Football games in December, especially in the northeast, midwest and any place typically north, are well-known to be cold. We’ve been fortunate in New York this season though. On days that you would expect to be just cold (not even factoring in “bitter” or “wind chill”), it’s been balmy and dare-I-say “unseasonable” weather. My dream is to someday live in San Francisco, and we’ve been blessed with Bay Area-like weather.
Of course, not on the day I was scheduled to go a game. But as you see, my friend and I dressed appropriately. A few years ago, I read an article about dressing for games during the playoffs at Lambeau Field. I remember the guy had like 10 different layers, but most importantly, thermals with the butt flap. We don’t have it that bad, at least, not yet. But for me, I had thermals on, a sweatshirt, my Jets jersey, jeans, a North Face, a scarf, and I had gloves. I didn’t really need the gloves, and I had a hat for a break-in-case-of-emergency. My friend wore her Jets cap though, for reasons other than weather (I’ll get to that in a minute).
Dee, who posts for Metscellaneous, and I met a few years ago. Brought together by our love for the Mets (and baseball), we realized we had some eerie things in common. We’re both only children, we like to write (which is technically how we met), we both don’t like raw tomatoes (but we like tomato-products…I have a hard time explaining this to other people, but luckily, she gets it), we love margaritas and chain restaurants (don’t judge), and we’re both born in December. It’s irony, really, because we are not WINTER folks (though, that is her last name..again, irony), but we can identify with the season and having our birthdays overshadowed by everyone else getting into the holiday spirit.
I never got the whole “this is your Christmas AND birthday gift,” mainly because I’m an only child and my parents never were torn in other directions. What we did get, though, was the whole nightmare of trying to plan birthday parties that were convenient for your friends, family and kids’ parents. I have a better appreciation for it now as an adult. But now since we’re adults, we’re taking matters into our own hands. We not only decided to have a joint birthday party and “share” our friends and the wealth of having a December birthday (and some people can get territorial about their friends, go figure), we said, hey, we can’t go to a baseball game for our birthdays…but we CAN go to a football game.
So December 11th it was, against the Kansas City Chiefs. I was so concerned about buying tickets for this game, yet we were told at the tailgate we went to that we could have easily waited till that week and gotten super-cheap tickets in the upper levels. It ended up not mattering either way, and I’ll get to that later.
So first things first, we meet at Penn Station, me with coffees in hand and we chill for the train to Secaucus, and transfer to Meadowlands. We’re there before 10:30 am. That may seem early but when you’re tailgating, the time passes very quickly.
I went to the same tailgate I attended back in October, when I went to the game against the Dolphins. My friend Kevin is part of a tailgate group, where they basically have a communistic set up of beverages, snacks, real food, and then other wares, like chairs and wood-burning stoves. Kevin is married to another baseball chick I know, Sharon, and she came to celebrate our birthdays (since this was the birthday game). Sharon ended up going to the game, which wasn’t part of the original plan, but it ended up benefiting us for several reasons. One is that we love Sharon and she’s a lot of fun to hang out with…the other is that later on, we got to sit with Kevin and a few of his friends in the 200 level.
Dee and I were greeted with a strawberry margarita (courtesy of Kevin’s battery-operated margarita maker), and there were comforts of home such as yummy food and wood-burning stoves. We didn’t really need it though, since you can see I lost my scarf and had my coat al fresco after a bit (plus I was drinking a frozen alcoholic drink). The guy on top of the truck was leading us in a J-E-T-S chant, and the dude in the middle of our photo is Frank, the ringleader of the L11 tailgate. There was also a filming of a television show that these dudes were pitching to Food Network, for I guess best tailgate burger. Frank was the winner of the golden spatula.
I wanted to get there earlier, after all there were huevos rancheros on the menu there, because two and a half hours does go by quickly. After all, times flies when you’re having fun. It came time to go into the stadium and root for the Jets. It was Dee’s first live football game, after all. And yes, I’m trying to set a record for the most “after alls,” in one paragraph.
