It’s 1:42am and the Nor’Easter, threatened earlier today, is knocking on my door. A couple of grizzly bears have been teleported to New Hampshire and are vigorously rocking the Sprinter; a vehicle not really designed for winter travel as the frigid winds find easy access through the heating and air vents.

I wrestle an arm out of my warm Golden cocoon, and lift a blind. Peering out into the Living Dead emptiness of the WalMart parking lot, small ice crystal tornadoes flash across pools of halogen light and then disappear into the blackness…no snow, yet. But I am awake, so I might as well drive to Manchester before the morning commute and snowfall converge to make the easy 53 minute drive into something more fraught.

In moments, I am on Hwy 95, just me and four lanes of dark, empty freeway. Did the world end and no one told me? I could turn on the radio and confirm one way or the other, but decide to take a chance…what difference will it make anyway? Plus, if I do turn it on, I’ll find that the Panthers lost the Super Bowl, confirming that last night, the world did end for some folks.

The Super Bowl. The one time a year that I seek out the comradery of that alien life form – the football fan. So, after a day spent spoiling the pups with hours of sunshine imbued play at the Pierce Island Dog Park in Portsmouth, I decided to find a sports bar and, well, mingle amongst them.

After a quick Google, I settled upon The British Beer Company. Spacious, with multiple screens and a good menu of traditional pub fare, the BBC, offered up a warm welcome and a single remaining stool at the bar. Sliding in between Larry and Curly (I kid you not, and I think the bartendress was Mo), I was at once assailed with the question: who’s your team? Though my football knowledge pretty much ended when Howard Cosell stopped battling Dandy Don on MNF, I was prepared…”Carolina, of course…by 4”. “By 4?” Las Vegas is giving 6, are you just nuts?” “Hey, my bookie said…”.
Once these pleasantries were completed, Curly and I started a real conversation on a broad range of subjects, including his time spent in eastern Montana and the Dakotas working on dam and bridge infrastructure projects on the Missouri. Politics came up (imagine that!) and Curly’s last weeks have mirrored mine, as he has been traveling the state on his days off seeing and talking with the candidates.

As the pre-game show began and the MVPs of past Super Bowls appeared on the field, one caught me off guard. I laughed as a memory came blasting out of the back of my head. Curly looked at me questioningly. “I still have the 1979 Play Girl magazine where Broadway Joe was the centerfold,” I said. Cosell, Meridith, Namath….maybe I’m one of Them after all.