The afternoon was sultry ...
Judy was enjoying her summer. Spending these warm summer afternoon's doing what kids her age do best ... kill time.
But today is a special day ... it's her 12th birthday and Daddy was coming home with a surprise for her.
From 2 o'clock in the afternoon on ... Judy was glued to her front window awaiting the first glimpse of her Daddy as he comes home from work.
It's 4 o'clock and there he comes ... it's Daddy! He comes up the steps and enters the house.
Dad: (Coughing) " How's my birthday girl? "
Judy: " You're home! What's the surprise?"
Dad: (Coughing) " We're doing something really special ... we're going to a Ticats game!"
Judy: " The Ticats! Yippee! Oskee Wee Wee!"
Dad: ( Coughing less now) " Go get your gear ... we leave now."
With all the excitement a 12 year old could muster ... Judy ran up the stairs to get her football gear. She grabbed her Tiger Cats Jersey with the number one on it ... she grabbed her little TC doll and her trusty seat cushion.
She jumped into the car with Daddy and they were off.
Oblivious to what was going on at first ... she noticed something odd. They drove right past where Ivor Wynne stood and kept going.
Judy: "Daddy! You missed it."
Dad: (Not coughing anymore) " The games not here ... it's in Toronto."
Judy: " Toronto?! You're taking me to Toronto?"
Dad: " Yes ... I think you are old enough to learn about Toronto and see a game in the home of the dreaded
Judy: " You're special daddy ... what a great birthday."
Judy's dad parked the car and they got onto busses run by the Cats Claws ... the fan club of the Tiger Cats. The busses then proceeded to drive to Toronto.
They kept driving up the QEW (A 3 lane major highway connecting the Golden Horseshoe Region of Ontario) past the Ford Auto Plant in Oakville and into Mississauga. Judy though started to feel odd.
Judy: (Starting to cough) " Daddy? Why am I coughing?"
Dad: " Well dear ... for the first time in your young life you are leaving the effects of the air we breathe in
Hamilton. You are breathing the air the rest of the world enjoys."
Judy: ( Coughing more) " This is terrible!"
Dad: " Rest easy sweetie. By the time you get past Mississauga you lungs should get used to the new
air. It'll be fine ... trust me."
Judy: (Coughing) " What are those puffs of black air coming out of my mouth?"
Dad: " That's just the carbon buildup being released. It's all normal."
Judy: (Coughing real bad) " Is that why you cough when you get home?"
Dad: " Yes .. we all cough when we go to work in Toronto and we all cough when we come home. Everyone
in Hamilton that works has to go through that."
Judy: (Coughing) " Not the guys in the steel mills eh dad?"
Dad: " I guess your now old enough to know. Those mills are all empty. Nobody ever worked there. There
are no jobs in Hamilton ... we all work in Toronto."
Judy: (Starting to cough less) " Darn. Growing old is not that much fun. If we all work in Toronto ... then
why not live there?"
Dad: " That's information I'll tell you when you turn 16. Let's just say it has to do with what kind of jobs we
can get based on something called IQ .. and that Hamilton is where we can only afford to live."
Judy: (Stopped coughing) " But at least we got the Ticats!"
Dad: " That's right sweetie .. we have the Cats."
Judy had stopped coughing ... that could only mean that they had driven through Mississauga and her lungs had cleared.
Judy: " Daddy? Why weren't you coughing on the drive here?"
Dad: " I wasn't home long enough to fill up on carbon."
Judy: "OK Daddy."
Dad: " Look over there sweetie."
Judy looks over to where her Dad pointed and she was in awe. A sight that dominated the landscape. She could not take her eyes off the size of the place and the beautiful white covering that capped off the structure.
Judy: " What's that place dad? It's the most beautiful thing I ever saw."
Dad: " That's the Skydome. It's the home of the Argos and the most wonderful place in the world."
Judy: " It's a palace."
Dad: " That it is. We taxpayers in Hamilton thank the Heavens every day that our taxes went into building
such a lovely place."
Judy: " Wow ... whatever taxes they took it wasn't enough."
Dad: " I agree. It's a symbol that stirs the soul."
Judy: " I love you daddy!"
Dad: " I love you too ... the dome is all about love."
They drove along and the bus found a great parking spot. They still had time to catch the tailgate party put on by the Argos at Roundhouse Park.
Judy: " Daddy! It's Kim Mitchell!"
Dad: " Yes sweetie .. he's great."
Judy: " The Argos really go first class all the way. This is awesome."
Dad: " Yes ... you can really see why the Argos win more Grey Cups than we do. Some would say they really
deserve them more anyways."
Judy: " Dad!! That's wrong! The Cats are the best."
Dad: " Sorry honey ... just kidding."
Judy: (laughing) " You better be!"
The tailgate ends and they make their way to the Dome. Once inside they file into the seats the Cats Claws arranged for them to sit in.
Judy: " This place is amazing. It was awesome on the outside but just to much inside."
Dad: " Yes ... it is the greatest place on earth to be right now."
Judy: " Wow. But I have a question dad."
Dad: " Shoot."
Judy: " Why are we sitting way up here in the corner?"
Dad: " Well ... our clothes still smell of Hamilton so they hide us away from all the really nice people
everywhere else. It's for our ... and everyone's own good."
Judy: " OK ..."
Dad: " But we get a great view of the Jumbotron and we see our team as they come out onto the field. And
the seats are nice and soft."
Judy: " You're right daddy ... good enough for us. Look ... the player introductions!"
