|October 5, 2010
||Rick "Guy0nthec0uch" Bridges
| "Are you coming to bed," she said wearily. After the trip we just took I wont lie and say it sounded like a bad idea. "In a minute, I just want to let everyone know we made it home safely." That's mostly true. But honestly, I wanted to jot down some thoughts after our 10 hour drive home from the Georgia Dome. You see, the past 72 hours have been crazy. I'll start from the beginning.
Today is my anniversary. My wife and I decided that for our gift to each other we would drive the 10 hours to Atlanta and watch the Falcons play the San Francisco 49ers. When your wife throws out an idea like that you jump on it! So, I promptly went to the Atlanta Falcons website and found a deal. We ended up with tickets to see both the 49ers as well as the New Orleans Saints on December 27, 2010. Great seats, face value, can't ask for more than that.
So I alerted my boss that we planned to celebrate the way true football fans do and he was excited for us. You see, he is a die hard 49ers fan. Nothing would have made his day more than watching his underachieving team pull off a road victory while I was there to witness it live. So it was done. I had Friday, Saturday and Sunday off and 72 hours of just me and the wife time.
We allowed ourselves to sleep in a little on Friday morning. It was a long drive from Shreveport Louisiana to Atlanta Georgia and we needed to be awake and alert for our trip. So, around 11AM we were on Interstate 20 heading eastbound and down.
Let me clue you in on the relationship my wife and I have together. You know the old saying, "She's a little bit country, I'm a little bit rock and roll?" Well, it's to the extreme with us.
For as long as I've been a Falcons fan I've been a metal music fan. From Metallica and Pantera to Breaking Benjamin and Five Finger Death Punch. The only band we agree on is Breaking Benjamin. We have been to every show they have had within a 300 mile vicinity. So I'd like to thank Ben Burnley and the guys for providing our soundtrack for the trip. I have now heard all five albums on repeat for 20 plus hours. Great bunch of musicians.
Anyways, not to sidetrack. We headed down I-20 taking very few stops to save time. Each new city I caught myself looking out the window at car dealerships. Ever since I started work at Holmes Honda I've become more and more interested in how other dealerships display their inventory and how many vehicles they have in stock. It passes the time I suppose.
Around 8:00 PM Georgia time we arrived at our hotel. We got a really great deal on Priceline so we paid a third of the actual value to feel like we had money. As we made our way to the check in, I notice there are a lot of really big guys dressed up in their Sunday bests walking around. It was really loud and there appeared to be a dance party happening in the bar area. I took as mental note and grabbed our room keys. We dropped off our bags in the suite and headed out on a search for fast food. We locate a nearby Wendy's and head back to the room for some much needed rest.
The next morning I awake to a thirsty wife who was craving some water. So I head down to the concession area and once again see some over-sized human beings lingering in the lobby. After listening carefully, I heard one particular person called by name. It turned out to be a 49er player. More on him later.
I take the water back to the room and find my wife ready to get out on the town. We had plans to check out the Zoo since that's one of our out-of-town pass times. So we load up the trusty GPS that sounds like Joe Pesci and head downtown. Why is it every zoo in America is off Martin Luther King BLVD? I knew the moment we got on MLK, we were close.
We drive around the parking lot for about 15 minutes before we found our mark. A young couple heading back to their mini-van with kids in tow. About the time they pulled out another car on the opposite side of the lot decided they didn't have to wait like we did and promptly stole the spot. So off we went in search again. As it turns out, we found one even closer and headed inside.
Once inside, our stomachs began to growl so we headed straight to the concession stand to get a burger and fries. Eighteen dollars later we were still hungry but ready to head to the reptile section. I'm a big fan of snakes and I've introduced my wife to the beauty of them. Don't get me wrong, if I see a poisonous one near the house it's getting a hollow point from my .45 caliber but some of the colors on them is mesmerizing.
It's rare you see both a King Cobra and a Black Mamba in the same location but the Atlanta Zoo came through. We tooled around for a few hours there and took our leave. We had plans to go meet up with a couple of Falcons fans friends we only get to see at games.