Our seats weren’t terrible, but because they were underneath the lights, we got dripped on! (It rained here midweek, but I guess the sun shining brightly for days afterwards led it to melt any ice that may have formed). I felt like I was back in the Mezzanine at Shea, when you were underneath the awning, even if it had rained like a week before, if there was a puddle, you got dripped on.
We had a pretty good view of the field, more so than my first game of the season where I was behind the goal post. Don’t get me wrong: those seats were awesome on the 100 level, and my friend basically just gave the ticket to me so he wouldn’t eat it. But the drawback here were the drips…Dee had to put on her hat so that it wouldn’t drip on her head! We had a good view of Fireman Ed here (as evidenced above), but the crowd really wasn’t going strong till later in the first quarter.
Sharon told us her husband had some empties by him, and we should head down there. Good thing we did! We stayed there the second half, and for the rest of the game. Look how sweet these seats were!!
We had a better view of Fireman Ed, who basically has carte blanche to do anything at JetLife Stadium.
As for the game, yeah, it was a blowout, and as well it should have been. There wasn’t much to say except Mark Brunell came in the game eventually to relieve Sanchez, since there was no point in keeping him in there. The Jets are now in control of their own destiny too, as far as playoffs go. That can be a good or bad thing. Mostly good, since they don’t have to rely on other teams losing, but then they have to depend on winning and we all know how well that can go sometimes. I have an impeccable record for Jets games though, and now so does Dee.
When we walked out, we had another post-game tailgate to hit with another December baby, the friend we affectionately refer to as Woooooo because of his greeting on social media networks. He is the consummate host, offering us beers, different types of foods (rice and beans, london broil, bison burgers, dogs)…there was even a birthday cake, since his is coming up this week. Sure, the cake was half-eaten by the time we got there, but it was still yummy nonetheless, and a great capper of the evening.
NJ Transit is ass-backwards as far as game day travel is, but we had a finite time to return which was 5:48, the last train out of dodge. Of course, they kept us waiting and waiting and waiting, and the train Dee wanted to take back was missed by literally two minutes. Not to fret, we decided to go outside to get some hot cocoa at Dunkin’ Donuts. She casually mentions, yeah I’d like to see the tree. I say, hey, what else do we have to do tonight. So after the game, we pranced all over the city and did touristy things and made the day even more complete.
(Some bears made a special appearance)
As we walked towards the L7 tailgate after the game, I asked Dee what she thought about the game. It’s a different atmosphere than a baseball game, for sure, she said. She did say she almost liked it a bit better than baseball. I can understand. Nothing will ever replace my love for a spring or summer day game or even a night game, socializing with friends, drinking booze, eating nachos. But it can get diluted for me, which is sad, but it is what it is. Like Dee, we go to way many more baseball games. This has to do with proximity, availability and the number of games. I get a little jaded at times simply because I go to many games. I can take it for granted.
Football games are special though. There aren’t many, but there’s a lot of commitment in going to a game. Woooooo told us there was a friend of his in the tailgate who drove up every weekend from Washington, D.C. D.C.!!!! I bitch and moan about NJ Transit having a pain in the ass schedule on game days. This is especially dedicated for tailgaters too, like Wooooo and Sports Yenta (whom I met yesterday, oy!) and Frank and Kevin and everyone else. Thank you all for hosting us and making our birthday game special.
Dee and I were bonded by birthdays and baseball, and always hated that we couldn’t spend our birthdays going to baseball games. What a crock! We should have been grateful for what we did have, and that’s football…but then again, we are Jets fans, so that could have something to do with it. But now we have our own tradition and are making it our own. So as I’ve said before, I not only gained a baseball friend, I gained a baseball sister.
So happy, happy birthday to my dearest Dee. May all your wishes come true, and I hope you look back on this game with as much fondness as I do you!