Learning to love the Packers
by Doug Moe, Wisconsin State Journal
(In Chapter 24, Trish experiences the game-day tailgating scene outside Lambeau Field for the first time.)
… “Say, honey! C’mere once!”
Trish looked around. The scene was so rich, complicated and populous that Trish couldn’t begin to discern the source of this summons, or even if it referred to her. The innermost fringe of the vast Lambeau Field parking lot was arranged like a flea market in serried rows whose only attraction was food and drink—and nothing was for sale. Here was the “tailgate scene” Gary had tried—and failed—to describe to Trish. Each avenue was a string of trucks, vans, hatchbacks, RVs, canteens, tents, awnings, tables, bars, kegs, umbrellas, barbecue pits, portable stoves, spits and rotisseries dense, fragrant and spilling over with beer, wine, sangria, martinis and margaritas, daiquiris, canapés, cold cuts, smoked salmon, dill pickles, beet pickles, watermelon pickles, bread and butter pickles, gherkins, soft cheeses, hard cheeses, blue cheeses, dips, chips, liverwurst, bratwurst, knockwurst, hot dogs, white buns, wheat buns, Kaiser rolls, onion rolls, burgers, chilis, stews, mulligatawneys, fried, oven-fried, Southern-fried, oven-roasted, broiled, grilled, smoked and braised chicken, T-bones, tenderloins, sirloins, rib-eyes, London broils, Wellingtons, chops, sides of beef, legs of lamb, veal birds, pigs-in-a-blanket, whole pigs, Jell-O salads, Caesar salads, Waldorf salads, macaroni salads, potato salads hot and cold, fruit desserts, Dream Whip desserts, devil’s food, angel food, German chocolate, bundt and carrot cakes, apple, pumpkin, peach, cherry, blueberry, rhubarb, lemon meringue, key lime and Boston cream pies, and orange drink, lemonade, grape juice, hot cold or hard cider, root beer, ginger beer, cream soda, Yoo Hoo, Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, Seven-Up, Sprite, RC, Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola, Sundrop Golden Cola, buttermilk, and just enough brandy to float the Queen Elizabeth II. Up and down each aisle banners flapped and fluttered, cheering the Packers, boosting Mequon, Fond du Lac, Ashbwaubenon, etc., shouting Support Our Troops, loving Favre, hating Favre and, above all, cheering the Packers. Makeshift flagpoles thrust above the hubbub, abundant and multi-bannered, advertised families, groups, cartoon characters, military units, political candidates, favorite beers, beloved towns, Jolly Rogers, the United States of America, No. 4 Forever and Death to No. 4 and, above all, the Packers. People mingled in mellow multitude, everyone green-clad and greasy-faced with feasting, everyone holding a drink, laughing, shouting, remembering each other, kidding, nudging and toasting one another, asking after families, describing surgeries and falling into embraces.
So, no, Trish couldn’t quite tell who had called out in her direction.
“You, dearie. Come over here now before you get trampled.”
Trish saw her finally, beckoning from an open-sided tent, its roof striped in green-and-gold with a huge “G” on each panel. Wearing an apron with a giant “G” that seemed to swell her ample bosom, she was brandishing a ladle and smiling. She might be 60, thought Trish, her hair still dark, her gestures still fluid, her face rosy with welcome.
Trish approached her, bumping into a family, who excused themselves profusely.
“Oh, it’s OK,” said Trish.
“We’re the Petersons,” said the woman who had collided with Trish. “I’m Arlene. This is Fred. And our kids, David, Maddy and Liza.” The kids hit Trish with a fusillade of “Hi!”
Trish said, “Um, I’m Trish.”
“Trish! That’s great! Well, have a great time, Trish! Go, Pack, right?”
“Yeah,” replied Trish. “Go, Pack.” And the Petersons passed politely and merrily out of Trish’s life.
“I’m Aggie,” said the woman, leading Trish out of traffic. “Aggie Aldenderfer.”
Trish introduced herself.
“Wouldja like a beer? How about a soda?”
“A beer would be—”
A man thrust a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon into Trish’s hand.
“I’m Elmer! Aggie’s husband. Listen, Trish. You gotta have some of Aggie’s jambalaya. Learned how to make it while we were down in Mississippi. Kiln, Mississippi. That’s spelled with an ‘n,’ but you don’t pronounce it.. It’s Brett Favre’s hometown. You ever been there?”
“No . . . ”
“Oh, you gotta go. Even though, well, you know. He’s not one of us anymore. But anyway, Aggie goes into this little joint in New Orleans and we order jambalaya and I say, son of a bitch, this is the best thing I ever ate, and the next thing you know, Aggie’s in the kitchen, talkin’ to this big old colored lady, Elmira, was that her name?”
“Elvira,” said Aggie.
“Elvira. Well, goddamn if they don’t get along like a couple of long lost sisters, and we end up comin’ home with this jambalaya recipe that Aggie’s been makin’ ever since. Aggie, f’Chrissake, tell me to shut up.”
