The Minnesota Vikings, My Pops, and Me

I wrote this last year, but I’m updating and re-posting it in light of yesterday’s huge Vikings win.  I got to experience it in person, at MOA Field, with my pops. It was great – I am still hoarse from cheering, Pops almost clapped once, and the whole day was pretty much everything I love about being a Vikings fan.

I once theorized that my relationship with the Minnesota Vikings is not unlike my relationship with men (why yes, this theory was developed in a bar!): 1) I care very strongly for them; they are basically unaware I exist. 2) I am always looking for a good tight end; they are always looking for a horny blonde.

Vikings Fan

Like that.

3) Eventually I’m going to have to stop pinning all my hopes and dreams on men who wear purple and tight pants and chase each other. 4) And finally, it’s all my father’s fault.

From age 2-6, Bonding With Pops meant watching whatever action movie was on television while falling asleep on the couch. They have fused in my memory into one long action movie I like to call Crocodile Die Hard Jones and the Hunt for the Lethal Weapons Under Siege 2. From ages 7-12, Bonding With Pops meant getting outdoorsy and going camping and fishing. Sadly, this camping tradition ended about when my dad woke up to me burning an entire deck of cards, one at a time. I wish I was kidding; that is super creepy. Ever since, Bonding With Pops has simply involved sports, and it started with the Vikings.

Together, we watched the 1998-1999 season with as much pride (and then overwhelming despair) as the rest of the state, and despite that famous miss, I was hooked. In 2000, Pops took me to the Vikings training camp to watch a scrimmage. The facts say that I was fifteen at the time, but the memories suggest I was closer to seven. I was giddy to be there, with Pops, watching Cris Carter! Robert Smith! JOHN RANDLE! And we were in the front row, somehow; probably because Pops is early for everything (I did not inherit this trait), but at the time I was pretty sure it was because my dad was magic and/or secretly important. I thought this might be the case when he perked up at some announcement and said, “I think that’s my cousin Rod doing the announcing.”

Before I could say, “You have a cousin Rod and why aren’t we using this relationship to get VIP treatment?” The announcer said, “and here comes the quarterback, Cunningham. Uh, I mean Culpepper…” To which the crowd gave a little boo and Pops said, “Yep. That’s Rod alright.” I decided not to follow this lead after all.

Despite needing to be the first person in his seat that day, Pops couldn’t stay in it for long. He got us a bag of popcorn that (again, in my memory) was as big as me, and I was not a small kid. He also ran off and bought me a Cris Carter jersey. Again, I was not a small kid, but Pops overshot it a bit — to this day, we call that my “Cris Carter dress.” I loved it immediately.

After the scrimmage, we went to the autograph line. Pops plopped me next to the gate with my camera and my notebook and disappeared while I gawked, star-struck, as all the pros walked past me and the rookies stopped to sign autographs.

If you’re wondering what kind of father would leave his teenage daughter alone in a crowd like that, so was I. I finally brought this part of the memory up to my dad last week. “Where did you go?” I asked, thinking he ran away from the crowd to smoke. He stared at me. “I was right behind you,” he said. “I had a hand on each of your shoulders! Don’t you remember? You were the same height as Denny Green!” What kind of father would leave his teenage daughter alone in that crowd? Not mine. You’d think I’d remember being held in place by a large man, but no. There is no large man in my memory other than John Randle. I may be a terrible daughter with a foggy memory of one of the best days of my young life but eh! John Randle!

John Randle

Actual picture that I actually took of the actual John Randle. I am that bad of a photographer, and I was that excited. I’m still proud of this.

That was the last time my dad and I went to a scrimmage. Until yesterday, he did not even own any Vikings apparel (I bought him a purple hat – he’s actually lucky I didn’t buy him one of the helmets with horns), whereas I’ve upped the ante with a “cousin” Adrian Peterson jersey, Robert Smith jersey, Vikings sweatshirt, two or three purple pride t-shirts, and one of those sweet blonde-with-horns hats (I will fool you yet, men). I was banned from The Boys’ apartment after Favre threw the last interception of 2010 and I let out a guttural scream that scared the cats. I went to three games at the Dome last year (all losses). And I once picked a fight in New Orleans, with a Priest, because he was wearing a Drew Brees jersey.

