It’s the first thing I think of when my head hits the pillow at night. The first thing on my mind when the alarm goes off in the morning.
It is football season.
And best of all, the Kansas City Chiefs season opener is also the home opener.
Just a little over a week away.
I’ll be grilling on the parking lot of course.
And almost as fun as the actual tailgating for me is planning and packing for a day at the greatest NFL stadium in the world.
I have two bad ass coolers.
One is a Yeti, the other is an Igloo Yukon.
The both are awesome, the Yeti is a little smaller so I’ll be taking that for the opener. I am going with a small group.
I’ll put my adult beverages (they must be in glass bottles) and soft drinks and water in the very bottom, and the morning of the game I will dump ice so cold that I’ll have to hit the bags with something to make it more manageable. When I do, I will feel the frigid , humid coolness that only real ice delivers and the wet coolness of the bags on my hands.
I’ll pour it on top of the drinks, then I’ll pour rock salt all over the very top. I’ll seal it and throw it in the back of the Jeep.
When I get to the stadium the salt will have melted the ice just enough to make those glass bottles and the liquid inside so cold that I’ll gasp when I open my mouth wide and pour it in.
After I take a drink or two I’ll hold the frigid, dripping glass bottle up against my cheek and forehead and gaze at Arrowhead and marvel at life.
So many things have changed since my first trip to Arrowhead as a little boy.
But thankfully so many wonderful things remain the same.
Aaaaah the ice cold drinks,
They are just a part of it though.
I’ve been planning the main course too.
For the season opener we will be having steaks.
When I embrace a hobby, your Arrowhead Adventurer tends to overdue it, and grilling is no exception.
Many argue details before, during and after the game when it comes to the cooking part.
Charcoal, gas, or the latest addition infrared. I have all options covered.
For burgers I still don’t think charcoal can be beat.
But in my opinion infrared is the thing for steaks.
I will have spent a couple of days preparing the steaks for opening day.
I’ll have discussed options with the nearly century old butcher behind the nearly century old meat counter, just as Kansas City Chiefs fans have been doing for so many years.
As I am waiting for him to bring my majestically marbled cuts, my mind for just a fleeting second sees a much younger butcher cutting a steak for a much younger Arrowhead Adventurer.
Eager to see new, exciting new running backs like Joe Delaney, Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson, and Jamaal Charles to name just a few.
I have a little tiny infrared grill that I’ll put on the parking lot. It’s just big enough for two thick Kansas City strips.
I’ll have to squat kind of like a catcher to watch my creations.
I spent quite a bit of time getting these wonderful cuts ready.
I rubbed some salt on both sides the day before. Some pepper too. They were so red and white and beautiful when I put them in the little storage container made just for storing steaks.
Of course my mind wandered to Arrowhead days past as I put them on their little shelf and closed the door of the refrigerator. I opened it back up once more and took them back out and looked at them once more before I went to bed.
“I will see you guys tomorrow” my daydreaming mind told them.
They nodded and went to bed just like me.
Aaaaah back to the grilling.
I’ll kind of sit like a catcher in front of my little grill and toss those steaks on the searing infrared surface.
It will make a wonderful sound, and smell like heaven.
For only a minute I’ll wait then turn then over and wait for a minute then I’ll turn down the heat and close the lid.
“That seals in the juices” I’ll tell whoever might be watching.
It could be my fiancee, or my best friend, or nobody or the runny nosed kid who smelled it and came over from the van a couple of stalls down.
Which reminds me, (veteran tailgaters know this) but I’ll let those heading for stadium for the first time know this.
Wherever else on earth you might be, when a stranger comes up to you and invades your space it feels kind of awkward and weird. Kind of scary even.
Everywhere else on earth but Arrowhead.
When that stranger comes over the conversation may flow freely, it may be sporadic, or it may not even exist at all.
But their presence will be as comfortable as a pear of old pajama pants.
Everyone is your friend at Arrowhead stadium.
So anyway I will let those steaks cook slowly, steadily , evenly, and the infrared surface will keep them juicy.
I’ll take mine off before I take my girls off, I like mine medium rare, so that when I cut it I’ll see just a little pink, and when I put that little piece of steak in my mouth it will kind of squish and the juice will flow throughout my mouth and I will smile and chew and shake my head.
And my friends will smile and chew and shake their heads and a millions things will be said in those gestures without a single word being uttered.
And the firecrackers will go off signaling that it is only an hour before kickoff, and we do not like to miss the national anthem so we will clean everything up, and pack everything and wordlessly head arm in arm toward the stadium.
And the magic of Arrowhead will have started and a new season will have begun where all teams are tied and all teams can go to the Superbowl and I get older but the cheerleaders never do except for my favorite cheerleader Jena who gets older but is always just as pretty as ever.
But not as pretty as my fiancee, and I will tell her that and we will both smile.