When fate smiles on the weenie

By Steve Estes

I have, by virtue of a very fortuitous set of circumstances, placed myself in a quandary of my own making from which I am uncertain how to extricate myself.

Late last season, I was in the office by myself late in the afternoon. This isn’t an infrequent occurrence because we have a small staff, of which Holly and I are two-thirds, and our third member, excluding delivery drivers on an as-needed basis, only works prior to publication deadline.

If Holly is busy elsewhere, and she is a busy lady, I am busy here, so I wind up late afternoons pulling solo shifts, especially on Fridays.

So in walks this unassuming woman, garbed in bicycle gear and begins to ask questions about a recent edition where we ran some letters to the editor concerning the zip line project at Crane Point Hammock in Marathon.

I wasn’t exceedingly familiar with the project, but told her what I knew and dug up the editions where we had published letters on the subject. We had a pleasant conversation.

As the conversation began to wind down, she asked me if that was my red Jeep in the parking lot. (This was before Holly traded off my Jeep for the four-door soccer-Mom version in an SUV)

Yes, it was, answered I.

She had noticed on the way through the parking lot that the Jeep carried a front license plate signifying my support of my original hometown football team, the Cincinnati Bengals.

I grew up just outside of Cincinnati and left for college and started moving further south for the rest of my life until I came here, as far south as I can get without leaving the country.

During my tenure in the Buckeye State (Who but Ohioans would proudly admit they have a poisonous nut for a state tree?) I first rooted for the Cleveland Browns because that’s all we had.

And I was a big fan of Paul Brown, the original founder of the Cleveland team. I was happy, even though I was a young fan, when Paul came south and started the Bengals franchise.

I watched the local television news the day Paul Brown drafted his first-ever player in the NFL expansion draft, a left tackle named Ernie Wright.

I was hooked and a fan from that day forward.

But I was young, and I have this thing for bright colors, so when I first watched the Bengals play the Dolphins in that aqua and orange, I became an instant fan of the Miami Dolphins.

And to this day I have a split allegiance, one part of me rooting for the old hometown team, even during the days they were commonly referred to as the Bungles, and the other part an avid follower of the Dolphins.

So when she learned that I was indeed a fan of the Bengals she introduced herself to me. Names hadn’t been important up to that point.

Turns out she is the widow of the late Paul Brown. I have to admit I was more than a little star struck. I didn’t get that big a charge out of helping actress Kelly McGillis with her groceries at Winn Dixie several years back.

So we had a long conversation that spanned much of the afternoon, she telling insider stories of the Bengals and me searching my memory for tidbits from days long past.

As the conversation wound down, she asked me if I ever returned to the Buckeye State.

“Yes, I still have family there and try to get back once in a while when economics and reason dictates.”

So she proceeds to offer me tickets to a Bengals game should they ever play what she referred to as my “adopted” team, the Dolphins.

And thus was the beginnings of a new adventure for the NFL released its scheduled for the coming year and there was a Bengals/Dolphins matchup.

I called Mary and told her the news and asked her if she was indeed serious about the ticket offer.

She replied she was and said that two tickets would be in the mail the next day for the game.

True to her word, the tickets arrived in the mail in less than a week. I was expecting upper row seats on the visitors’ side of the field, which was okay because I can root just as enthusiastically for either team in this case. What she sent were club level seats on the 50-yard line.

Seats, as in plural—two. My Dad still lives in the area in the summer, here in the winter. Who else?

So now I have new things to worry about. It will be early October in Ohio. It will be chilly. I have a Bengals sweatshirt with no hood, and a Dolphins sweatshirt with a hood. But I am a cold weenie and those may not be enough to keep me from freezing among what I am sure will be a bunch of short-sleeved fans at the stadium in Cincinnati.

So I have wrestled with the clothing issue. Do I brave the cold—and the consequences of it—and just wear my Dolphins gear proudly, or do I fudge my allegiances and wear my long-sleeved Bengals shirt underneath my Dolphins hoodie?

If the Dolphins are winning, I keep on the hoodie, but if the Bengals take over, I divest myself of the hoodie and flash the Bengals black-and-orange like a native.

Decisions, decisions.

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