To be a Vikings fan is to be stubborn and proud without reason.  I’m a HUGE Vikings fan, and it’s definitely all my father’s fault.

Love you, Pops.

SKOL VIKINGS!

Rachel and Pops

Advertisements

Best Things of the Month!

Actually it’s been over 2 months since my last “Best Things” post, but if I had more time to write these things I’d have less to write about, right?  So let’s just sum up October:

First there was the ZPC wherein I ruined the childhoods of many with my Zombie Princess pals, and then there was Halloween.  For that, I was Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia for obvious reasons.

Two Charlies

The resemblance is uncanny.

A lot of girls use Halloween as an excuse to wear underwear in public; I just went a different way with it.  I bullied a buddy into going as Mac (aka I lent him a t-shirt and drew fake tattoos on his arms), and Manolo was a cat, so we did our best to reenact this video:

Overall I give Halloween (and October) a solid A.

NOVEMBER!

First there was vacation with the Ginger.

Then there was my dad’s first Vikings game.

empty dome

This is what the Dome looks like when you're 2.5 hours early.

They lost, of course. And cousin Adrian had to be taken out of the game with an ankle injury. Really not great, but it was awesome to be there with Pops anyway.  It’s also great that he’s quit smoking, and a non-smoking Pops is a snacking Pops. We had popcorn and Twizzlers for lunch. Happy Thanksgiving!

Next, actual Thanksgiving happened, and was lovely.

And finally: the Ginger’s birthday! Three costume changes were involved and we hopped all over Lowertown St. Paul: we started out swimming at the Holiday Inn, then a dinner at Kincaid’s (I am not that restaurant’s target audience, but even the vegetarian side dishes were beyond delicious), and then dancing/drinks at Barrio and the Bulldog.  It absolutely destroyed MY last birthday, which was spent sick on my couch with a Die Hard marathon.

Die Hard poster

If I hadn't been sick, it might have been a tie.

A lot of great things have already happened so far in December, but you’ll just have to wait until mid-February or whenever I update this again to find out about that.

Football and Famine

There are really only two things on my mind this week.  The first, and I hope it’s on yours too, is famine.  I urge you to look into it yourself and decide if you can help in some way.  The link to the World Food Programme is still in the right sidebar of this page if you need a place to start, or you can sign up to pack food at a special session through Feed My Starving Children.  I went yesterday (and here’s proof that I look goofy in a hairnet) and will be going twice more in the next month.

I’m not going to spout off any more numbers or link to any more pictures today, I’m just going to share this, which I first heard at A’s Naturalization Ceremony:

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.

attributed to John Wesley (probably incorrectly, but what you can do?)

I said I had two things on my mind this week, and you can probably guess the other from the title.  Yes, when I’m not thinking about famine, I am thinking about football.

I once theorized that my relationship with the Minnesota Vikings is not unlike my relationship with men (why yes, this theory was developed in a bar!):  1) I care very strongly for them; they are basically unaware I exist.  2) I am always looking for a good tight end; they are always looking for a horny blonde.

Vikings Fan

Like that.

3) Eventually I’m going to have to stop pinning all my hopes and dreams on men who wear purple and tight pants and chase each other.  4) And finally, it’s all my father’s fault.

From age 2-6, Bonding With Pops meant watching whatever action movie was on television while falling asleep on the couch.  They have fused in my memory into one long action movie I like to call Crocodile Die Hard Jones and the Hunt for the Lethal Weapons Under Siege 2. From ages 7-12, Bonding With Pops meant getting outdoorsy and going camping and fishing.  Sadly, this camping tradition ended about when my dad woke up to me burning an entire deck of cards, one at a time.  I wish I was kidding; that is super creepy.  Ever since, Bonding With Pops has simply involved sports, and it started with the Vikings.

Together, we watched the 1998-1999 season with as much pride (and then overwhelming despair) as the rest of the state, and despite that famous miss, I was hooked.  In 2000, Pops took me to the Vikings training camp to watch a scrimmage.  The facts say that I was fifteen at the time, but the memories suggest I was closer to seven.  I was giddy to be there, with Pops, watching Cris Carter! Robert Smith! JOHN RANDLE! And we were in the front row, somehow; probably because Pops is early for everything (I did not inherit this trait), but at the time I was pretty sure it was because my dad was magic and/or secretly important.  I thought this might be the case when he perked up at some announcement and said, “I think that’s my cousin Rod doing the announcing.”

