immediately sensed turmoil.  I entered to my grandma flailing her arms about in panic as if the sky was falling.  “NO!  STOP!” She screamed in blood curdling fashion, just like in the slasher flicks right before the killer slices his poor victim into pieces.  Part of me wanted to step away from the pandemonium right then and there.  I mean, what if there was a killer on the loose?  I didn’t want to be the next!  But I couldn’t leave my grandma behind like that.  I had to find out what was eating at her soul; what was driving her bananas.  I mean, what the hay…  We’re family!

 

When I turned to my right, everything started to make sense.  It was so crystal clear why she was acting so hysterical, as if she had heard news that Aaron Rodgers had just gotten into a car accident and was in intensive care…

 

My grandpa was attempting to park the Lincoln.

 

For some reason, the Mercury was parked in an awkward position where as the task of maneuvering the Lincoln through the garage and into its normal dwelling proved much more difficult than usual.  I guess I could blame my pops for that one, but then again, if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be writing such an epic tale of miscommunication, one of the best recipes for failure in the business world.

 

 “To the left!  Stop! Back up! NO!”  My grandma was barking out orders so fast and so furious she could easily be mistaken for that Chef Ramsey guy on TV, and was driving my grandpa to shear madness.  He had endured a lot through the war, and she was inching him to the breaking point.  Her words and actions were becoming a giant blur.  Heck, even I was getting confused, but at the same time impressed at the sight of an 85 year old moving her arms and legs in the fashion of a Richard Simmons workout on crack!

 

My grandpa however was a different story.  All this bewilderment had pushed him to the edge.  “Screw it!” he mouthed through the windshield of the Lincoln right before he blasted his foot down on the pedal.  What followed was the sound of metal crushing on metal and a brand new streak of scratched paint etched onto the Mercury.  That was when all hell broke loose…  And my grandma lost her freaking marbles!

 

She was making noises I never knew existed!  The closest thing I could describe it to were the sounds in “Alien” where the baby alien pops out of the guy’s stomach.  But it was when she started smacking herself in the head with both hands when I knew action had to be taken, common sense for any person with an ounce of courage.

 

But that’s not what I did.  I just froze.  The world was crashing down all around me and I stood there, petrified.  “I couldn’t move a muscle!  “Wake up stupid!” I said to myself.  I needed a catalyst, something to strike a reaction to get my blood flowing once again.  Then came cousin Brian, true-blooded Eagle Scout and captain of the pontoon.  He maneuvered past grandma’s flying fists of fury and to the Lincoln to guide it back to its customary state.  Just the spark I needed.

 

With grandma’s attention diverted, I slothed across the garage and made my escape to the outside unnoticed, miraculously unscathed from the mayhem.  After taking a moment to digest what had just happened, I was reduced to the emotional condition that any man goes through after a near brush with death.  I started giggling like a little schoolgirl to the point where tears nearly streamed down my face.  And I couldn’t stop!

 

It’s one of the surreal survival stories that you just can’t make up.

 

I guess life throws us for loops sometimes, but we have to bounce back quick in order to press on and make it in this world, which can be said of the mangled Lincoln incident.  We had to move forward, for me, my sisters, Cousin Holly and her domestic partner Nick were on our way to see the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field!

 

Man we were all so excited.  So much that my older sister was almost charged with shoplifting at the supermarket right before the game.  Her mind was just racing like a racehorse at the thought of stepping into the great arena of beer, cheese, and athleticism.  Luckily for us, the people of Wisconsin are kind and understanding, and let us off with a simple warning, knowing how important this moment was for us; something you just don’t see in the other NFL markets (no offense to the other teams).  And thank God, for that!  I would’ve pulled a grandma if we missed the game just because she got sent to the pin!

 

Most people have heard of Green Bay because of football, but don’t understand and would never understand its captivating appeal unless they visited, for it’s unlike any other city with a professional football team.  It’s barely considered a city with its 100,000 residents, where the whole state of Wisconsin travels far and long to converge and watch their Packers on game day.  Where the towering skyscrapers surrounding the stadium in a metropolitan city are replaced with farmed planes and a suburban neighborhood, and your parking lot is a family’s backyard, located a  block away from the stadium.  You are greeted with open arms and are invited to use their bathroom, cook on their grill, and even join them for a miller light or two.  It doesn’t even matter if you’re rooting for the other team.  The Packer nation welcomes anybody with the respect they deserve, as long as the same decency is returned.  That is, unless you’re a Bears fan (Don’t even get me started on them.  They’re awful.  I kind of want to throw up thinking about it right now.  Yuck.  UHUAGH!).

