Friday, February 7, 2014

The Last Time I Saw my Dad in His Underwear

Arriving NYC in Style
The last time I saw my dad in his underwear was in a dressing room at JC Penneys.  I was in grade school and he was there to help me buy some "back-to-school" clothes.  As I was trying on pants, I was awkwardly dragging the pant legs on the dressing room floor.  The only way he could correct this was to show me how to properly take off and put on a pair of slacks without picking up whatever was on the floor.  This was likely very important for someone who grew up on a tobacco farm that didn't have but one pair of fancy pants.  This is one of those father-to-son lessons that I still deploy...especially, if I'm changing in bathroom stall at an airport.  Trust me, you don't want your pants mopping up an airport bathroom floor.

I was fortunate enough to draw the "long straw" among all my family members to accompany my dad to the Super Bowl this last week in New York City.  As I wrote in my Bronco's memories blog, my family is fanatic when it comes to Broncos.  I won't talk about the game itself or the disappointment here...I'm still in therapy and that part is still too painful.  What I didn't want is for the loss to tarnish the image of getting to see my dad in his underwear again.  Nothing improper here other than an awkward metaphor and that I'd be sharing a hotel room for four days with my dad.

What I started to realize when we left for New York City was that I'd never gone on a trip with my dad...just the two of us.  The Broncos "foot the bill" for tickets, airfare, and hotel so the least I could do was return the favor to my dad by making the time in the "Big Apple" special.

Before leaving Denver, we dined at Elway's at Denver International Airport.  It seemed only fitting.  He was dressed "head-to-toe" in Broncos orange and blue as he was throughout the trip.  I'm used to travel as I've flown over 100,000 miles the last two years so I know my way around an airport and hotel.  The charter flight itself was awesome. We spent four days as part of the "Broncos Family" with first class treatment.  On our flight were former Broncos including Rod Smith and current injured players that didn't fly out earlier in the week including Von Miller, Derek Wolfe, and Chris Harris.  I tried to act cool and resisted the temptation to ask for an autograph.  My dad on the other hand knows how to "work a room."

Denver's Mayor Hancock was on the flight and my dad made a point to shake his hand and introduce himself even though I know he didn't vote for him.  This was one of the many things I'd tease him about that week to get a laugh and he always did (laugh.)  I also became my Dad's "handler" that week getting him to and from places, making sure I wasn't wearing him out, or going beyond a velvet rope he wasn't supposed to.  I blinked and couldn't catch him before he asked the Bronco's Chris Harris for his phone number so he could send him the send-off Broncos video his (oldest) son made.  One of many people my dad asked for phone numbers so he could send the video.  We had a lot of laughs over that, and his wife finally told him to stop calling home and asking him to forward the video to any more people.

Getting off the flight was down the stairs onto the tarmac with the buses nearby that would take us straight to the Marriott near Wall Street in New York City.  There was no papparazi, but it felt like their should be.  Dad and son were walking like Broncos royalty.  The rest of day one was waiting for luggage, checking in, and me getting in a quick run.  We ended the night with a light dinner since we were still full from the endless stream of chips, candy bars, and Haagen Dazs on the charter flight.

As my dad sat there at the hotel bar dressed in Broncos gear a woman and her husband struck up a conversation.  She had more than a few glasses of white wine, and asked my dad, "where are you from?"  My dad, her husband, and I all burst out laughing.."where do you think?"  Her husband took some immediate wrath as she explained she meant "what part of Denver are you from?"  Another "inside joke" that we'd throw around throughout the trip.

For our free time during the day in the city, I wanted to show my dad some iconic parts of New York.  We caught the 9/11 Memorial and Times Square which was a complete "mad house" with the game's festivities.  We also played "tourist" and went to the top of the Empire State Building which had some absolutely breathtaking views of Manhattan.  With my brother's suggestion, we also stopped into Grand Central Station which was also pretty amazing.  As a movie buff, the images made it feel as if we were in a movie and once again caught some great photos.

With the Broncos VIP treatment, we had tickets to the invite-only "Broncos Bash" on Friday night at the 40/40 club.  We missed the Broncos bus from the hotel and the door man offered a white stretch limo out front.  When will my dad ever ride in Manhattan in a limo again I thought.  We splurged and rolled up in style to the party as my dad recalled business trips in DC where someone got out of hand and stood up in the limo's moonroof.  He didn't say if he was "that guy" but he could have been.

Our names were not on the list, but we had the VIP bracelets and both talked our way into the party.  The best part of that night was meeting some of my Dad's neighbors who are part of the youth movement that's moved into my Dad's older Bonnie Brae area in Denver.  They all raved about "Tom" and joked that he was quite the charmer around the ladies.

He was in "rare form" as he once again worked the room, got his picture with Hall of Famer, Floyd Little, and with a couple cheerleaders in the photo booth.  We all joked that he had improper placement of hands on the cheerleaders.  John Elway was nearby holding "center court" at the party exuding confidence before the "big game."  There were local car dealer owners, and lawyers you recognized from T.V. ads.  My dad and I both socialized throughout the room as I guess it's true that the "apple does not fall far from the tree."  We were able to leave after some woman who had too much to drink told me I looked like Kevin Bacon, but was much better looking.  With dad and son both getting compliments, we were ready to head home to call our wives.

The last night before the game, we (I) was tired from all the running around New York and opted to have dinner next door at Morton's Steakhouse.  We dined in the bar off their "happy hour" menu as player families filed in and out.  My dad asked the bartender for a "good glass of red wine."  I interceded the process and steered to a good glass...I'm not sure he realized that a "good glass" at Morton's could cost $40 in New York City.  We laughed some more and enjoyed the filet medallions and steak tacos.  Over the weekend, we became good roommates and yes, I got to see my dad in his underwear again and learned that he likes to sleep with the thermostat set to 60 degrees. #longunderwear weather for me.

I got my run in over the Brooklyn Bridge as I've always wanted to do on the upper wood planked section, but as one of my running friends quiped back home, it's funner to run below (via the New York City Marathon.)

The day of the game was a blast as I was hoping to witness my dad see his team finally win a Super Bowl in person.  He went to the Giants game in Pasadena for Super Bowl XXI to see Phil Simm's Giants beat Elway.  Having watched 100's of games, I wanted it for him, but it was just not meant to be.  After the national anthem and helicopter flyover, the next few hours were miserable. Texts with family back home went from jubiliation, to #WTF, to depression.  We have some hard-core Broncos fans in this family.  The few days after still ached for the whole family, but I'm not sure I'd change a thing since I got a trip of a lifetime out of it...other than to give my dad the gift of seeing a Broncos' Super Bowl victory.  Next year.

Footnote:  A special thanks to the Denver Broncos organization and all the folks from the Guest Relations that treated us with this trip and treat my dad like he is Broncos royalty.

2 comments:

  1. Love it,Ty, thanks for sharing your story. I can tell that you treasure the time spent with your dad. Hope they get that win next year, too!

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  2. Loved this blog, Tom, and thanks for sending this to me! Happy you had such a special and unforgettable (remember, we are getting older...) time with your son! Remember, the Broncos will beat anybody that gets in our way this year! Thinking of you, and thanks--Anita

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine