I awoke to the sight of my uncle looming over the piles of cushions and blankets looking slightly amused. "Do you guys want to go to IHOP for breakfast?". To this day pancakes are some of the best medicine for my hangovers and it was no different then.
Sunday morning was sunny and brisk. The leafless trees made things a bit brighter than a few weeks earlier, thus exacerbating the pounding in my head. We were seated right away and discussed the Patriots chances that day. The coffee was horrible, but helped to bring us back to some sense of normalcy. We all agreed that the Patriots high powered offense gave them a shot at a win. We dropped my Uncle off in front of his house and purposely stayed in the car as to avoid answering my aunt's prying questions.
We headed south on Route 1 toward Foxboro. As we approached the stadium traffic came to a crawl. The smell of charcoal and cooking meat was almost as intoxicating as the perfume and booze from the night before. As we were being parked we saw our first fight. Two punks punching an older guy while the older guy's old friend was trying to pull the punks away. The older guy had a bloody nose. There were no police or security in sight so the fight played out to its gruesome end. Punks 7, Old Guys 0.
We skipped the tailgating, having done enough partying the night before and headed right into the stadium. We went down to the end zone to watch warm ups. The receivers and tight ends were doing passing drills directly in front of us. I was in awe of the size and speed of these men up close. Andy Hasslebeck, a Patriots tight end caught a warm up toss and ran up to the stands were I was standing. He looked me directly in the eye and said "Hi". I was at least a foot higher than him in the stands, but we were eye to eye. I mentally crossed off "NFL Player" on my list of dream jobs.
We settled into our seats and watched a great game. The first play of the game was a flea-flicker. Grogan handed off to Tatupu who tossed the ball back to Grogan who hit a streaking Stanley Morgan for a 76 yard touchdown. At half time I called Terri from a pay phone to let her know we made it safe and sound. She invited us to stop by after the game. Easton is the next town over from Foxboro, so I said we would. The game ended in regulation tied at 27. Despite the heroics of Tony Collins, Steve Grogan and John Smith, this game was a microcosm of their 2-14 season and although they were close, the Patsies gave up a field goal in OT. We fought through the sea of drunk men to the Corona and headed to Easton.
Terri invited us in and we met her mom and dad. Her dad was a hulking Italian man who looked like he could have played for the Patriots. We went to her room where we giggled about the previous night. I wanted to get on the road before dark, so we gave each other some hugs and decided to get together again soon. The ride home was uneventful. We drove non stop hoping not to tempt fate one more time. I dropped Jeff off at his door and he thanked me for "the best night of his life". He wrote Charlene back and forth for a year, but never saw her again.
It was a wicked good time. I was more than thankful that I could report to my mother that her car was in one piece and that I managed to stay out of jail. Upon returning home I kissed my mother and went straight to bed. I lay there staring at the ceiling, basking in the glow of a successful first road trip. I didn't get the girl, but then again I didn't get arrested. I thought about the next road trip and where it would take me. The horse was out of the barn.