 

Come game day, church’s rearrange their scheduled sermons, stores shut down, and the city of Green Bay along with its neighbors gather around to cheer for what is truly their team.  Not a team owned by a mega billionaire or controlled by corporate interests who give ridiculous names for their stadium just to promote their obnoxious products or company (Mall of America Field?  Gillete Stadium? Century Link Field? Sorry Seahawk fans but I mean, c’mon!), but a team that is bought and paid for through shareholders made up of members of the Packer nation, for which I am proud to say that I am a part owner.

 

The people’s team.  It’s what’s taught to the children of Wisconsin and decedents of Packer fans.  Bred in green and gold, they learn early on about the significance of their team, and what it means to be a part of it.  It is the only small town team that could withstand the turbulent years of the NFL when money was not accessible and the talent pool was lacking They were able to survive as an NFL franchise when no other small town team could, with its dignity still intact no less.  In fact, when the team was on the verge of going broke, the city came together and pitched in to cover all of the bills and expenses in order to keep the team alive.

 

Then there’s the legend of Vince Lombardi, a man faced with prejudice his whole life for having an “i” at the end of his name.  A man who fought tooth and nail to follow his dreams and become a head coach in the NFL, even if nobody was willing to give him the chance.  A man, who for when all the odds were against him, took a rag tag group of grunts, the worst in the NFL (and the only team that would take him) and turn them into the greatest championship powerhouse the game has ever had, all while becoming the most respected man in the history of the sport.

 

Or the countless stories fans have to share about their team passed down from generation to generation.  Spend enough time in Wisconsin and you’re bound to run into somebody whose family stories date back to the days when Curly Lambeau founded the team and can tell you of innumerable experiences of traveling to Green Bay to endure the freezing temperatures just to watch their boys battle it out on the frozen tundra; the most memorable being the Ice Bowl, an infamous game in which the Packers clashed with the Cowboys over a field that was completely frozen over with a wind chill temperature of nearly -50 degrees; a game where the Packers miraculously came back and scored a touchdown at the final seconds of the game to send them onto Super Bowl II.   A game that my grandpa attended, in which he had help enduring thanks to a bottle of whiskey.  I am still in awe whenever he tells of the story.

 

And even after attending one game (even if it’s only a pre-season game where they lose big time, or a playoff game where they go 16-1 for the season and then blow it), you realize that it’s more than just a game for the people Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Packer fans as a whole.  It’s a way of life.  A supportive culture of people who will go out of their way to make you feel at home and who will risk life and limb for their team.  It’s because the Packers are as much a part of them as they are to the players, coaches, staff and executives, and without their contribution, the Packers most likely wouldn’t even exist.  Green Bay would just be another small mid-west town, and the team would’ve moved elsewhere and would be just like any other big city team, which makes visiting Green Bay during a Packer game and going to Lambaeu an experience you can’t find anywhere else.  An experience I hope to share with lots of friends and family for years to come, and a tradition I plan to pass down to my children someday, as it has been passed down to me from members of my family.

 

So here’s to the beginning of football season.  Here’s to the memories it brings.  The good feelings, the bad feelings…  Here’s to the Green Bay Packers.  GO PACK GO!!!

Wisconsin: Part 1

Is Wisconsin the best state in the Union?  Well, I don’t know if I can answer that with honesty since I haven’t been to every state, but this last trip to the badger state really left an impression on me.  And when I say impression, I’m talking the first time you listened to The Dark Side of the Moon impression.  Yea, it was that good.  Now you’re probably thinking Wisconsin’s just another typical Midwest state with a bunch of cheese.  But it’s so much more that, and nearly impossible to capture it’s prominence in just a few paragraphs.  But hey, I’m always up for a challenge, so here it goes.

 

I rolled into Wisco on a Tuesday morning, meeting my family at a paradise called the Waupaca Chain O’ Lakes where my grandparents reside in house on the lake with a little cottage on the side which has remained nearly untouched since its creation in the late 19th, early 20th century.  Now, a house with 150 feet of lake front property plus a cozy cabin on the side would be a dream for any American to own, which was the case for my grandparents.  However, their ever-increasing age has prevented them from being able to keep up with this beautiful piece of prime real estate.  Therefore, it must be sold, and knowing it was the last time I may ever get to step foot in such a place that has been such an amazing part of my life, I had to make this experience count, in the best way possible.

 

Shortly after my arrival, I took a seat at the fire pit located halfway between the beach with a floating dock a short swim away and the porch of the cottage.  Sitting across from me was my mother, and I believe we were discussing the hit song of the summer “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, which happens to be her favorite song right now.  Now back in my high school days, she would’ve slapped me for listening to such a song with lyrics like “What rhymes with hug me” and whose music video has naked girls running about, but she seemed to be well aware of both scenarios, and was ok with it, which still baffles to me, but that is neither here nor there.

