Another Old Story: The Raider Fan’s Funeral

So I believe I am decompressed enough to tell this story from today. If not, I will be sedated enough by a healthy combination of of beer and hard liquor by time I get to the really hairy parts to finish it.

I attended a funeral today—- some old dude I barely knew on Mrs. Bads maternal side of the family left this mortal world this week, which pretty much fucked up my Saturday. I was supposed to go to the Stanford/USC game with Li’l Bobby today, those plans were NIXED. My wife’s mother was one of twelve kids of immigrant parents, and many of her siblings didn’t turn out to be law abiding citizens. In fact, many of them think the Mexican gang bangers in Training Day were complete pussies for not capping Ethan Hawke in the bathtub. The dude that died wasn’t like that, but he hung with these people because they were FAMILY. I didn’t even remember who this dude was until we showed up at the funeral because my wife only sees these people when somebody gets hitched or croaks. I would have sat through the entire service without knowing who he was if not for a picture that was in the photo slide show of the church. I was sitting there trying to follow football action on my lousy phone when a picture of a much younger me drinking Budweiser and SHOTS! with the recently deceased at his house appeared on the screen—- that party was about twenty years ago.

I must say it was a hell of a bash—I was the only white person there, and initially, I wasn’t really welcome. They started warming up to me after I returned from a beer run with a keg of Bud, started pouring shots of tequila, and challenging their manhood to drink with me. By the end of the night, they wanted the CRAZY WHITE BOY to do crimes with them. That was the last I saw of a lot of them because those guys were sent to prison by THE MAN. But I digress; this is a story about TODAY. I must say I was a bit moved that a picture of me made this guy’s life highlight reel (and I did look damn good in the picture).

I knew this was not a normal Catholic funeral when I saw men wearing Raiders’ jerseys in the church. I know the new Pope is supposed to be liberal, but I don’t think he would approve of Howie Long jerseys at a Mass. I have never really been able to put my head around the Jersey Culture, but wearing your best jersey isn’t even California Casual attire. However, there in front of me was “Long”, “McFadden”, “Pryor”, “Kaufmann”, “Stabler”, and “Allen”. The one that blew my mind was the “Gannon” jersey though—Jesus Janikowski Christ—- the dude threw five pics in one Super Bowl game, three run back for touchdowns—I don’t care if he won an MVP with the Raiders; that is some bad ju-ju. In all, I counted NINETEEN Raiders’ jerseys, including the guy who lost his eye in a street fight.

After the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, the priest turned the mike over to family members to say their last respects. For the next seventy-eight minutes, I listened to all sorts of tales of despair and woe, and how the deceased helped turned these destitute lives around. Sure, they were strong testaments to the deceased’s life, but I wasn’t getting any updates on the Georgia/Auburn game, so I started to get antsy. McFadden, prison tats and all, got up and told Raider stories, and finished by letting the congregation know that the deceased was buried in his Raiders’ jersey. Look, I know football fans are tribal and have different rites and rituals, but that is MESSED UP RELIGION. When I die, I will finally be free of lousy Cleveland sports teams, and I sure as hell don’t want to take the chance of them following me to the afterlife because one of my family members draped a Browns’ jersey over my corpse. The service finally ended, and we were off to the grave site service where seventy-one Raiders’ balloons (one for each year of his life) were released into the sky.

Have I ever told the Lounge how much I despise the Raiders? If Bill Laimbeer were in a gunfight with any Raider, I’d root for Laimbeer. These feelings would come into play later in the afternoon at the reception, which just happened to be at San Manuel Casino because that was the deceased’s dude’s favorite place.

I am going to pause now for a SHOT! and some further reflection.

 

So the San Manuel Indians are not just in the casino business — they are into the RECEPTION BUSINESS and have built a giant ass reception hall right next to their giant ass sports bar. My day took a sudden turn for the worse when we arrived and was told there would be no alcohol served at the reception. Being the GREAT IMPROVISER that I am, I made a hasty beeline to the sports bar to wash down the bitter Raider aftertaste left over from the service. Already at the bar was the Raider Contingent, drinking Jack SHOTS! and Heineken as chasers. Gannon was there, and my curiosity caused me to make a TACTICAL ERROR. I purchased a Hot Mexican Hooker (The Sam Manuel Sports Bar is nothing but class) and a Pabst Blue Ribbon and made my way towards them, knowing full well that my literary allegory would not be appreciated by this crowd.