So we get back to the hotel and there are still a bunch of huge guys wandering the lobby. All I could think was the 49ers had to be staying at the hotel but I didn't recognize any of them. Regardless, we head up to the room to get changed for an early dinner with friends and see that LSU is playing. We never miss an LSU game and we completely forgot they had the afternoon game. So we call our friends and let them know we cannot make it.
The wife lays down and passes out leaving me alone there to yell at the TV by myself. I swear, LSU is the worst 4-0 team in college football history. Well, if you don't count some of those old USC teams that played no one. Sort of like the current USC team. So I wander downstairs to surprise the wife with a $3 bottle of water and $2 snickers bar. While standing at the register I see a 49ers player that I do recognize. I walk over to him and ask him if he's who I thought he was and he confirms it. It turns out, the hotel was full of fraternity brothers and he happened to belong to that chapter. Mystery solved. If you want to know who it was just ask me.
So I go back to the room and wake up the wife. We get dressed up for our anniversary dinner. I located a nice restaurant nearby and we head that direction. It was funny, even on the menu it says, "No cell phones allowed" which is very uncommon in my experience. It was nice. The food was good, service was decent and price was, well pricey. Time to get back to the hotel and get some rest. We have a big day in store for tomorrow. We are all jazzed up for the tailgate and game.
About 8:00 AM my wife wakes me up and we begin the showering, shaving and dressing routine. We pack all of our belongings up, load the little Honda CRV and head towards the MARTA station. We figure with the cost of parking at the dome it's much cheaper to take the MARTA. As it turns out, they raised the MARTA day pass price so it basically equaled out. Still, it saves that terrible traffic leaving after the game.
The ride takes about 45 minutes from arrival to destination. We get off the MARTA and begin following the crowd towards the dome. You see, this is our second trip to a Falcons game in as many years and we had a guide to the tailgate last time. This time, we figured we had it covered. As we exited my wife asks me to wait because she doesn't remember steps, but escalators from last time. I'm lucky to remember to check my socks each day to assure they aren't inside out but I insist we follow the crowd. Big mistake.
We end up in front of the Georgia dome but on the exact opposite of Lot A which is where the Falconsroost hold their tailgate. We wander around for an hour arguing and placing blame on who's fault it is that we got lost. Of course it's mine but I wasn't going down without a fight! After many unanswered phone calls to the tailgate crew we gave up and had a lovely $27.50 lunch of hot dogs, chips and a beer. I've never been physically violated but I'd have to imagine it feels a little bit like buying food at a football game. Of course, they denied my credit card which is certainly good. They then denied my wife's so at that point we knew it was an error on their end. While they scrambled around looking for a manager, we dug up the cash needed to get the food and head to our seats.
We also went to the Falcons365 store that sells all sorts of apparel. I've been dying for a Curtis Lofton jersey since he was drafted in 2008. Of course, the Falcons still haven't released one. I mean, he's only the leader of the defense. Who would want his jersey when a Jamaal Anderson is so readily available. Someone needs to get to the Falcons Marketing staff and have a come to Jesus meeting. Could you imagine the 49ers not making a Patrick Willis jersey available? Hell, he's like the only Niner jersey worth having as a fan. We ended up buying our first baby clothes for our upcoming child. You see, we found out a couple of weeks ago we were going to be parents and I'm pushing hard to get the nursery decorated in Falcons items. The wife is a little resistant but she couldn't pass up a bib that says, "Baby Falcon" on it. As proud future parents, we were pleased with the purchase.
Since we missed the tailgate we were a solid hour and a half early getting to our seats. We listened to some rather crappy music over the PA system and watched them film a scene for the show One Tree Hill. Overall, we were bored to death waiting for the kick off. It was about a half hour before kickoff that they entered our lives. I shall refer to them as Lafonda and Chet. They were these drunken buffoons that sat behind us. Apparently they are season ticket holders. They were loud, annoying and if interested, sit in section 119, row 24 seats 11 & 12. Directly behind the seats we had purchased for the game.
