Today is the day for which my father began preparing me since at least 1985, if not earlier. As child growing up in the Chicago area in the 1980s, I was a huge Cubs fan (in those days, games were only played in the day, so I could watch them on TV easily, not like today when baseball starts at night, but I digress), but I didn't care much for football. My dad, on the other hand, didn't care to much about baseball, but was a boisterous Chicago Bears fan. Every Sunday in the fall and early winter, he would scream at the TV and jump up and down so hard that the house shook. After a few of our friends were startled by the commotion, my sister and I decided it might be best not to invite people over on game days. The Bears are playing their arch rival, the Green Bay Packers, this afternoon. If this had happened in the '80s and even early '90s, my dad would round my sister and I up and make us hum the Bears fight song with him to get psyched. Well, he would get psyched. We would roll our eyes and wander off to play Barbies when we were released from our duties. It was my own fault that we had the ritual. I saw a team button at a garage sale one summer that played the fight song when you pressed it, and I bought it for him. I gave him the tool of my own short-term torment.
When I spoke to my dad last week about the game, I told him how eagerly I anticipated it. He said he himself was not too excited. "They're playing in their own stadium and not expected to win," he said. "It's not looking good. When you aren't even expected to win in the home field, it's not worth getting worked up about." But I told him that I was not giving up hope. He taught me better than that. For a special game like Bears versus Packers for a chance at the Super Bowl, I learned my lessons well. I'm putting on my scary bear hat (solidarity!) and yelling, "Go Bears!!!!"