By Lisa Cowan
Lisa Cowan is part of the digital staff at The Seattle Times. Despite being born and raised in Renton, she hates rain but has maintained her love for the Seahawks as she went to college and worked at newpapers around the Northwest.
It’s hard work being a 12th Man.
After moving away for 27 years, I recently returned to Seattle. A dear friend gave me the opportunity to buy two of her season tickets in the Hawks Nest (north end zone). I jumped at the chance, but quickly learned what it’s like to be a real Seahawks fan.
Forget the actual game and cheering the team: It’s a full-day’s work just getting to kick off.
6:10 a.m. Wake up. Check outside: Despite stormy night, it’s actually not raining.
6:20 a.m. Start making the giant tray of mac and cheese that somehow became my primary duty for every tailgate this season. By now I have the Martha Stewart recipe memorized, but (as with most things) it’s better with bacon.
6:30 a.m. Make coffee to help wake up bleary-eyed boyfriend. Both of us reconsider Friday night’s second martini.
7:15 a.m. Boyfriend Chris Wisniewski loads the truck: chairs, cooler, game snacks, umbrella, rain gear, ponchos, extra gloves, towels. But this is nothing – I am just one small spoke of our tailgate wheel. Master Tailgater Pam’s prep involves a major Costco run, eight big plastic bins of gear, grill, hotplates, two propane heaters, four tables and two tents.
7:30 a.m. Text to make sure we are tailgating in our usual spot on Utah Avenue below Holgate. Our usual $20 parking is now $40 for this playoff game. Really?
8:15 a.m. Don Seahawks wear. Realize that retro T-shirt worn to every game is dirty. Hand wash retro T-shirt and dry with hair dryer because this is not the time to test if a lack of wearing of retro T-shirt will affect the game result.
Seriously question why I didn’t think to buy rubber boots before this game. Hope the current dry skies miraculously stay. Realize I’m an idiot if I think this will happen.
8:35 a.m. Pull mac and cheese from oven, jump in the truck with semi-awake boyfriend and head to the game. Living in the Central District, it’s a quick drive. Pam and her husband Randy drive down from Arlington. Other regulars come from all over the Seattle area and the Eastside.
8:50 a.m. Arrive at tailgate. Tents and tables are set up already and breakfast is in full swing – scrambled eggs, biscuits with gravy and mini cinnamon rolls. Coffee with a splash of Bailey’s. It’s still not raining. The food’s delicious.
8:55 a.m. Find out that the business that rents us parking is allowing us to use their bathroom. Extra $20 for parking is now worth every single penny.
9:17 a.m. Shawn (Pam’s son) tore his Achilles several weeks ago and has a big plastic boot/air cast. To keep his foot from getting wet, his buddy Travis layers plastic tape over the boot with Seahawks duct tape finishing the masterpiece.
10 a.m. Take a stroll around Tailgate Land. Lots of bootleg handmade merchandise for sale: knit “helmets,” laser-cut logo coat racks, chainsaw-carved 12th Man statues. The folks at Hawk One (special tailgating RV) are in fine form. Lots of fans are huddling around firepits. It’s starting to drizzle.
11 a.m. The rain’s picking up. So is the wind. Good thing the tents are tied down. Help Pam heat up lunch. Chastise myself again for not buying rubber boots.
11:30 a.m. Pam rings the cowbell. Lunch menu: Chicken wings (2 pounds), pulled pork (10 pounds), meatballs (2 pounds), mac and cheese, chili (4 gallons) corn muffins, coleslaw, brownies, chocolate-dipped pretzels with blue and green sprinkles, chips, guac and miscellaneous other snacks. I count 37 people.
11:46 a.m. Get text from rabid fan friend living in North Carolina.
She says: I am so freaking jealous you can’t even believe it. Wish I got to go to the game 🙁
Me: IT IS POURING
Friend: Supposed to make it more fun, right?
I can’t text her back for worry that the my phone will get too wet.
Huddle under tents to finish lunch.
11:50 a.m. Help breakdown tailgate. In 20 minutes, no trace exists.
11:57 a.m. Layer on the layers. Curse lack of rubber boots. Feet are already soaking wet. Put on poncho over rain gear. It is so windy that the umbrella is deemed more of a hazard than help. Start marching toward the stadium.
12:30 p.m. Walking past Safeco, the rain has let up – a little. The good part about it raining so hard 20 minutes before? Normal rain feels like nothing.
12:46 p.m. Inside the stadium and settling into our seats in the Hawks Nest. But this is the Hawks Nest: These are bleachers, not seats, and we won’t be sitting. There’s a sun break and a little blue sky! Check phone. Instant weather app says sun break will only last 20 minutes. Instant weather app is right.
1:25 p.m. It’s raining. Hard. My feet feel like I’m standing in a bucket of ice water.
1:30 p.m. National Anthem in an absolute downpour.
1:35 p.m. Game time. I quickly forget about my chilly toes, the sideways rain and get wrapped up in the excitement of watching the Seahawks play at Century Link.
It’s worth it.
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