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Vagabond Journey

Week 1: Romantic Getaway To … Baltimore

That was bad.

BALTIMORE, Maryland- Hannah in shivering. She’s soaked wet, her rain jacket having succumbed to the elements hours ago. Her lips are blue. She’s wondering about hypothermia and what that really means. I’m wondering why she’s still sitting next to me.

***
The tailgate sucked. When you’re used to what happens on Sundays in Orchard Park, standing crammed in under a highway overpass eating poorly prepared pseudo-Buffalo food listening to a 90s-pop cover band doesn’t really cut it. We paid $45 each for that all you can eat, all you can drink shit show. We left early. I began puking. I puked in a trash can. I puked beneath a tree. I had to remain as inconspicuous as possible because if stadium security or the police saw me I would more than likely be denied entry.

As I went about my incognito puking raids — have you ever tried to secretly vomit in public? Not easy —  I ran through how I would explain this if questioned. “I’m not drunk, I’m just sick. I only had one beer. It was the bad tailgate food or something. Really.”

That was the truth. The day in Baltimore started like shit and it didn’t get much better after kickoff. The football team that we follow got demolished. It was the worst performance by a sports team that I’ve watched — perhaps ever. They couldn’t tackle, they couldn’t block, they couldn’t throw, they couldn’t catch, they couldn’t even follow the rules … f’ck, a full five of them combined couldn’t even pick a ball up off the turf without an opponent within ten yards. The starting QB repeatedly made 60,000 people in the stands collectively cringe with empathetic embarrassment. It was so bad that new verbiage was forcefully entered into the English lexicon:

Peterman

verb, pe·ter·manned, pe·ter·man·ning

  1. to perform a task with such ineptitude as to incite pity from observers.Example:”The poor bugger petermanned the presentation so badly we all felt bad for him.””Get her off the stage! She’s petermanning!”

The team didn’t get a first down (go ten yards in four tries) the entire first half of the game — something that they hadn’t done since 2002. They had less yards of offense than they had in a game since 1972. It was the worst opening day loss in franchise history and something like the second worst lost that the team has ever experienced.

They got beat 47-3.

***
Every year in Western NY we think our football team is going to be good. Every year we think we’ll be making a run in January. Every year we say an ode to Jude, Billieve— and then reality smacks us in the face like a cold wet towel.

But we saw it before — really. When I was a kid our hometown team was phenomenal. I grew up always assuming that we would win most of our games. I still keep little plastic figures of the stars of that team neatly arranged on a shelf in my office at my parent’s house — a shrine of sorts, a reminder that it wasn’t always like this, my rose colored glasses of nostalgia, perhaps.

47-3 and still raining but we remain sitting in the stands anyway. Almost everybody else has left already. With the chaff sifted out, the remaining pockets of Bills fans peak over at each other, knowing damn well that we’re all thinking the same thing: maybe. Maybe, just maybe we will witness some kind of miracle. We’ve seen it before: January 3, 1993. Nobody wants to be the guy who walks out early, like thousands did on that day in ’93 — a decision that scarred those people like us for life. So we all sit there in the cold rain, shivering, hoping. Maybe?

Psychosis:

Psychosis is an abnormal condition of the mind that results in difficulties telling what is real and what is not. Symptoms may include false beliefs and seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear. Other symptoms may include incoherent speech and behavior that is inappropriate for the situation. There may also be sleep problems, social withdrawal, lack of motivation, and difficulties carrying out daily activities.

As I sit here, still waterlogged and cold, I can imagine an illustration of us sitting next to that definition.

***
However, you don’t really go to football games for the football. Or at least we don’t in Western New York. You go to the game to be with other people. The game is just an excuse to have fun with your friends and family, something to call home about, something to facilitate and provide a platform for social interaction, which is ultimately the reason why most celebrations arise.

Irrespective of culture, celebrations serve the function of bolstering the social bonds, identity, status, and common histories that ultimately bind groups of people together. Most human celebrations are unnecessary at best, pretty dumb at worst — it’s the deeper function beyond the costumes, the mythology, and rites that matters.

***
I drove ten hours down from Maine to Baltimore and back with my wife. We took three days off of work and spent hundreds of dollars to watch some big young dudes beat the shit out of each other in the most beautiful and cerebral way possible. We did this solely to be together. I usually go to these games with my friends from my hometown, but that changed in Baltimore.

“At first I thought you were inviting me to the game like a boy who buys his mom a baseball bat for her birthday,” she began. “I was thinking that you were taking me there instead of someplace more romantic that I would like better. But then I realized that you were really including me in something that is really important for you that you usually do without me.”

On to week two.

Filed under: Buffalo Bills, Maryland, Sports

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3413 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Prague, Czech Republic

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  • Visiit September 21, 2018, 2:01 pm

    Baltimore is the best city for enjoy the life. The view of the place is amazing. I can’t explain in words. I love to travel again for reading you blogs. Thank you so much.

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