Friday, September 21, 2007

Lucky Socks - Part II

The two key aspects of the ritual are: 1) What you eat for breakfast on Sunday; 2) What you wear to watch the game.

In 1995, I ordered a very nice hunter green polo shirt from Packers Pro Shop. I wore that shirt to watch every game from 1995 through 1998—as you well recall, tremendously successful seasons for The Pack. At that time I watched the games at a sports bar in Phoenix that caters to Packer fans—and serves fabulous hamburgers. Over time my shirt acquired at least one grease stain from each and every burger I consumed. By the end of the 1998 season, that shirt was starting to become an embarrassment, so I

de-commissioned it and bought a brand new gold shirt for 1999.

This turned out to be a bad idea. That season was the first one since 1991 in which the Packers didn’t achieve a winning record. I still wonder what might have happened if I had stuck with my trusty old grease-stained green shirt. Would Carolina have won that late fourth quarter victory against us in game #13? I sincerely doubt it. I blame myself to this day.

The pattern was repeated in this millennium. In 2001-2004, I wore another green shirt, which I again had to replace in 2005. Yes, I switched to a gold shirt and the consequence of that poor decision was enduring a long and torturous 4-12 campaign. As they say, those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Which brings us to the first game of the 2007 season. At my house, we have a pregame breakfast that never varies: hot cakes and sausage. I’m quite sure that our devotion to this menu has brought the Packers good fortune on numerous occasions, with the added bonus that medical researchers at the Johnsonville Institute have shown that sausage is one of the most important food groups for the maintenance of good health and guaranteeing longevity.

Unfortunately, the Friday before the game vs. the Eagles, we got some really bad news. We found out our Irish Setter had to go in right away for a root canal operation. (yes, a root canal, believe it or not). This was traumatic because you always worry when a dog has to go under anesthesia, and because the operation was going to cost $2,400. When I heard that, I needed anesthetic, too.

So, in all this confusion, we forgot to buy the pancake mix and sausage. And then right before kickoff I realized that my lucky green shirt was in the laundry, and the only clean one was the dreaded, jinxed gold shirt. Friends were coming over to watch the game, so I couldn’t wear a dirty, wrinkled shirt.

It was 1999 and 2005 all over again. I had to act quickly to chase away the bad karma. But I had no time! The teams were warming up on the field…The FOX network pregame team had already said their first 5 really inane things of the season…What could I do...?

I rummaged through every bit of Packer logo clothing I owned until I found a solution:

A pair of white socks with the green “G” above the ankle and green and gold on the bottom of the foot. I’ve always thought these socks were a little tacky, so I’d never worn them, but I was desperate, and I put them on right before our guests arrived to watch the game.

You know what happened. A thrilling last second victory for Green Bay against a perennially stubborn foe. Fresh hopes of reclaiming home field advantage. Visions of making the playoffs this season. The world seemed brand new.

I believe I owe all this good fortune to my LUCKY SOCKS. Now I can relax for the remainder of the season because I know that as long as I have these socks on, I have done everything I can to help the Packers win.

(Postscript: my Irish Setter came out of the operation just fine. However, my VISA card will require several months to heal).

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