It should be noted at this juncture that I didn’t recall knowing any of these guys.

Me: Hail The Raiders! (slams shot, downs half the PBR to keep that nasty shit down)

Kaufmman: Who the fuck are you?

Me: Family of [the deceased] (SILENCE) Obviously by marriage. He will be greatly missed.

Long#1: You don’t look like a Raiders’ fan.

Me: I’m not! I hate them, Dude. I am a Browns’ fan. Red Right 88. But (get ready for a BIG LIE) I respect Raider fans. You guys are hardcore. (Bottles clink; toast)

Allen: What the fuck stinks?

Me (pointing at the reside in the shot glass): Tuna juice and tequila. Tastes like shit, but it’s great for the morning dooker. At my age, you have to worry about things like that.

Long#2: You put tuna juice in tequila?

Me: They won’t serve pussy juice. (pointing to Gannon) What’s up with you wearing that jersey?

Gannon: Huh?

Me: Rich Fucking Gannon. Super Bowl Goat. Why not Plunkett or Stabler? I understand everyone else (pointing to Allen). Marcus Allen — he wasn’t no Jim FUCKING Brown, but he was great. (pointing to McFadden) Lot’s of potential. The hope of the future. So far he ain’t even Eric Metcalf, but there is still TIME. (pointing to Stabler) The Snake! (pointing to Kaufmman( Frist name Napoleon. That is bad ass! But Gannon? Why wear the pain?

Gannon: I’ve had this since I was a kid. Plus, we eat pain.

Me: That is got to hurt! Hardcore! I still have a Brian Sipe jersey, Dude, so I think I know where you are coming from. Red Right 88. He gave you guys a Super Bowl, and I still have his jersey. I’m too fat to wear it anymore though.

McFadden (vein in forehead starting to noticeably pulse) Are you trying to fuck with us?

Me: A little. (another big lie coming) But you guys seem cool. I hope you beat Houston this week, like 57-54. I’ve got Keenum in one of my money leagues, and I really need the points. I really don’t understand the Gannon thing though. That would be like me wearing a Kosar Jersey.

Gannon: Kosar was a puss!

Me: No shit, dude. He lost 3 AFC Championship games. If he doesn’t throw in interception in the Red Zone in the first half, there is no DRIVE. If I had his jersey, I wouldn’t even wipe my ass with it because I’d be afraid I would get crotch rot on my taint.

Gannon: What the fuck is your taint?

Me: The skin between your nutsack and your asshole. Taint much, but you’d be in a world of shit without it.

McFadden (vein now pulsating): Only chicks have taints, Dickfuck. Men have gooches.

Me: Wow. I didn’t know that. Don’t I feel foolish.

Things might have rapidly deteriorated from there because I was ill equipped to argue the nuances taints and gooches with Radiers’ fans, but Little Bads and Kat showed up.

LB: Mom says you need to get back NOW! Grandpa isn’t feeling well. (guffaws from Raiders’ fans)

McFadden: Grandpa just saved your ass.

Me: Yeah, [FIL’s name] does that a lot.

McFadden: Wait, you’re [FIL’s name] son-in-law?

Me: Yeah.

McFadden: I remember you! You brought a keg to [the deceased]’s Halloween party that year! (bear hugs me) Go make sure [FIL] is okay, and get your ass back in here.

Had I just gone back and kept my head down, the stuff that unfolded later probably wouldn’t have gone down. However, I grew THIRSTY so I went back.

Before I go any further, I will have you know I have pondered the question why I decided to screw with Raiders’ fan at a funeral reception. I mean, these guys obviously were in mourning, and here I was, some smart ass dill weed needling them. Just what type of dick am I? The answer, as far as  can determine with self reflection, can be found in the parable about the scorpion and the frog. It all boils down to NATURAL BEHAVIOR, plus I was still intrigued by the Gannon jersey thing.

