I swear it was a good idea at the time, but looking back, I regret everything. It was a warm August night when the deed was done. Some drinks were had; conversation flowed with ease among friends. More drinks followed and what then followed those drinks (besides more drinks) was arguably the greatest plan that has ever been hatched in Sheffield’s beer garden. Or so we thought.
Times were different in the windy city just a few months ago as we sat outside in that beer garden. The Chicago Cubs were on course to win the NL Central and receive home field advantage throughout the rest of the playoffs (that did not end well). As for the Chicago Bulls, training camp had not even started yet, but the hype surrounding 2nd year superstar Lauri Markkanen was already building (he is has yet to suit up for a game this season due to injury). Joel Quenneville was still the coach of the Chicago Blackhawks (fire a guy who wins three Stanley Cups in 8 years. Real smart) and the messiah himself was still a member of the Oakland Raiders (Khalil Mack could punch me in the face right now and still, the first thing I would be inclined to do is give him a hug. This is assuming I survive one single punch from Mack, which is 50/50 at best).
On top of all of that, the weather was quite nice on that particular day in August, as it was 85 degrees out, even without help from the sun (which by the way, had just set an hour ago while today, the sun set after I finished my lunch. Daylight savings is a bitch). When it is warm and you are drunk, things happen; sometimes good and sometimes bad. On this particular night, we made a very costly error, one that is going to finally catch up with us this Sunday. What we did that night was underestimate how terrible winter was in Chicago. We failed to really think through how soul crushing the wind off Lake Michigan can be as it whips into your face at hurricane level speeds. We forgot the sinking feeling you get in your stomach when you wake up in the dark, look at your phone, and see single digits (or negatives. When you see negatives though, you email work that you have developed smallpox, smash your phone, and hibernate until spring). We overlooked the only thing that Chicago doesn’t really have going for it and by doing so, we ended up purchasing Chicago Bears tickets for a game against the Detroit Lions in the middle of November.
Now Sunday’s forecast does not read like a thermometer in Siberia, but it isn’t pretty; high of 41, with a low of 29. Real feel numbers are coming in at 22 degrees Fahrenheit and I just experienced Constanza-level shrinkage simply from typing that sentence. We will wear layers and we will drink ourselves some liquor jackets, but nothing can quite prepare you for three hours at Soldier Field. The stadium does not protect you from the elements, but instead, enhances their worst qualities.
To make matters worst, this weekend is really our first “cold” weekend of the season. Come talk to me in January and I am pretty over the cold. At that point, my body has conditioned itself to survive the next ice age, as three months of bone-chilling weather has come and gone. After a while, you just kind of get accustomed to the suffering. Right now though, I am not in winter shape mentally. Surviving winter in Chicago is not like riding a bike; you forget how to deal with it. Fall is supposed to ease you in and slowly, but surely, you begin to decrease the amount of time you stay outside and maximize the amount of layers you wear. At this point, I haven’t seen snow yet or used a shovel; my eyes have seen no snow plows or icicles forming on rooftops. I haven’t even had to wear more than two layers when leaving my home. It isn’t winter yet.
So, when I head down to Soldier Field to watch the Lions play for three hours this Sunday, I am skipping all of the pre-winter conditioning I usually run myself through and going straight to the race. Basically, it is the equivalent of showing up to the Chicago Marathon without a day of training under your belt and just as you wouldn’t finish that marathon with your best time (or in my case, finish within 24 hours), the Bears game will probably not end well for us.
When we bought the tickets back in August, we gambled that the weather would still be manageable by the middle of November. Although wrong, it is hard to be too upset about it, as we won the lottery between that night in August today. I would do the polar plunge every morning in order to bring Mack to Chicago. He makes sitting in the cold on Sunday worth it and his dominance, along with an up and coming Bears team, made the decision to keep the tickets we bought instead of selling them an easy one. Bear down.