On Sunday afternoons for years, Tom has made a point of being available to watch the Vikings games. However, it was always painful for whoever watched with him. It seemed like the Vikings were always so—well, so disappointing to him. Even when they won, he’d seem disappointed by the way they won.
On Sunday, it finally hit me. The reason for all the Viking negativity over the years is that in reality, I am married to a closet Green Bay Packers fan. Stupid me—I had just been ignoring all the signs for the past 36 years.
Sign No. 1: He grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, watching the Green Bay Packers throughout his formative years. His idols were Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr, who led the Packers to two Superbowl wins in 1967 and 1968. Everybody in Fargo, North Dakota, was a Green Bay fan during the ‘60s. Everybody.
Sign No. 2: Even after Tom moved to Minnesota in 1972, he still had trouble getting fired up about the Vikings. In retrospect, Tom was just going through the motions of being a Vikings fan, mostly because we only had three television stations and the Vikings were all that were on. Sometimes he didn’t even bother to go through the motions.
Sign No. 3: In the summer of 2001, Tom and I drove from Alexandria, Minnesota, to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. It should have been a pretty straight-forward trip. But no—we had to drive approximately 8 million miles out of our way so that Tom could have his picture taken in front of Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
He even talked his way past some maintenance guy so he could get his picture taken inside the empty stadium. An empty football stadium. 8 million miles out of our way.
Sign No. 4: From 1992 until 2007, when Bret Favre was the Green Bay quarterback, Tom always spoke about Favre in reverent terms. He stopped short of genuflecting when he mentioned Favre’s name, but he had a special hushed voice reserved only for Favre. He never used that tone when he talked about Fran Tarkenton (that no-good *!#) or Tommy Kramer (that worthless *^$#@) or Randall Cunningham or Daunte Culpepper or Tavaris Jackson (a series of $#@&! quarterbacks). Oh, no. That voice was saved for his very special friend, Bret Favre.
Sign No. 5: On Monday night football a couple of weeks ago, when the Vikings played the Packers, Tom seemed oddly subdued when Favre and the Vikings won. It must be how Selena and Venus Williams’ family feels when they play tennis against each other. Who do you cheer for? Favre vs. Green Bay—an emotionally wrenching event for Tom, I see now.
And finally, Sign No. 6: On Sunday night, there were a couple of minutes left in the Vikings-Packer game and dinner was ready. Everything was out of the oven and the table was set. Usually, it’s me in the kitchen calling to please come and eat, but yesterday, I was sitting on the edge of a chair in front of the TV, hoping the Vikings wouldn’t blow it in the last five minutes like they did the week before. Tom, on the other hand, was in the kitchen quietly dishing up squash and salmon. “The Packers will come out on top,” he called to me in the other room when I failed to show up for dinner.
“Typical negative Vikings fan,” I thought to myself.
And then the lightbulb went on in my head. “No, he’s not a negative Vikings fan. He’s a gosh-darn closet Green Bay Packers fan.”
Don’t ever say you can’t learn something new about the guy you’ve been living with for 36 years. Some of it’s pretty and some of it’s not. And in this case, I believe the cheesehead has finally come out of the closet.