I don't wake up very well. Ever see movies of bears after they come out of hibernation and they walk gingerly and bump into stuff and growl a bit? That's me. Saturday morning, I was awakened by the sound of a marching band. Which usually means some interminable parade for some stupid cause. Which usually means I'm there, as Saturday Morning cartoons have gone to hell. Turns out there wasn't really a parade. There was the Public Library's Wordplay Saturday, the Susan Komen Race For The Cure, and a sort of Fire and Rescue Festival across from the new Fire Museum on Fifth Street. I stumbled down into the local coffeeshop next door to my apartment for a hot styro-cino (a big cup of flavored coffee in a decidedly unflavored styrofoam cup), and lumbered down the street trailing behind me smoke and Bavarian Strudel. As I walked down Tryon, I met the eyes of many Komen racers, who looked at me in my jeans and dirty T-shirt with a mix of bewilderment and disdain. (Or at least I think they did -- my eyes were barely half-lidded.) Hey, I'm all for exercise, especially if it's for a good cause. I'm just not real big on doing it (or anything) at eight in the morning. The winner of 5K, I'm told, did it in about 17 minutes. Which, by my watch, is how long it took me to walk and see the damn thing. I was, of course, slowed down by the coffee.
One thing I learned about the Panthers on Sunday: if you're gonna sit in the good seats, bring sun block. Yes, if you're going to go watch a mediocre football team with no offense play another mediocre football team with no offense, you damn well need some SPF protection. Somehow, the football gods smiled upon me Sunday. I started Priest Holmes on my fantasy football team, and was offered a free 50-yard-line ticket, eight rows from the field. I expected, as I entered the stadium's bottom level, that I would be feted with stuffed grape leaves and fanned by beautiful women, but it wasn't to be. Rather, it wasn't very different at all from my usual seats, other than the fact that the lower-level people had jerseys of people still on the team, as opposed to all the Biakabutuka and William Floyd and Rae Carruth jerseys in the cheap seats. Cussing was pretty much constant, except that you could only hear the players doing it, as opposed to the fans around you. Every now and then, a Cardinals player would bark something to a jeering fan, not understanding in Charlotte, that guy with the lower-level PSL probably makes more than you, Mr. Backup Linebacker. Strangely, and despite my best wishes, the people in the section I broiled in were uniformly nice, even asking you if you wanted a beer when they went to get one. I'm not sure how knowledgeable they were, but they were fired up just as much as the guy sitting in the top of section 225 ducking Douglas International's incoming flights. More, perhaps. Which shouldn't have surprised me. The way I see it, if you pay $10,000+ just for seating rights, you want to see some return on your investment.