I always take a moment before the game to appreciate the energy that fills the stadium. It was exciting and nerve wracking. I was really afraid that the 49ers were due and this was the perfect trap game. After some Latin singer with a beautiful voice butchered parts of the National Anthem we were ready for kick off. Don't get me wrong, she was a great singer. Call me old fashioned, but our Nations Anthem doesn't need a bunch of runs and free styling lyrically. To me, it takes away from the simple perfection of the words.
The game kicks off and instantly the Falcons look flat. The 49ers put up 14 points in the 1st quarter and Chet and Lafonda are starting to get hammered. By the time the Falcons came out and scored on a short pass to Harry Douglas, the entire area is growing tired of the drunken buffoons behind me. It's 14-7 Niners and the crowd is growing frustrated with the lack of running game for the Falcons.
As halftime approaches, my wife decides she needs to use the restroom and when she reaches down for her purse she sees a small puddle of backwash beer around both her purse, and the sack holding the bib we purchased for our child. I raise her seat to find 2 beer bottles that mysteriously appeared from thin air. I reach under my seat and find a third just laying there.
I collect the three bottles and turn to face the drunken buffoons Chet and Lafonda and advise them of their inconsideration. As expected, they deny and get angry for being accused. At this point I become extremely angry and advise Lafonda that she's a liar and needs to take responsibility for her actions. She advises me that she is on probation and would cut my wife. She then begins to yell incoherently and shushes me every time I open my mouth.
I'm not a Christian so I won't go into the whole, "I'm a Christian and would never hit a woman." lies. I'm a good person and would never hit a women but the day a female balls her fist up and punches me like a man, she graduates into manhood. Unfortunately for me, Lafonda didn't go to that extreme but good ol' Chet was too much of a wimp to face me. So I took a deep breath and regrouped myself. Even though the fans around me all took my side in the debate, I decided to take the high road and remind them one last time I was on to their little scheme of kicking bottles under our seats to make room for those $5 TK Maxx shoes they had on.
I'm not a bad person. I'd like to think that when Lafonda dies that she gets the camouflage coffin she deserves. And if there is a heaven that she be welcomed into her trailer park in the clouds and be awarded a double wide trailer equipped with a stripped pole to match her tramp stamp and belly button ring. You know, something classy.
As the 3rd quarter begins I get poked in the back from 2 rows away. It was an older lady that wanted to let me know that standing up while the defense is on the field blocks her view. Far be it for me to block someones view. I politely advise her that if she stands she's a good 3 feet taller than me being up two rows. She didn't care for that suggestion. That did not deter me from standing and screaming for my team as they attempt to stop our common opponent from scoring. You see, I can sit on my couch and yell at my TV every week but when I'm on location in the stadium, I plan to get my moneys worth from the tickets I bought. Truth be told, I could pay for the Sunday Ticket for the same price I paid for two decent seats in the Georgia dome. Playing the role of the 12th man seems more like an honor and a responsibility. So my wife and I cheered until our throats hurt and our ears rang.
As the 4th quarter began, the offense took the field and I took my seat. By now, Lafonda and Chet are trashed. In the corner of my eye, I catch Lafonda reaching across Chet to toss an empty beer bottle beneath my seat. I admit it, I lost it. I eyed that future contestant on "Rock of Love with Brett Michaels" with the most evil look I could muster. I left my seat and found the Falcons security. I admit, I felt a tad bit guilty tattling on a Falcon fan but she was no fan. She was a party girl and Chet was just egging her on. I'm sure he thought if he got her drunk enough, he could get her back to the trailer park and have a good time. But seeking out security did save me from spending time in jail for smashing both of their faces. Hers for threatening to cut my wife and his for being that loser everyone has to baby sit at the local bar.