 

Down the stairs from the deck of the house comes my cousin’s daughter, Taylor, one of the toughest cookies east of the Mississippi.  The kind that doesn’t take crap from anybody.  My previous encounters with Taylor have resulted in dirty looks, where she squishes her face and sticks out her tongue, disgusted at the sight of a strange relative attempting to make conversation.  And who can blame her?  I can’t imagine what a 2nd grader of her stature has to put up with during school hours with all the unruly kids running amuck.  She has to have an attitude in this day and age.  It’s the only way they survive.

 

It is even rumored that she once beat one of her classmates up, just for the fact that he was a boy.  I can’t confirm the story to be true, but I have no reason not to believe it.  In fact, I do believe it.

 

But even the mightiest of 8 year olds occasionally let their guard down, even if it’s only for a second.  She approached my mother and I and shot me a look of confusion. I sat there, anticipating the devastating insult that would soon be thrown in my face.  “Just get it over with,” I thought to myself.  I knew it was going to hurt, but how much?

 

She opened her mouth and I braced myself for the finishing blow.  The subsequent words pierced my heart as if it was made of warm butter.  A phrase I would never forget for the rest of my life.

 

“Are you Aaron Rodgers?” She asked.

 

Aaron Rodgers.  The quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, and critically agreed THE best quarterback in the NFL today.  It was a question so innocent, so sincere, and so genuine.  A smile formed from ear to ear across my face, for it was quite possibly one of the greatest questions I’ve ever been asked.

 

No matter how mean she can be, how many times she bosses people around or intimidates you with slaps and bruises, Taylor will always be ok in my book.  And from that moment on, I knew it was going to be one of the best vacations ever!

 

Shortly after the infamous incident, I joined my older sister along with her newly pronounced fiancée to the harbor bar, a local watering hole that I’d be frequenting often during my stint in Waupaca, where you could pull up by pontoon and be served right there on your boat.  It was awesome!

 

There again, I received another comment on my resemblance to Aaron Rodgers.  This time from a 50+ year-old cougar.  She wasn’t exactly my type, but nonetheless I was quite flattered, so we chatted about all of the famous NHL players she lived next to and how I should check out all their houses and stop by for a drink and say hello.  Yade yade ya.  I wasn’t really paying that much attention.  I was just stoked on the fact that I had been in Wisconsin for less than 4 hours, and everybody I ran into thought I was Aaron Rodgers.

 

Now in Wisconsin, the Packers are more than a football team, and people loose their freaking mind over Aaron Rodgers.  But I’ll talk about that at a later date.  I could write a mega novel about Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers that would make any piece of Ayn Rand literature look like child’s play.  The important thing to understand is that all of this Aaron Rodgers talk made me brew up an idea.  An idea that was too good to pass up.  Now a lot of my ideas spring up at the whim of a moment, and most of the time when this happens, and after I’ve had a little while to think it through, the idea ends up being bad, and the consequences are brutal.  This was one of those times, except I didn’t have time to think.  I just had to act, even if it meant receiving a giant scolding from my mother.  It was a risk I was willing to take.

 

I walked up the staircase to my grandmother’s living room and got into character.  God bless my grandma, I love her to death.  BUT she can be ruthless sometimes, and for that reason, I make her life a living hell whenever I’m around.  It’s the only way I know how to tell her that I love her and that she’s the best grandma I still have.  And she loves Aaron Rodgers to death.  More so than all of her grandchildren.  Combined.

 

I enter the house in a state of gloom.  My grandma looks at me with concern.  “What’s wrong honey?”  She asks.

 

I delivered her a stare that would slay the likes of Chuck Norris.

 

“Oh grandma, you didn’t hear?  It’s all over the news…  Aaron Rodgers just got in a car accident.  He’s in critical condition.  He may be paralyzed…”

 

“OH NO!” She replied in a most somber fashion as she lowered her head into her arms, tears ready to burst from her eyes at any moment.  She was absolutely devastated.  Within the two seconds that I could stand to contain myself from bursting into uncontrollable laughter, I saw her age about 10 years to the point where I nearly gave her a heart attack.  But I couldn’t resist the temptation.  I fell on the floor and laughed so hard I almost peed my pants.

 

“You little Sh**!” she scowled at me in fury, waving her arms in a shooing motion.  If you ever make your dad swear, you know you were in trouble.  Your mother, you best be running for the hills, because your ass will be met with the spanking stick… IF you’re lucky.  But every time I’ve made my grandma swear, I feel as if I’ve received the Medal of Honor.  I smugly trot about and brag about the incident, while others around me hang off my every word from the back-story of receiving such a prestigious award.