“Shut up, Elmer,” said Aggie, kissing Elmer.
And they all laughed. Aggie hugged Trish, and they all had jambalaya, along with three other people who introduced themselves as Jake, Emily and Ray.
“Wow,” said Ray. “This stuff is great!”
“You wouldn’t believe how we got the recipe,” roared Elmer. And he told the whole story over again, referring to the “big old colored lady” as “Lavinia.”…
A Sunday Kind Of Love is a love triangle that entangles an unmarried woman, a married man, and the Green Bay Packers. All of them, in different ways, are revealed, thrilled, plunged into agony and altered forever in the course of this romance. It takes place in Wisconsin, during one of the most pivotal, controversial and dramatic seasons in the Packers’ history, the 2009 season.
Our protagonist is Trish Truschka, a lifelong wallflower who works as a clerk in a fictional state agency, the Bureau of Fallow Properties and Reclamation (BOFPAR), in Madison. Trish has been, for 10 years, madly infatuated with her boss, Allen Andrews, who is contentedly married. Allen and wife Priscilla have one child, a son, Brett — named after legendary Packers quarterback Brett Favre.
Trish’s scruples prevent her from pursuing a married man, which — along with her pathological shyness — explains why her love has gone so long unrequited. As our story begins, her oldest and best friend, Gary Bacchus, convinces her to forsake her principles and go whole-hog after the man of her dreams.
Assistance by his new girlfriend, Betsy, Gary launches Trish’s makeover, into the sort of woman who can turn Allen’s head and seduce him away from home and family. He instructs Trish that her attack must be two-pronged. While seducing the husband, Trish must also ingratiate herself with Priscilla, the wife, so as to judge the strength of their marriage. Are they really happy? Also, Gary tells Trish, it’s good policy to buddy up with Brett, the son, just in case you end up his stepmother.
Above all, Trish has to get inside Allen’s head. Is there anything, or anyone, more important to him than Priscilla and Brett?
Trish discovers that the answer has been staring her in the face for ten years, but she has never noticed it. The man is crazy about the Green Bay Packers! Suddenly, she realizes, she must learn. Football. The Packers.
This is a dread, daunting chore for a woman who has pointedly ignored football all her life. Trish begins reading and studying. She signs up for Packer websites. She tracks down Packer bars and starts up Packer chats wherever and whenever possible. She starts listening to sports talk-radio. As Trish’s “relationship” with the Packers grows, so grows her relationship with Allen. He confesses his deep anxiety about the quarterback dilemma. He reveals his hatred for Packers general manager Ted Thompson. But, even as he pours his heart out, he isn’t falling in love with Trish.
Everything changes, however, when Trish — against all odds — scores two season tickets to Lambeau Field, the Vatican of the NFL. This triumph costs all her savings and requires her to take out a loan on the equity in her condo.
But Packer tickets are the way to Allen Andrews’ heart. Bonded to each other by their seats in Section 115, Trish and Allen Andrews are together in Lambeau on every home-game Sunday from morning ‘til night. The affair begins.
Trish’s inevitable guilt for all her deceptions is assuaged by a growing number of other new friends bestowed by the Packers. She finds new friends and a true confidant — Aggie Aldenderfer — among the tailgaters of Lambeau Field. Her neighbors in Section 115, especially the Zimmerman family from Manitowoc, welcome Trish enthusiastically. Back home in Madison, she becomes a regular at a downtown Packer bar called The Flagon, where she finds wisdom, community, poetry, song, laughter, consolation and a complete circle of real friends.
In the beginning of her adventure, Gary and Betsy transformed Trish physically — slimming her down, dressing her up, teaching her how to do her hair and makeup. But Packer Nation — along with Priscilla and Brett —transform her socially and emotionally.
But with all these changes, Trish begins to see Allen Andrews differently. She gradually, reluctantly begins to understand why no one else at BOFPAR likes the guy. The love affair, about which she had dreamed for ten years, turns into a tangled dilemma that even Trish — whose powers of denial are formidable — cannot ignore.
In the final third of A Sunday Kind Of Love, Trish copes with her romantic crisis while emerging fully from her shell. The story takes a dark twist before unveiling a series of climactic surprises.
Of course, as Trish’s emotional rollercoaster careens along its tortuous course, so does the Packers’ rocky 2009 season. In quarterback Aaron’s Rodger’s second year as a starter, he was still unproven in the eyes of most Packer fans. Complicating this unresolved drama is the fact that Brett Favre, Rodgers’ sainted predecessor as the Packer quarterback, came out of retirement at the last minute, and decided to keep playing in the NFL. In a twist that no fiction writer would dare introduce for fear of shattering the story’s credibility, Favre signed up with the Packers’ most hated rival, the Minnesota Vikings. Every Packer fan was torn. In A Sunday Kind Of Love, Allen Andrews typifies the anguish of this season of divided loyalties. Andrews loves the Packers but — in many ways — he loves Favre more.
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