Hey, I suppose it may seem socially awkward for me to confess that I spent about 11 hours in a bar this past Sunday. No, I don’t have a drinking problem, other than some spillage issues. It was just an opportunity to bond with my son and watch the Super Bowl to boot in the midst of a convergence of the most dedicated, enthusiastic and occasionally rabid Pittsburgh Steeler fans in the world.The bar is not much further than a Ben Roethlisberger bomb from Heinz Field where the Steelers play, and its namesake is one of their legendary players. Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36 is located near the confluence of those famed three rivers in Pittsburgh—the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio—and is annually acknowledged as the best sports restaurant/bar in the city. It has even been ranked as among the best in the country. I might note that it is a wonderful restaurant with great food and the most outgoing and engaging servers I’ve come across of late.Here we go (boom, boom, boom)…. here we go (boom, boom, boom)… here we go (boom, boom, boom)…That song keeps resonating in my head. I must have heard a dozen times Sunday, often singing along and twirling a borrowed Terrible Towel. Jeremy, my son, is the diehard Steeler fan, bleeding black and gold. He grew up loving the Cowboys, as a lot of little kids do, but after he went away to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh some 16 years ago, the Steeler baptismal font claimed him as a convert.So when the Steelers beat the Cardinals in the Super Bowl two years ago, he watched it at Grille 36 and had a great time. Of course, the Steelers won that one, and he reveled in the victory celebration. To secure a seat, he’d had to get there before noon for a game that didn’t start until seven hours later. Since he was by himself, he was afraid to even leave his stool for fear it would be claimed by someone else when he returned. That’s a long time to abstain from the bathroom. Fortunately, a young couple from Canada sat next to him, newlyweds, in fact, and he had someone to keep his seat, allowing him to partake in necessary functions. The fellow’s name was Gino and they maintained contact over the ensuing two years.Steelers, here we go….Pittsburgh is going to win the Super Bowl…This year, he talked me into watching the Steelers vie for their seventh Super Bowl title smack dab in the heart of Steeler Nation. Sounded like a good time to me, but I guess I hadn’t absorbed the import of sitting in a sports bar from approximately 11 a.m. until the 6:29 p.m. kickoff, as well as the three and a half hours of the game itself.He reserved a hotel room in downtown Pittsburgh on Sunday night so we’d have a place to rest our weary bones after the game. We would meet at the Primanti Brothers restaurant at eight on Super Sunday morning. The smart way to do it, considering the demanding Sunday ahead, was to drive a good chunk of the way Saturday and lodge within an hour or two of the city. I opted for a Super 8 near Johnstown. Took my time driving there and checked in before 5 p.m. I had some work to catch up on and that allowed me to do so with no distractions. It also allowed me the luxury of turning in early, because I had to hit the road around six the next morning.XXHere we go (boom, boom, boom)…. here we go (boom, boom, boom)… here we go (boom, boom, boom)…The last leg to Pittsburgh, mostly in the early-morning darkness, was uneventful, and I was far enough ahead of schedule to warrant a couple of extra Sheetz stops along the way to burn off some time. In Pittsburgh it was breakfast, finding a parking garage and then hoping they’d let us into the hotel early. As it turned out, the parking garage was a dozen blocks from the hotel. We learned later there were others much closer. We walked to the hotel sans luggage because it was still pretty early for checking in, but when we got the green light for that, it was 12 blocks back to the cars to get the luggage and a return walk to the hotel. We relaxed barely an hour in the room—about long enough for me to stop sweating—and it was time to walk to Grille 36, which is about double the distance from the hotel as the garage. You spend half a day in a bar, you don’t want to be driving.Steelers, here we go.... Pittsburgh is going to win the Super Bowl…I had a Steeler’s hat and Jeremy loaned me a Steeler’s jersey with Mean Joe’s number (75). After working up another sweat on the long hike across the river, we had claimed a small table and a couple of high stools in the spacious restaurant. There were flat-screen TVs suspended from the ceiling all over the place. There were three screens within my immediate peripheral vision alone. There was a rockin’ sound system, and they were cranking out upbeat rock songs, from AC/DC to Lady Gaga, as well as every Steeler cover song ever made, including the Pittsburgh Steelers Polka, “Knockin’ on 7’s Door,” and “Rocked by the Black and Gold.”It almost made those seven and a half hours to game time pass quickly. By the way, Gino showed up from Toronto, and he brought his father, Gino, Sr., so we had sort of an intergenerational thing going, along with a split tab. The NFL Network showed up and did a segment, and one of the Ginos said he saw me fleetingly on screen.We had a great time. We walked back to the hotel some time after 10 o’clock, watched some of the postgame coverage there and turned in. After all, we both had to rise early for the five-hour drive (over six for him) back home.Did I mention the Steelers lost? You probably knew that. We had a good time anyway. The exercise was a bonus.
Wes Skillings is a Pennsylvania-based copywriter whose recent emergence into this field brings a freshness and vitality that will make the words on your website, newsletter, direct mail marketing or news release reach out and grab the customer base you are seeking.