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Fate placed me in Charlotte on Sunday, unfortunately under circumstances which had nothing to do with the Bears.
Oh, there were "bears" involved, but most were not the kind with a capital "B."
In any case, I've found that the road puts you in a weird headspace.
You ask yourself questions; quandaries that normally don't bubble to the surface within the confines of a normal routine.
Like, how many times can I turn the ball over in the last 500 seconds of a football game before it becomes statically impossible to win?
Or, when you're presented a "very special offer" on a plane, why is It always a credit card? Why can't it be muffins?
Or, is beating off to Facebook pictures of ex-girlfriends illegal if it's in a hotel room or is the Best Western the international waters of morality?
And in an unrelated follow up question, are penalties for e-voyeurism harsher if the Facebook drone you have commandeered is piloted across state lines?
And also, Stephanie if you're reading this, both I and your bathroom drywall appreciate you opening the vent in the glass block exterior when you shower. Humidity is death on ceilings. Now if you would, can you please move the 128-ounce bottle of Mane 'n Tail on your window sill six inches closer to the shower head? Thanks!
Yup, the mind is a mystery.
But enough with hypothetical deeds.
The following things are factual excerpts from my trip. I find them all more interesting without context.
1. I watched highlights of the game and later the Bengals-Patriots tilt at Sidelines, Charlotte's premier destination for anyone looking to hang with lots of cool dudes. Dudes who love rugby, dudes who love tennis, dudes who are really into amateur filmmaking and dudes who will stop at nothing to participate in Star Wars cosplay.
Most importantly, dudes who love football and bartenders who fill up a rocks glass halfway when you order Johnny Walker Black.
2. I spent much of the following day dressed in business attire next to a dumpster behind a doll store while '90s slow jams were piped into the loading dock at 80 decibels*.
3. In an attempt to show me some "really great shit," a person I was traveling with fired up his laptop and cranked its bone-stock speakers to the max.
He expected this would drown out the music playing over the airport bar's PA. I was not appropriately dazzled by the lyrics of his favorite Jackson Browne song and, yada, yada, yada, I missed my flight back to Chicago.
4. I was paid for this.
Another Sunday, another hour of yelling things like "SON OF A WHORE" and "YOU GODDAM PIECES OF [FORK]" at the television.
Once again, the Bears offense moved the ball effectively, only to give said ball away at critical junctures.
Lately, the Bears offense has provided all the fun of someone approaching you with a wheelbarrow full of fresh buffalo wings and watching them dump the delicious payload over a cliff, into a tire fire, just as the wings were close enough to smell.
Woo-hoo! I love chicken wings, this day is going so great! I wonder if they have any blue cheese dressing - hey, what the hell are you doing?
SONOFABITCH! I was going to eat those! And I'm still not technically obese! And is that my wheelbarrow?!!
So what are we going to have to do to get these guys up for the second half?
If only there were some kind of incentive we could use to motivate the skill players into additional productivity.
Maybe signs made of neon-pink posterboard that say things like "The End Zone Is That Way" or "Put The Ball In There" in Magic Marker are a step in the right direction.
Somebody needs to come up with something before the weekend, because the Bears have a date with a smack-talking old friend.
Return-er To Sender-er
This Sunday, Chicago collides with the Atlanta Falcons and former Bear Devin Hester.
Those of you born before 2002 will remember Hester as the greatest return man of all-time and the 7,894th greatest wide receiver of all-time.
During a post-game interview earlier this season, Hester made it clear that he didn't feel he was a fit in Marc Trestman's offense and later inferred that he did not enjoy playing with quarterback Jay Cutler.
"I'm going to say it, man. I wasn't happy the last three or four years in Chicago," Hester said. "Things weren't going the way I expected . . . I have a quarterback now who, he loves even the walk-ons."
Hester, nodding enthusiastically, elaborated.
"He loves walk-offs too . . Ewoks...we're taking a Chinese-themed cooking class this month called 'Wok-tober.' He lives in Milwaukee. Walk. Walk. Walk. Walk."
Hester's head continued bobbing for a very long time, to the point where sideline reporter Alex Flanagan became visibly concerned.
As the camera man began to flag down local medical personnel, Flanagan held up a hand to stop him and smoothly moved behind the still-nodding return man with the polished skill of an assassin.
Quick as a cat, she pulled the mask from the imposter's head revealing that it wasn't Hester at all, but rather a rogue Billy Dee Williams bobblehead that had escaped the island of misfit toys and short-circuited.
The real Hester had been interviewing with Deion Sanders for five minutes.
"Shit," muttered Flanagan. "Scooped by Prime Time again."
She lit a cigarette and exhaled forcibly.
Kool Aid (3 of 5 - Rum and Coke)
For those of you have done a tour of the Coca-Cola plant in Atlanta, let me know how it was sometime, when I express interest.
There are still breweries left in the world I haven't visited. I'll leave the non-alcoholic beverages to the kids and the priests.
This is another one of those "if we plan on fooling the public into believing that 9-7 will cut it in the NFC we better get our ass in gear and notch a win" kinda match-ups.
Both teams show flashes of brilliance and yet have ended up in the mushy middle of the pack.
The Bears are going to come into Atlanta looking to make a statement.
That statement is "Hey America, we're a 3-3 football team."
And for one week, I think they're right.
Bears 27, Falcons 20.
* In case you're wondering, no, I'm not a Jehovah's Witness, and no, none of the dead dolls wanted to hear "the good news."
Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.