Our story continues with me really regretting having that gross SHOT! after eating some carne asada tacos. Perhaps it was the tacos that caused the displeasure, but my FIL ate them, and he was fine. In fact they greatly improved his condition to the point that I could return to the sports bar. I can say though, with almost absolute certainty, that had I not returned to the sports bar, the night would not have ended at Applebee’s with me talking to the Po-Po.

Fucking Applebee’s, man — the last refuge for derelicts trying to pretend they are normal — something right out of a HST acid trip. No one in there right mind goes there unless they are separated from their family and have been forced to leave other establishments because things went south. By time I was at Applebee’s, Mrs. Bads had left me in the hands of the Beloved Nephew, who couldn’t drink because of oral surgery (an excuse he has been milking for MONTHS, and as a result, is facing STIFF FINES in the League). I will argue that nothing really bad happened in the sports bar — just good natured, really foul mouthed trash talking between passionate football fans. However, it seems that is frowned upon in that establishment, and like the E-trade Baby, we were put on a time out. Instead of a crib, we were banished to another drinking establishment, and since Applebee’s can sniff trouble, there was one just down the block.

Only about half the Raiders’ entourage made it to Applebee’s because the sense to go home. Let it be known that a group of Raiders’ fans had more sense than me today. Not since I spat a hotdog on an ASU student after a Browns/Cardinals’ game have I questioned how my fanhood is unhealthy, but that is a story for another time. However, McFadden and Gannon made it to Applebee’s, and their pride had been WOUNDED by our dismissal from the sports bar. In retrospect, giving them FIREBALL! to assuage that wounded pride was not my smartest idea, but now we are back to the scorpion and the frog. Had I known the trouble to follow, perhaps I would have left. I mean, I knew trouble was coming; I just thought I could handle it, plus I was determined to get to the bottom of the Gannon thing.

Me: I still don’t get it. Rich Gannon, dude. I don’t think I can respect you anymore as long as you are wearing that. Turn it inside out, man. People are going to think I am drinking next to a guy who buys his clothes at Goodwill.

Gannon (looking all sad with puppy dog eyes (rottweiler puppy, but still): C’mon, man. I like this jersey. It reminds me of watching games with [the deceased].

Me: Well, I can respect that (glasses clink), but the general public just isn’t ready for that. I’m looking out for you, man.

Beloved Nephew: Yeah, man, that is li–

All of us (in unison): Fuck you, Chiefs’ fan!

Me (to Gannon): Tell me, did you get that jersey before or after the Super Bowl?

Gannon: BEFORE!

Me: Well, have you ever thought about buying a new one?

Gannon: I did this summer!

Me: Which one?

Gannon (head down in shame): Flynn.

McFadden: You moron!

Kauffman (slurring dangerously, raising his glass): To Christensen! (glasses clink)

Long#1: That is like the 34th time you’ve done that. I loved Todd, man, but stop.

Kauffman: long string of expletives, knocks over glass, spills beer, glass bounces on floor, but doesn’t break.

Bartender: He’s done. No more.

Raiders’ fans (in unison) WTF!!!!!

Bartender: He’s done. Period.

Me: Why didn’t that glass break?

Bartender: What?

Me: Seriously, what type of glasses are your serving this beer in? It bounced like a bottle of Canadian whiskey. A real glass would break.

Bartender: We have special floors.

Me: Bullshit! Your glasses are bunk! I got some really cool pint glasses this week — never mind, your glasses are horseshit!

Bartender” No, really, its the floor.

Me (tactical error #2 — or 213, who was counting at this point?) So if we were to throw the glass against the wall it would break?

Bartender: It would shatter. (Pryor, who I thought was the mellow one — another gross miscalculation, hurls his empty glass at the wall, and… drum roll…. it shatters!)

Me: Special floors, huh? What will they think of next? SHOTS!

Kaufmann: To Christensen!

