By: Kevin Rousseau - Kevin's Articles are Sponsored by
October 16, 2007

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Often times when we build up an event or trip with great anticipation, our hopes are not realized. Such was my fear before the big trip to Dallas to see the Patriots over the weekend with my tailgating gang. Three of us were going to fly down to Dallas on Saturday and stay with Stevie in his new digs. Stevie had just recently relocated to Texas due to his job. I'm here to report that the trip was everything I had hoped it would be. An A+ of a trip if there ever was one.

And here is the blow-by-blow account:

It started off on Saturday morning with a three hour drive down from Maine to the center of the universe, Salem, in order to meet up with Mark and Matt for a trip into Logan thanks to Matt's sister, Cheryl. If you haven't had the opportunity to meet Cheryl, you owe it to yourself to make your way down to the Gold's Gym in the Witch City and meet the kickboxing nanny. You too will be enthralled with her warm personality and cheerfulness. In my book, there are two deeds that rise above all else: helping someone move and the airport pickup/dropoff. You can tell a lot about someone by their cheerfulness during an early morning airport dropoff.

The flights down to Dallas worked out just fine and included the opening salvos of a three day-long idiot savant dialogue between Matt and myself on everything from former Red Sox players' hair (Marty Barrett vs. Bernie Carbo) to the benefits of airport fruit smoothies as part of a balanced, nutritious diet. I think Mark figured he was screwed somewhere over Syracuse.

"I've been working out a lot lately. Can't you tell? My brother tells me that this t-shirt makes me look like Mark Wahlberg. (Hold for laughter). No, seriously guys. It's true."

"I mean if The Police and Van Halen can do it, why can't Men at Work come back?"

"I've got one question for you, Mark. Is this ouuuuuurrrr country or what?"

After landing and watching the Boston College football game and debating the merits of BC graduates, it was off to someplace called the Gaylord Texan hotel to grab a bite to eat and watch the Red Sox game. The best way to describe this place is that it is like Weylu's with a hotel on steroids. If you need me to break down the Oklahoma-Missouri game from Saturday night feel free to drop me a line as this was on the 15'x52' screen with the Sox-Indians game on one of the small screens up in the corner. The waitress just laughed when Matt asked her why the Sox game wasn't on the big screen. Provincialism at its best on both sides of that one.

We made it back to Stevie's for the late innings of the game and collectively shuddered when Trot Nixon grabbed a bat. We've all seen how this act plays out. Stevie's friend Jules, who was down for the game as well, was the smart one and bailed out in the 10th inning. As the infamous 11th inning wore on, one-by-one each of us gave up with a "To hell with this" or a "F---- this". We didn't care much though as we had come down here to Metroplex USA to watch the Pats put a whopping on the Cowboys.

"I don't see no community down here. They might pretend they got it but it ain't like it is in Salem. Family and community. That's what we're all about."

We ended up tailgating across the highway from Texas Stadium and found ourselves in a row of Patriots fans oddly enough. For a minute, it felt like Foxboro. We knew it wasn't Foxboro though when we rolled up to the parking lot attendant and asked him how much it was to park and he apologetically said "$20". The collective laugh from the car was because the folks running the lot didn't know the value of a Foxboro parking space ($50) or the notion of cramming in cars like sardines.

And this is the point in the story where the trip takes an unexpected turn. It was a shock to see how good natured and friendly the Cowboys fans were. Sure, there was plenty of cameragate stuff coming our way but it never crossed the line in a visceral way. I only know the Foxboro way which is to unfortunately say the complete opposite for the most part.

As we made our way through a gauntlet of Cowboys fans into the stadium, we kept our mouths shut and smiled, knowing full well that it would be a fairly quiet walk on the way back to our car after the Pats took care of business. Besides, it was kind of cute that the Cowboys fans actually thought that their team had a chance. It was a rush to be in enemy territory.

"How 'bout them Patriots?"

Texas Stadium is a dump on the outside but jaw-dropping once you get inside into the stadium bowl. Amazingly, it looks more dramatic and larger than it does while watching on TV as you put away the turkey and stuffing every year. And then there's that roof.

"Anybody else hot in here? Let me borrow an ice cube from your soda. NOW!"

"How far away is the men's room? I'm gonna make a run for it next score."

The thing about the roof that you don't understand while passing your brother the mashed potatoes is that it acts like a convection oven. A dome has air conditioning and an open-air stadium has a natural breeze that passes through it. Not Texas Stadium. I felt like I was watching a game under a magnifying glass.

During pre-game introductions, it was a weird feeling to be quiet while the Cowboys were introduced to cheerleaders, fireballs and loud music. I'm used to being the one cheering.

"It's on like Donkey Kong."

As the game unfolded, once again Cowboys fans showed their class by never giving us the treatment that I was expecting. The guy in front of us was like a mini Larry the Cable Guy and had us laughing with his quips about Jabar Gaffney needing a double team. And believe it or not, the drama of the game was more intense than a usual Patriots home game.

"How so, Rousseau?"

When the Cowboys took a fumble back for a touchdown, the crowd erupted while our normal instinct was to moan. And when Welker, Moss, Stallworth, etc. went in for a touchdown, it was downright eerie to be able to hear your own cheers.

My roof-induced bout with malaria made one thing crystal clear as the game wore on into the second half. The huge time-of-possession difference (38 minutes to 22 minutes) was going to come back to haunt the Cowboys in the fourth quarter. And it did as the Patriot pulled away.

The cool breeze outside the stadium was the panacea for my roof-induced malaria and we enjoyed the victory lap back to the car.

"Cans? Who calls them 'cans' anymore? I bet you still pay the Light Bill and get a cold drink out of the Frigidaire."

"Matt, let's put together a podcast. You and me, bro. You up for it? Family and community. That's what we're all about."

"What the frig? No Dunkies down here. If I don't get a medium Dunkies soon, I might start shaking."

And so it went on into Sunday night through pizza back at Stevie's, and on the airplane back home on Monday and on the triumphant drive up Route 107 through Lynn into God's Country, a.k.a. Salem.

I hope I always remember the game that I took in last weekend. The drama. The crowd. The heat. The performance by Tom Brady. But I know I'll never forget the non-stop 72-hour laugh track that the weekend turned into. If you haven't done one of these road trips, do yourself a favor and cross it off your list soon. It will be money well spent.

Indeed, these are my friends. Can't trade 'em in. No one would want 'em. Come to think of it, though---and don't tell those nitwits---I wouldn't trade them for the world.

P.S. If you are still reading this mindless diary, you can take a look at the pictures that we've posted here.