The PA announcer introduces the Tiger Cats Offensive lineup.
Judy: " Daddy? Why are the Cats wearing white?
Dad: " All the soot falls off their Jersey's when they leave Hamilton so they look white."
Judy: " But they look like pansies?"
Dad: " You think they look like pansies now? Watch this ..."
Just then the music cranks up and the Argos are introduced.
Judy: " Wow ... they are heavenly!"
Dad: " That they are ... but we are still Cats fans."
Judy: " Ya ... um right. But boy ... those are Real Men."
Dad: " I know."
The game begins and it is tough defensive struggle right from the start. The Argos start to move the ball in the 2nd quarter and take a 14 - 6 lead into half time.
Judy: " That 1st half was awesome. Great cheers and the players were amazing. The Argos were really
pressuring Danny Mac all half."
Dad: " Let's go for a walk."
They walk out along the 200 level of Skydome and see all the concessions.
Judy: " Can I get a T-shirt?"
Dad: " They don't sell Cats stuff here."
Judy: " No dad ... an Argo one."
Dad: " "Why?"
Judy: " I'm not sure ... I just feel as if I need one."
Dad: " Maybe next time ... give it time."
Judy: " OK dad."
They go back to their seats for the 2nd half.
The half starts just as the last one ended ... with the Argos in control. The Argos defensive front seven are hitting Danny Mac after each pass attempt and the Cats cannot move the ball against the Mighty Argos of Swash Defense.
Judy: " Dad? It's hard not to love the Argos isn't it?"
Dad: " It's hard dear ... but we all try."
Judy: " OK dad."
With 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter the Argos get to Danny Mac. Mike O'Shea and Brad Elberg both meet at Danny Mac at the same time and squish him. Danny Mac lies prone on the field.
The Ticat throng in attendance jeer loudly as O'Shea's name is reported.
Judy: " Why so bad for O'Shea? Why do we hate him so much?"
Dad: " Everyone from Hamilton hates him because he DID what we all wish we could do. He left Hamilton.
You have to hate someone more fortunate than yourself."
Judy: " I get it. He's a putz."
Dad: " Right."
The 3rd quarter ends with the Argos ahead by the score of 14 - 8. The Argo offense started to stall and the Cats managed two singles on missed 21 and 23 yard FG's by Ozzie.
Judy: " I'm having fun dad. This is the best birthday ever."
Dad: " I'm happy for you dear. This game here is a big step but I knew you could handle it."
The 4th quarter resumes with the Hamilton backup Cody Ledbetter at the helm. The game remains a tight defensive struggle with both teams unable to move the ball. Then ... with one minute left in the game ... the Argos fumble a punt return and the Cats take the ball in for the major score. The Cats convert and take a 15-14 lead. The clock runs down and the game ends with the Cats stealing a victory.
The Skydome erupts in a deafening chorus of boos. The fans have forsaken their heroes and they are letting them know about it.
Judy: " Dad? Don't they know how lucky they are to have the Argos to cheer for? We Cats fans can only get
delirious over a lucky win over the Argos every now and then. They actually win Grey Cups!"
Dad: " Sometimes when you're in Heaven all the time .. you forget where you are."
Judy: " Pity ... I would be more grateful if I were them."
Dad: " Well said. Let's go home."
Judy: " OK."
The Cats Claws bus rolls out onto the QEW for the ride home. The fans on the bus are singing in delight overthe big win over the hated Argos.
Judy: " Dad?"
Dad: " Yes?"
Judy: " I thought I'd be happier at the Cats win. What's wrong?"
Dad: " It's because you are still so very young. You still have hope for the future while all of these fans
can only look forward in life to a rare win over the Argos."
Judy: " So it's really OK to feel like I should be an Argo fan?"
Dad: " Oh yes dear! Everyone in this tough world we live in that has any hope ... is an Argo fan. Those
that have lost hope hide their true feelings and cheer for the Ticats."
Judy: " So there is no true Ticat fan then?"
Dad: " No. Every so-called Cats fan is really in love with the Argos. They are the team and city that we all
aspire to and when we fail ... we settle for the Cats."
Judy: " I think I'll be a bigger fan of the Argos than the Cats."
Dad: " That is natural sweetie. Whenever we see beautiful blue skies or deep blue oceans ... we think of the
wonders of the Argos. Whenever we see the depths of a cold dark night ... we think of the Cats."
Judy: " But I'll still pull for the Cats since they are my home ... if not most loved ...team."
Dad: " That's great honey. Cheer for the Cats out of pity like all the rest of us and quietly dream the Argo
dream. Then when they win more Grey Cups ... we all can feel a little place in our hearts tug."
Judy: " I understand and I'll always be grateful."
Dad: " You grow up so fast."
The bus stops and they go back to their car.
Dad: ( Coughing) " Want to go to McDonald's for a treat? They have a drive-thru."
Judy: (Coughing) " Sure dad."
They drive over to a McDonald's and wait in line at the late-night drive-thru. They are the second car in line.
Dad: " What did you like best about the game?"
Judy: " I liked the way the Argo defense kept killing Danny Mac."
Dad: " They were awesome ... and that hit that knocked him out?"
Judy: " Oh yes daddy! That hit ground Danny Mac into a pile of hamburger!"
They pulled up to the drive-thru window ...
Window: " Can I take your order please?"
Dad: " I'll have a coffee. What do you want with your coke Judy?"
Judy: (Laughing) " I'll have a Danny Mac and some Fries!"
Judy and her Dad laugh it up.
The perfect end to the perfect birthday.