When I found security I explained what happened and he located a local Atlanta police officer. They asked me to point out Lafonda and Chet which I did happily. As security escorted the two away to a private place to talk, I was surprised to see the amount of thanks being thrown my direction. It made me feel good even though I was missing the 4th quarter of a very good ball game.
After they spoke to the two morons they let them go back to their seats with a warning and asked me to answer a few more questions. I did so happily while watching the game in the corner of my eye. I received a text from my wife asking where I was because Lafonda and Chet were taunting her now. I rushed back to my seat and for the next 20 minutes shrugged off the repeated taunts from both.
I was wearing my Jessie Tuggle jersey so Chet decided he no longer liked Tuggle and made sure he said so very loudly multiple times. When your drunk, you tend to repeat yourself. Lafonda decided to tell everyone in our section that they were not allowed to cheer or get loud because I would call the cops. Clearly she is an idiot considering I was the only person in our section standing up screaming at the 49ers offense.
While I was protecting my wife and cheering on the Falcons a season ticket holder that was sitting next to me said he was about to leave but wanted to shake my hand. I did so thankfully and he and his friend moved along. Shortly after, Matt Ryan tossed an interception that Nate Clemons ran back to the Falcons 8 yard line where Roddy White came up from behind and forced a fumble. Falcons ball!! There was still hope! Down by two with fifty five seconds on the clock we had a chance!
Ryan took the lead and charged the Falcons into field goal range. With seven seconds remaining, Matt Bryant kicked the game winner. After a brief celebration with some local season ticket holders we made our way to up the stairs towards the exit. I was amazed at the amount of people who stopped by to pat me on the shoulder or shake my hand for dealing with Chet and Lafonda.
As we reached the top of the stairs I was stopped by Brian, the head of security for the Georgia Dome. He wanted to thank me for keeping my cool. We told him we drove all the way from Louisiana and he gave us a funny look. He pulled out his iPhone and showed me his Saints background and stated that he was from Baton Rouge. It's a small world. He then showed me a text from his mother letting him know the Saints beat the Panthers with the exact 16-14 score as the Falcons.
While chatting with him another season ticket holder came by and shook my hand. At this point I began to feel like a celebrity. He told Brian some of the names the two white trash treasures called my wife while I was away and Brian promptly wrote them down in his little book. He assured me that Chet and Lafonda had seen their last home game of the season as a result. I started to ask for their tickets but I remembered that 10 hour drive and thought better of it. Donate them to a childrens charity. The rest of the fans in section 119 were great people, even if they didn't stand on defensive drives.
We met up with our friends Mike and Mary and headed to the parking lot to say a quick goodbye to our friend Lee who hosts the tailgates for the Falconsroost. We took some pictures, I drank a beer and before we knew it we were looking at a 4:00 AM arrival time back in Louisiana. We exchanged pleasantries and headed for the MARTA to get back to the CRV and begin our long drive home.
Upon arriving to the MARTA we started heading towards our stop and my wife fell ill. There was a chatty fellow sitting there that didn't stop talking long enough to hear my wife say she felt like she was about to be sick. What a way to end our time in Atlanta! My wife throwing up all over a guy that was so full of himself he couldn't stop talking long enough to avoid being covered in sick. Unfortunately, it didn't happen though it would have been hilarious for me. It was one of those days.
We made it to the car and started out of Atlanta. Did you ever notice it's easier to leave than arrive places? We were on the outskirts of Atlanta when my wife had me pull over at a gas station. Ah the fun of pregnancy. After she got the $7 hot dog out of her system we ventured towards the house. It was around 3:30 AM when we made it back, a solid 10 hours of driving.
So here I am. Sore, tired and thankful that this weekend is one of the many I was able to share with the woman I love. I'd like to personally thank everyone from Mike, Mary and Lee to the Brian at the Georgia Dome for making this trip one for the memory books. We now plan our next trip to Atlanta in December to watch the Falcons host the Saints on a Monday Night. I hope I can find Brian and give him some good natured ribbing for cheering on my mortal enemies. I expect it to be another interesting 72 hours.