[I posted part 1 just so I could tell today’s story; which is actually true (though I’m leaving out some details).]
Y’all know I regularly go “off grid”, spend time talking to trees, and otherwise avoid the normal zeitgeist everyone takes for granted. I don’t watch TV and ignore most of what passes for “news”. I talk to my dog instead. I find a higher level of intellectual discourse that way. Sometimes I take this feeling of “distance” to extremes. One particular situation had me arriving in America after many months abroad. I was a fish out of water.
I barely had time to shake off jet lag and ponder the novelty of a place where money was dollars and everyone spoke English (obviously I returned to America and not California) when I wound up in a semi rolling down the highway. Good thing I wasn’t driving because I hadn’t seen a real interstate for a goodly time. I spent most of the time beaming with joy at the quality of our roads. American highways are huge!
After a couple of days delivering barrels of industrial lubricants (and making every kind of disgusting joke you can imagine) we wound up in Wisconsin. We’d swapped trailers and were laden with a payload of something like 15 tons of ketchup.
Yep, ketchup. If it goes on your fries, it came in a truck.
Finally, we pulled into a truck stop. I love truck stops! Nothing like a greasy burger and 100 gallons of diesel to shake off the residue of “expatriate” and ease back into my true “Merican” heart and soul. I tanked the truck while the driver went inside to eat. Then I joined him.
. . .
Something was terribly wrong. I mean super wrong. We sat down to get dinner but everyone was screaming with ecstatic joy. There was shouting. There were high fives. Things were being playfully tossed about. Everyone was drunk. It was like Denny’s at 2:00 am but if you served crystal meth on the pancakes.
People were running up and down the aisles; arms in the air, whooping and shouting. Only the driver and I were unaffected.
I collared one of the revelers. “What. The. Fuck. Are. You. Doing?”
“Whooooooo!!!! YEAAAAAAAHHHHH!” He explained. Then he pivoted away, crashed into the pie display, and charged out of the restaurant. Several equally incoherent peers followed. One fell into a snowdrift and his friends joyously dragged him out. Then they threw him back in. Or maybe fell in after him. It was hard to say. Someone in a Chevy was doing donuts in the parking lot. The waitress was bouncing around and could barely focus to take our order. It was New Years eve, a Bacchanalia, and last call… all at once. But less nattily attired.
My driver wasn’t the sort of fellow to get out much either. Nice guy but of the two of us I was supposedly the one who was worldly wise. For example I’d been the navigator the whole trip. I nodded at the mayhem. He shrugged his shoulders. We were clueless.
I noticed a few of the maniacs had tri-cornered hats. Something like the fashion of a colonial American in 1780, or the label of a Samuel Adams beer bottle. It wasn’t Independence day. Also the color was all wrong. Sort of a hybrid of Paul Revere and Spongebob Squarepants.
I cornered another one. “What’s with the hat?”
“WWWWAAAAAAAHHHHHH! CHEESE HEADS!” He screamed.
I leaned over to the driver. “This is weird. Let’s roll.”
He agreed and five minutes later we were on the highway hoping to find a state where the water wasn’t laced with LSD.
That was my introduction to Green Bay Packers Fans. They proudly call themselves Cheeseheads; which should tell you what you’re getting into when you meet them.
It was the winter of ’97 and the Packers had won the Superbowl just hours before my arrival. I had no idea. As far as I could tell, everyone in Wisconsin inexplicably decided to drink a keg of beer, put a foam triangle in their head, and run around in the snow like lemurs on crack. I presumed it had something to do with cabin fever or maybe ice fishing. Lacking context, I was denied critical, need-to-know information. I was unexpectedly thrust into Wisconsin just as the entire state had a synchronized sports related orgasm.
Packers fans are not “fans”. They are a highly evolved species of beer and cheese consuming super-beings. I love ’em for that!
Since that strange (and mildly terrifying) introduction, I cannot help but hold up Packers fans as the ultimate distillation of sweet and harmless American football fandom. They are just as crazy as the most devoted soccer hooligans or rugby fans or any other cult-like team supporters but they’re nice. And drunk. But they’re nice drunks. And there’s cheese. For some reason the cheese matters. I don’t know, you’ll have to ask them.
I salute Cheeseheads because they’re sweet, loud, and planet level loopy. My only caveat is they should put up a warning sign on the Wisconsin line. Folks who haven’t yet met one need to be warned.