A modern-day Rip Van Winkle, plus football


Does everybody remember the tale of Rip Van Winkle? Written by Washington Irving in one night in 1818 while he stayed with his sister in Birmingham, England, the story was published in America as part of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent, and was an immediate success. Rip Van Winkle was a cheerful but lazy farmer who was plagued with a nagging wife. One day he met up with some curious people, and they, well, drank our Rip under the table. When he woke up, his gun was rusted, his beard was long and gray, and when he returned home, his friends and—somewhat to his relief—his wife had died. However, there’s a happy ending: he made friends with the young folks and lived a long life spinning yarns for travelers.

We are in the midst of football playoff madness, and I’ve just returned from a visit to Wisconsin, where Packer fans are like no fans on earth. And everybody is a Packer fan. While I was there, I talked to someone whose son had just received word from Packer management that his number had come up for the privilege of buying season Packer tickets. I suppose this happens for all teams, right? You call and say you want tickets. If any are available, you fork over your card. If the tickets are sold out that year, you get a number, and when it comes up, you buy or not, depending. This Wisconsin man had taken a number for Packer tickets on the day his last child was born, thinking that he’d be able to go to games with his three kids. How old is this youngest child now? Twenty-two. That’s right—in Wisconsin, you’ll wait 22 years to buy Packer tickets.

Now I know he didn’t just sit around by the phone, waiting like a jilted suitor for Packer management to call, so the Rip Van Winkle analogy isn’t perfect. But holy cow, people. That’s a long time to wait for Packer tickets. On the other hand, now he can spend some quality time with his adult kids. So, like Rip, the result was probably worth the wait.

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