We're going to ignore the fact that training camp is not actually in Buffalo and focus on the fact that the Bills are. Except for now. And those games in Toronto. Otherwise, they're totally in Buffalo.
I'll be honest, I'm not a huge football fan. I mostly understand it but I just don't find it terribly interesting. I don't get people who complain about baseball being slow but spend an entire day watching football. I'm pretty sure if you take away the pregame, half-time, and postgame shows, the commercial breaks, the huddling, and the running on and off the fields, you're left with 12 minutes of actual play per game. I grew up in Alabama where college football is the equivalent of life itself and I managed to escape without really falling in love with the sport (although I highly recommend attending a big SEC game if you ever have the chance because the atmosphere really is amazing and you can't help but get sucked into the sheer joy and insanity of it all) so I figured that was pretty much all she wrote for football and me.
But I kind of got into the Bills last season which is crazy considering that they weren't really that good. I thought there was something really likable about them and so I'm going to try and make an effort to follow them this season. I might even play fantasy football which will be a first. I've played baseball and hockey but that's it. Oh, and I got a Bills jersey for Christmas. So you know, there are seeds of interest there.
Okay, so I wrote all of the above before we actually left for training camp. Sounds pretty happy and optimistic, right? Well... little did I know.
I should start at the beginning. Mark and I decided to junk some of our current furniture rather than bother moving it to the house and the junkers came this morning to cart it all away. This furniture has been in the same place for four or five years so moving it kicked up all kinds of dust which had my sinuses going completely haywire after what was already a tough week in that regard. My head was throbbing, my eyes were watering, and I could feel everything creeping toward my left ear. Those of you following 100 Things will recall that I am friggin' miserable when my ears hurt.
When the very nice junk guys left, we filled up our gas tank, and headed out. We got all the way to the general Rochester area with no problems at all.
And then we got lost.
And then we got lost in another direction.
And then we got lost in yet another direction.
We saw all of Pittsford and the surrounding towns at least three times and while it's a cute little place, it's just not really that interesting. We finally pulled over so Mark could ask for directions and take over the wheel. I promptly curled into a ball of misery.
It wasn't pretty. Mark was crabby that somewhere the afternoon practice had already started and I was crabby because I hated everything about life at that moment. The place where we stopped had no idea where we needed to go but they were kind enough to pull up Mapquest directions for us.
We finally found the off-location parking and we were then bussed to St. John Fisher's College. I ride a bus to another building for our specials classes (gym, art etc.) every day so this isn't an unusual thing for me but it was pretty amusing seeing a bunch of grown men in Bills jerseys piled on a school bus. In retrospect. At the time it was just hot and miserable.
Thank God in heaven, we finally, finally made it. Bills training camp, 2008!
I have to admit, things didn't get much better from there. Mark was kind of bummed that we'd already missed half of practice. It was around 3 when we finally got there - we left home at 11:30 - and my mood was just shot. My lack of football knowledge didn't help. I knew who was on defense and who was on offense but I don't know enough about the various positions to know who was doing what well and who was screwing up. I also only know five guys by number - Paul Posluszny, Marshawn Lynch, Donte Whitner, Trent Edwards and JP Lossman - so I was definitely lacking the player recognition that I have with the Sabres. Had I been in a better spot I might have been a little more willing to learn something, but this was not the good Heather. Mark mentioned stopping and eating before we left and while I didn't verbally respond, I think it was clear I really just wanted to go home. So I was really grumpy that he wanted to prolong the trip, he was really grumpy that I was so grumpy, and that made me even grumpier because jeez, can't a girl just be grumpy once in a while?
And then the batteries in my camera died and the last piece of my soul died with them.
Only one man had the power to save the day now. That man? Paul Posluszny. Let me explain: I love everything about Paul Posluszny. He seems so sweet and genuine and I just want to hug him. And that's not a euphemism. While he's definitely a cutie pie, I'm not really attracted to him in that way. I've joked with Mark that Poz is my back-up husband in case anything ever happens to him but I really just want to hug him and hang out with him. I already loved the guy and then I read this little piece on him. He's the only player who didn't bring a TV for his dorm room and he also doesn't have a laptop. He's passing his free time by reading. Guns, Germs, and Steel. That's like... a real book. I totally love this kid.
After practice a bunch of players lined the field and started signing autographs. Now, I'm not a huge autograph person. I've never, ever stood in a crowd of people for an athlete's autograph before, not even when I was a kid. (I was pretty shy about that kind of thing when I was a kid though so that was probably part of it.) But Mark had suggested bringing a sharpie along and even though I really just wanted to go home I thought, what the heck, why not? This day can't get any worse.
I'm so, so glad I stuck around. Even if I hadn't gotten anything signed, watching Poz in that situation was pretty wonderful. I would never ever criticize a guy just cranking out autographs without paying attention to what he's doing because he's still going out of his way to do something for fans but when a guy takes those few extra seconds to look up and make eye contact with the person he's taking a photo or poster or jersey from and responds to whatever comment they make to him and then looks up again when he hands their stuff back it's really awesome. It's such a small thing but he was out there for a really long time - he was still signing when we left - and he made a lot of people really happy. He went out of his way to fuss over the little guy beside me who was probably five or six. Totally adorable. And hey, Poz even had enough power to make my camera batteries rejuvenate themselves long enough for me to take a few more pictures.
Here, for all posterity, is the conversation Paul and I shared today as he signed my jersey:
Heather B: Thanks a lot, Paul.
Paul: No problem.
Heather B: It's really good to see you back on the field.
Paul: Hey, thanks. It's definitely good to be out there again.
I think we really connected.
Poz gets a major thumbs-up for taking the time to write legibly as well. His signature actually looks like his name. I have to give him that over even Hank. A lot of the stuff I've seen with Hank's autograph is basically "HT 10" which is totally lame.
So thank you, Paul Posluszny. You totally salvaged my day.