Before I could say, “You have a cousin Rod and why aren’t we using this relationship to get VIP treatment?” The announcer said, “and here comes the quarterback, Cunningham.  Uh, I mean Culpepper…”  To which the crowd gave a little boo and Pops said, “Yep. That’s Rod alright.”  I decided not to follow this lead for VIP treatment.

Despite needing to be the first person in his seat that day, Pops couldn’t stay in it for long.  He got us a bag of popcorn that (again, in my memory) was as big as me, and I was not a small kid.  He also ran off and bought me a Cris Carter jersey.  Again, I was not a small kid, but Pops overshot it a bit — to this day, we call that my “Cris Carter dress.”  I loved it immediately.

After the scrimmage, we went to the autograph line.  Pops plopped me next to the gate with my camera and my notebook and disappeared while I gawked, star-struck, as all the pros walked past me and the rookies stopped to sign autographs.

If you’re wondering what kind of father would leave his teenage daughter alone in a crowd like that, so was I.  I finally brought this part of the memory up to my dad last week.  “Where did you go?” I asked, thinking he ran away from the crowd to smoke.  He stared at me.  “I was right behind you,” he said.  “I had a hand on each of your shoulders!  Don’t you remember?  You were the same height as Denny Green!”  What kind of father would leave his teenage daughter alone in that crowd?  Not mine.  You’d think I’d remember being held in place by a large man, but no.  There is no large man in my memory other than John Randle.  I may be a terrible daughter with a foggy memory of one of the best days of my young life but eh! John Randle!

John Randle

Actual picture that I actually took of the actual John Randle. I am that bad of a photographer, and I was that excited. I'm still proud of this.

That was the last time my dad and I went to a scrimmage; as far as I know, he does not even own any Vikings apparel (but he could probably fit into the Cris Carter dress, too), whereas I’ve upped the ante with a “cousin” Adrian Peterson jersey, a Vikings sweatshirt, two or three t-shirts, and one of those sweet blonde-with-horns hats (I will fool you yet, men).  I was banned from The Boys’ apartment after Favre threw the last interception of 2010 and I let out a guttural scream that scared the cats.   And I once picked a fight in New Orleans, with a Priest, because he was wearing a Drew Brees jersey.  Pops and I haven’t watched a game together in years, and we’ve never been to a game together.  I’ve never been to a game at all.  But I’m still a huge Vikings fan, and it’s definitely all my father’s fault.

Love you, Pops.

SKOL VIKINGS!

A whole new way to be a fanatic

I feel like I should clarify that I use social media for a lot of things besides shoe shopping and watching videos of puppies who can’t get up.

Shoes

Mostly those things, though.

But there’s something else I love even more than shoes, and it’s not clothing-based, unless that clothing is purple: I love the Minnesota Vikings.  A lot.  To the point of…well, admitting it on the internet.  And having a Vikings-purple pedicure.

Rachel is a Viking

And dressing like this in public.

And following a bunch of sports outlets and actual Vikings on Twitter, including the man I’ve been claiming as my cousin for a few years now, Adrian Peterson. (And yet he never comes to the reunions…)  This was fun over the summer, when their updates were as meaningless as mine.  Then the NFL lockout ended and so did my regular sleep pattern.

Case in point: two nights ago, Visanthe Shiancoe tweeted the word “Welcome” and I lost my mind trying to decipher that message.  Did it mean the deal with Donavan McNabb was complete?*  Did he just hit enter before he finished writing his sentence? Was he just toying with my emotions like the entire team does season after season?  I spent the better part of an hour Googling, ESPN-ing, and Tweeting when I absolutely should have been sleeping.

Social media, I’ve discovered, has brought me a whole new way to be crazy.  I mean, a fan.  Maybe it will calm down again once this week of trades is complete, but somehow…I doubt it.

*It wasn’t then, but it is now. I have a whole bunch of thoughts on this, and losing Sidney Rice, but they mainly just make me go “I can’t with you right now.”  This is what it means to be a Vikings fan.

PS: I know I lost some of you a while back there, so here’s this: