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My Brother, We are Pilgrims in an Unholy Land

Almost 10 years ago to the date, my father came to me and asked me a question that most 13 year olds will never have to answer:

“Would you rather go to the Super Bowl with your brothers and me or would you rather go shopping with your mother in Washington D.C.?” Being a 13-year-old girl who was more interested in make-up and pre-pubescent boys than in overgrown boys tackling each other on a field, I laughed in his face and opted for the shopping spree with my mother.

That year was also the same year I wore an Eddie George jersey… simply because I liked the color of it (something that, regrettably, my brothers have never let me forget). Looking back now, if I could, I would time-warp back to 2001 and smack that kid in the face. Not only do I love football now (and am a die-hard Ravens fan to boot!), but I even understand the game! No small feat for the women in my family.

So when my brother asked me last week if I wanted to see the Ravens kick some Steelers ass at Heinz field in Pittsburgh, I asked him, “Does a bear sh*t in the woods?”  Going to school in Pennsylvania is hard – with half of my friends Eagles fans and the other half Steelers fans, I spend most of my time trying to decipher who the lesser of the two evils is. I usually say Eagles fans aren’t as bad as Steelers, until they start drinking.

Thus my brother made the journey up from Washington D.C. (he certainly wasn’t going to see the Redskins in a super bowl anytime soon) to State College late Friday night. On Saturday, even before we had our morning caffeine fix at W.C. Clarke’s Coffee, the smack talk began.

“You know you’re in Steelers country, right?” My brother and I turned to the speaker in our purple jerseys and rolled our eyes. Not the best, so we won’t even grant that comment a point.

As we were paying, one of the men standing behind the counter leaned over and lowered his voice.

“Hey, I give you props for wearing a Ray Lewis Jersey in State College. Now is that number on the jersey the number of his prison suit or…” said the man, his voice trailing off as he smiled wickedly back at us.

Touche, sir.

Steelers – 1, Ravens – 0.

We made it to the stadium around noon, opting to park in the local casino’s parking lot. Luckily, we parked right next to two Ravens fans who invited us to join them at their tailgate. On the 15-minute walk there, one Steelers fan reached out to give Joseph, our new friend, a high-five. Joseph raised his hand in the air but faked at the last minute, causing the Steelers fan to lose his balance and almost fall.

Steelers – 1, Ravens – 1.

“Nice, asshole!” called the Steelers fan as we started to walk away.

Joseph turned around and smiled smugly.

“Got a beer?” asked Joseph.

“I got my dick!” screamed the Steelers fan, grabbing his package like Michael Jackson, circa 1989.

Classy.

Regardless, Steelers – 2, Ravens – 1.

Leaving the Steelers fans behind us as we turned and continued on, my brother looked at me with a smile.

“To paraphrase the great Dr. Henry Jones, ‘My sister, we are pilgrims in an unholy land.’”

After a few hours of tailgating, my brother and I decided to make our way toward the stadium. Along the way, we stopped at a McDonald’s to use the bathrooms. While I waited outside for my brother to finish, I watched as two girls approached the door, both of them holding a Miller Lite can in each hand, straws swiveling around the top.

“Can we bring beer in here?” asked one girl, wagging her tongue as she tried to catch the straw to take a sip.

“Of course. I do all the time,” the other replied.

Only in Pittsburgh, eh? I think Baltimore deserves a point just for that.

Steelers – 2, Ravens – 2.

Josh returned a few seconds later, just as a large group of Ravens walked by us. Fearing to walk by ourselves, we quickly joined their group.

“Hey Ravens! I’ll show you a bird!” called a woman driving by in her car.

We turned in time to see a middle finger flash us through the crack at the top of the window before speeding away.

Steelers – 3, Ravens – 2

At our seats (first row, 40 yard line, by the way), we were surrounded by a sea of Terrible Towels, all ready and willing to whirl through the air should the Steelers score a touchdown–not that it happened much in the first half, mind you. I myself brought my purple “terrible towel” and whipped it through the air each time we scored a first down, a touch down, or when Suggs sacked Roethlisberger.

As it turned out, some of the Steelers fans weren’t too happy about my purple towel, and one crazy drunk girl kept ripping it from my hands. A grandma Ravens fan did manage to rescue it for me a few times, but drunk girl kept drinking more and more, until she was falling on everyone around us and cursing out both Steelers and Ravens fans. Finally, her husband, fed up with her Courtney Love-esque ways, turned to her and screamed.

“I did not spend one-fucking-thousand dollars to leave at half-time. Pull your shit together!”

They did end up leaving at half time though, and the entire section cheered.

Like always though, the Ravens never know how to finish a game, and we gave up our 14-point lead in the third quarter.

As Michael Oher (the football player The Blind Side was based on) came off the field   after a particularly poor play, a Steelers fan seated near us started to scream.

“Hey Oher! Ohhhhh—eerrrr!” He taunted.

“Your movie sucked. It was soooo bad. It just totally sucked. You suck. And your movie sucked.”

Ah, eloquence at its finest. The Steelers fan repeated this same line over and over again for a good minute before I finally turned around.

“Hey asshole! Shut your vagina!” I screamed across the seats.

He turned to look as a cheer went up around us, fellow Ravens fans hitting me high fives.

Steelers – 3, Ravens – 3.

We were fortunate enough to have a few nice Steelers fans around us though. One even offered to get us some food during half time.

“Do you guys want anything?” one asked my brother and me. We looked up at him with questioning eyes.

“Rat poison? An apple with a razor in it?” He asked jokingly with a smile.

My brother and I laughed and waved them away.

During the fourth quarter, the Oher-taunter started up again.

“Your movie sucked! You suck!”

I tried counting to 10. I tried praying to the Lord. But after it was clear the Ravens were not going to win the game, I had had enough.

“Hey fat ass!” I jeered, spinning around to face him.

“At least Oher has a movie! What have you ever done for a living? Pump gas?”

Another cheer erupted from the Ravens crowd, with several Steelers fans laughing and clapping me on the back.

Though the result on the scoreboard didn’t go my way, my interactions with the fans clad in black and gold read like this: Steelers – 3, Ravens – 4.

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About the Author

Becky Perlow

Becky is a feature writer for Onward State. Currently on her victory lap (read: fifth-year senior), she studies both journalism and hotel/restaurant management at Penn State. She hails from Charm City, Maryland, and as a rabid Ravens fan, she isn't afraid to insult the Steelers QB ("No means no!"). She also loves to travel -- she's been to 26 countries and counting!

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