We’re a little burned out. We’re not in our thirties anymore. Duncan comes to the gym and works out. He’s eating better. We’re not doing Philly Tacos anymore. (Philly Cheesesteaks rolled in giant slices of pizza from Lorenzos on South Street.) There is no Heavy Metal here. I think Duncan wishes his father was here to share this moment with him. My father is long gone and so is my mother and I’ve already forgiven and buried them.
Duncan speaks of a time when he and his father would watch the Eagles together when he was a kid. They are some of my friend’s finest memories with his father. His dad was a hard man but this was something they shared.
I get it. My father and I shared a love of film.
If the Eagles win the Superbowl Duncan would love nothing more than to go to the parade with his dad. But his father has already declined, but that sucks because that motherfucker should be at that parade with his boy. Just another failure as a parent when you could actually do he right thing by your son.
But I digress…
I’m at the salon until 4. We have no plan. It’s horrible, Duncan is worried. He expected the King of Philly to have it locked down. No dice. Ticketed events and no idea where to go for a sporting event.
Duncan shows up at the salon an hour before closing and I ply him with soft pretzels and Tastycakes. (I knew it would work because he’s a Philly guy and I’ll figure it out)
It bought me some time before I closed the salon and I have no idea where we’re going to watch the Super Bowl.
I tell him I brought a flask and he can fill it with whatever he wants.
Duncan heads down the street and buys a fifth of Plantation Rum. It’s $50 a bottle so I’m down with drinking that.
He actually figures out a way to get the booze into the flask without spilling it by using the card that the Tastycakes rest on as a cylinder to pour the booze. Pure genius. A McGyver moment on this Super Bowl Sunday.
We’re set. Like we’ve been set in the past but tonight it’s raining and we have no idea where we should go. For the first time we’re at the hands of fate. I feel bad I haven’t set up a cool spot for my friend who has traveled 1500 miles and paid for a hotel and paid for food and drinks and now I can’t deliver on the only thing my friend wants.
But then we come up with an idea…
We head to the Ritz Carlton. Maybe the bar won’t be packed. Hopefully the people who are there won’t be a bunch of animals like everywhere else in this fair city.
Normally on a day like this you should already have your spot to watch the game staked out. But I closed the salon at 4 and now we’re trudging through the rain towards Broad Street.
We get to the Ritz and have no problem getting in. There are a few clusters of tables throughout but most are Reserved.
Yea… this bar is amazing.
We get to the bar and there are no seats available. We drop our wet coats and umbrella. We decide the best course of action is to order beers. The bartenders are really busy so when we finally snag one, we order four beers. He’s happy to oblige and Duncan starts a tab.
We know we need to eat so we grab a menu and decide what we want. That’s when the bartender comes back and tells us there is one seat at the back left corner of the bar. We jump on that. It’s a perfect seat. I tell Duncan to take it. He says we’ll take turns. I don’t care. I’m accustomed to being on my feet for long periods of time at the salon. The seat is directly in front of a big flat screen TV.
We’ve done it. This is the most important moment of the entire weekend. Duncan has a front row seat to watch the Superbowl, a drink in his hand, and food on the way.
For me? Mission Accomplished.
To be honest I don’t care about sports. I never have. Do I enjoy watching the important games? Absolutely. But I’m just not a die-hard fan like most men.
My goal is for Duncan to be happy. He came all the way up here for his 50th birthday and to watch the Eagles play in the Superbowl and hopefully win. I’m happy to see him and we’ve had a great weekend together.
The game begins and it’s a tense match. The Patriots have won five Superbowls. The Eagles have never won. There is a stressful exchange of power during this game. When our team gets a goal, the place erupts in cheers. But when it goes the other way, a nervous hush falls over the crowd here at the Ritz.
Like I said, I’m not a sports fan. But that game was probably the greatest sporting event I have ever seen. It was a nail biter to the final minutes.
The Philadelphia Eagles Win the Superbowl!!!
The place goes crazy. Duncan jumps on me and hugs me like it’s his last time. I’m high fiving and hugging people I don’t even know who have come out of the kitchen to watch. It was one of Philadelphia’s most glorious moments in history. We witnessed it at a lovely bar near a big TV. We really lucked out. Every place was packed or sold out. Duncan had a ringside seat and we were together for this moment.
That’s all that matters to me.
I turn around and the whole place is emptying out. Duncan says he’s going to watch the award ceremony. I tell him I’m going out front for a celebratory smoke.
When I was out here smoking earlier it was pouring raining. There was only two people out on the street.
Now I can’t even see Broad Street.
It is a sea of people.
Thousands and thousands of people have poured out of every bar, tavern or tap-room, and are now marching in the streets of Philadelphia. Cheering, waving flags, chanting, and carrying swag. There are idiots climbing the light poles, but that always happens when we have a major win. There’s a guy trying to rip the Broad Street sign from the pole. There are people dancing on the top of the newsstands. Groups of drunken revelers sitting on top of the bus stop shelter.
But, it’s surprisingly peaceful. There’s just so many people. If something erupted, I don’t think the cops could do anything. People are high fiving and hugging. It’s just such a happy joyous moment in our city’s sports history.
Duncan joins me and he’s loving it. Neither of us have ever seen anything like this in our lives. In 2008 when the Phillies won the World’s Series, the same thing happened, but this seems bigger. We’ve NEVER won the Super bowl. This is huge!
People were going crazy all over the city. I saw people riding on the top of cars like it was nothing. They’re firing fireworks off right over the crowd. It’s insane. Duncan and I hung out on the front of the Ritz for what seemed like two hours. Just watching the spectacle of this celebration from our safe perch. I’d occasionally whip out the flask of Plantation Rum and pass it to him. It was cold out there that night but the rum warmed our bellies.
We were going to leave through the side exit instead of diving right into this madness. But we were told by security that a bunch of people climbed onto the canopy over the door and it collapsed. All I saw was a twisted pile of rubble blocking the exit.
We eventually made it back to Duncan’s hotel. We both flopped in a couple of comfy chairs in the lobby trying to process what just happened. The Eagles beating the New England Patriots and winning their first Super Bowl. The frenzy in the streets that would probably last all night. It was probably one of the best times Duncan and I ever had together.
I’m glad I got to share it with my very best friend.
Here’s a glimpse of what we witnessed.
In a sad footnote to this blog that was obviously written a year ago, my dear friend Duncan just lost his mother. At 72 she suddenly had a stroke, and after a fierce battle succumbed to death a week later. We are all reeling from this terrible news and are trying to grasp what has happened to suddenly take her from us. She was a wonderful human being and we will all feel the void of her going. We can only move on now and know that we may all meet again when we are all equal.
I love you Duncan, and cherish our friendship that sometimes I don’t even feel like I deserve. I hope you and your family can get through this together and know that life is beautiful, fleeting and fragile.
You knew her for half a century and that is a long time to love in this short time we have on Earth with each other.
I’ve lost both of my parents in a two year span. It is devastating to a family to lose even one of the people that brought us all here.
But we’ll find a way to get through it and move it forward.
Just like we always do.
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