Needless to say, we weren’t served any SHOTS! Had we been smart, we would have left immediately — it wasn’t as if fucking Applebbe’s had let us run a tab. They took one look at the Raiders’ fans and said, CASH UPFRONT!* Instead, we tried to overtip our way out of this mess, but that only works in movies and in Scottsdale, Arizona. If I were I lifelong criminal, I would have been cognizant to the fact that since we were near a really big fucking casino with a recent history of its patrons getting robbed on their way home, there would be a large POLICE PRESENCE nearby. However, I am just a simple school teacher that hasn’t been convicted** of any crimes since my college roommate watched Cool Hand Luke and came home with two parking meters one night in 1988 (another story for another time), I didn’t think Johhny Law would get there as quick as they did. I tell you what though, the residents of San Bernardino County are getting bang for their buck with their sheriff department because those guys arrived en masse.

PRONTO! That is how fast those deputies were there. We might have been able to get out of there with just Pryor taking the fall — in retrospect, that felon was SHIFTY, but McFadden and Gannon, still stinging from the sports bar ejection, went apeshit when they saw the billy clubs, and just like that, I had three compatriots in the back of squad cars and was facing some hard stares from the deputies.

Me: Let’s be reasonable here.

Deputy#1: That went out the door when your buddy threw the glass.

Me: I will pay for the glass. We’ve had hard day. We were at the funeral of someone dear.

Deputy#2: Those guys weren’t at a funeral. They are wearing Raider’s jerseys! Who wears that to a funeral!

Me: My thoughts exactly. I was initially harsh with judgment also. Who wears Raiders’ jerseys to a funeral, especially a Gannon jersey?

Deputy #1: Gannon was an MVP, man! What is wrong with Gannon?

Me (sensing hope): Are you a Raiders’ fan?

Deputy#1: No! I am Niners’ fan, but Gannon was good, man. (hope DASHED)

Deputy#2. Gannon is not important here. You people through a glass at the TV!

Me: Oh, C’mon, the TV isn’t even near the wall. Let me just take them to their hotel.

Deputy#1: You are in no condition to drive, Sir.

Beloved Nephew: I am. I haven’t drank all day. I had oral surgery this week, and the doctor said the antibiotics wouldn’t work if I drank.

Me (in my head) You are getting so fined for that. (Aloud) It’s true. Think of the paperwork you are going to have to fill out. Is it worth it over a glass?

And back and forth it went, the sheriffs unyielding at first, but then starting to soften, especially after the bartender went on break. The Beloved Nephew passed a field sobriety test. Our story about the funeral reception at San Manuel checked out. The Raiders’ fans did indeed have rooms for the night. Just when I thought we had a chance, Kauffman started puking all over himself in the parking lot. I started imagining what the phone call from jail to my wife would be like. I wondered if I’d be released in time to watch the Battle of Ohio tomorrow. I hoped my fantasy rosters were set correctly. I was a beaten man. Then, in my moment of despair, the Beloved Nephew stepped to the plate and hit a GAME CHANGER.

Beloved Nephew: Do you want that smell in your car? Let me take them back to the hotel. We all go on with our lives. It’s been a long day, and you guys can go catch the real bad guys.

The deal went down pretty fast after that. The Applebee’s manger was cool with us paying damages — – $123.00 seemed like a lot for one glass, but one can’t put a price on FREEDOM. The deputies had already run background checks on us, and to my immense surprise, no one in the group had outstanding warrants, not even Pryor. The Raiders fans had to promise they were in their hotel for the night. We had to go straight home. The only hitch was we couldn’t fit everyone in the Beloved Nephew’s Audi, so I had to stay with the Po-Po and the GROUP LEFT BEHIND until after the return trip. Soon, the Beloved Nephew and I were on our way to Redlands, and upon our arrival, we lit one hell of a bonfire and fired up the jacuzzi to soak our taints. Or are they gooches?

Mrs. Bads: I was getting worried. Did it go alright?

Us (in unison): Fucking Raiders fans!

 

* They didn’t really say that; I am employing DRAMATIC EFFECT, but we all know they thought it.

** key word, convicted. Arrested doesn’t count if you beat the rap.

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