 

To be fair to my grandma, she was in disbelief at the fact that I had once again fooled her after years of torment.  She ought to know better by now, but it’s those few determined souls whose creativity flourishes to find a way around, time and time again.  If I could, I would visit my grandma every day, but unfortunately I fear that she would drop dead after a month of relentless grief.

 

That night, after having a fantastic fish fry at my Uncle Mike’s followed by some serenading songs on the guitar, and probably one too many old fashions, I took a moment to sit at my grandparents dock to reflect upon the events of the day. Out in the distance across the lake, something caught my eye.  It was a glitter of flashing lights in the distance towards the east as if there was a rock concert smack dab in the middle of Appleton Wisconsin.  But why Appleton?  And why was it so big?  “Oh well,” I said to myself.  I just didn’t care enough to investigate the situation and thus made the decision to retire into a deep slumber…  A decision that I would soon learn to regret.

 

3 hours later, I awoke to disorder.  Violent chatter, blinking lights; I had no idea what was going on, for my mind was functioning at a half-conscious state knowing full well that chaos was hammering me from all directions, but at the same time, I was still dreaming.  I couldn’t move.  I couldn’t talk.  I couldn’t wake up…

 

I was freaking out man!

 

Pounding rain continued to blast the walls, and the sound of 1000’s of gun shots tormented me continuously minute after minute.  With my mind running a million miles an hour I tried to make out where I was, but from the evidence I could gather from all the pandemonium, the most logical location I could muster in my head was a mix of being trapped in a tent at the boundary waters during a flash flood that was being pummeled with World War II mortars, sending the tent walls crashing down at any moment.

 

“BOOM!”  A thunder crash sent me kicking and flailing in the upstairs bedroom of the cottage.  I glanced out the window.  Lightning was flashing so fast it look as if there was a mega-sized strobe light pulsating in the middle of the lake.  From the sound of horizontal rain drops slamming against the cottage and wooden debris ripped from trees that have stood their ground since the colonial times, the most rational idea would be to get the hell out of there, cause this place was going to tear apart at any moment.  But I couldn’t resist.  The sight was just too intriguing.  I had to watch.

 

The sky was perfectly layered with clouds swirling about like the Milky Way galaxy.  Rain shot at the windows so fast I was amazed it didn’t shatter the glass.  “An alien invasion” I thought to myself.  I honestly thought for a moment that aliens were coming down to take us over, and the worst part was that I was content with it!  But I knew better.  I saw the debris of busted up sidewalks and uprooted trees in Minnesota, and have heard of such phenomenon in recent days.  This was a good ol’ fashion Midwest storm; one that caused a blackout across the Fox River valley of Wisconsin.

 

I was in awe of the havoc rustling about, and stayed up for over a half hour watching as Mother Nature destroyed the weak vegetation standing in her wake.  With the natural strobe light erratically gleaming and an occasional howl of thunder, she would toss around the lakeside remains at any and all manmade structures sprawled around the shores of the lake, sending a message to remind us that she would always be in charge, and never be stopped…  No matter what.

 

It was quite a show, but the storm started to die down to a manageable rate whereas I could slip back into bed.  It was then that I had an epiphany.  I shot up, my mouth agape, heart pounding.  It was a realization that paralleled the invention of the light bulb by Thomas Edison, and the light bulb burned bright in my mind, guiding me towards my next move.

 

“MY CLOTHES!” I exclaimed as I scurried down the steps out onto the porch…  and into a giant puddle of water.  The porch, only protected by a screen, had let a flood of water seep through, covering everything in its path.  And it was on that porch where my entire catalog of valuables laid…

 

My clothes?  Completely soaked.  Guitar?  Drenched.  Dad’s super crossword puzzle book?  Destroyed.  Hot sauce?  Lost cause.  iPad?  Too bad.

 

What a bummer buzzkill to an almost perfect first day in Wisconsin.  But if you know me, I never let the turkey’s get me down for too long.  My iPad survived, and my clothes along with the guitar eventually dried out.  I was rocking and rolling again in no time, and the Armageddon hot sauce still had enough kick to send me into a hallucinogenic state the day after when applied to my famous hot wings, in which I would end up sitting against the wall uncontrollably shaking, mumbling gibberish of how much I loved my Grandma and that I’m going to miss her when I’m gone.  You know, the type of stuff you say right before you’re going to die.  So all’s well that ends well!

 

But it wasn’t quite over yet.  Soon, myself along with a few choice family members would venture to a land of sacred ground and significance to the people of Wisconsin.  The Mecca of the Mid-West.  Lambeau Field.  We were going to see the Green Bay Packers…

 

TO BE CONTINUED…