A 365 day journey of exploration for self-discovery that turned into a way of life.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Day 196 - Attending a Sports Event in Body Paint/Getting on the Big Board
I have never attended a sports event in body paint or made an appearance on the scoreboard Jumbotron as a result of such antics. Although doing so was an idea I had for gaining a new, and obviously unique, experience during my “I have never...” year, attending a professional sport where donning body paint would help me gain the full experience didn’t look likely this year. As a result, I dismissed the experience as one that would probably not occur during my “I have never...” year and built my schedule around more typical, albeit still worthwhile experiences. There was a part of me that wished for the experience, but I figured I had made a fool of myself enough throughout the last six months that passing over another outlandish idea would be just fine as I progressed into the second half of my 365 day journey.
All of that changed this past Wednesday when a friend of mine, Nate, called me out of the blue and asked me if I wanted to attend today’s Packers game versus the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. Having attended many games with Nate in the past, I knew going to the game would be an amazingly fun experience, but my effort to gain a new experience everyday meant I had to wrap a new experience into the day-long event. As a result, I turned back to my idea of attending a sports event in body paint and immediately settled on the idea in my mind. In turn, I responded to Nate’s offer with a simple reply, “I will go to the game with you on one condition... We have to wear body paint.” Catching breath from a fit of laughter, Nate responded without hesitation, “You know I’m always down for something like that!” In little less than a minute, the two of us had committed to one of the most ridiculous things we had done in quite some time... even if it meant we would be standing topless and covered in paint in 20 degree weather for four hours.
With the game just days away, I did some checking around Madison for paint that would be suitable for the forthcoming experience. A failed attempt to make my own paint at home ultimately led me to a local party supply store where I found tubes of bright green, yellow, and white body paint. Realizing I had found the supplies I needed to make my first experience with body paint possible, I loaded up on the supplies and kept them nearby until this morning when today’s “I have never...” experience began.
After the somewhat long drive up to the stadium, Nate and I, accompanied by our friends Paul and Gabby, spent some time tailgating as we waited for game’s schedule start time to draw closer. Doing our best to delay the moment we stripped down to our bare chests and covered ourselves in paint, we interacted with nearby fans, scored a few beers from Gabby, and did our best to stay warm. Then, with roughly an hour before kickoff, the moment came. Acknowledging the time it would take to apply the paint and let it dry, Nate and I took a deep breath and dropped our layers of coats and sweatshirts to get the painting underway.
The cold, dry air of an unseasonable winter day bit at my skin as I bore my chest and set my clothes on the ground. In response, my body sent me into an almost involuntary series of jumps off the balls of my feet. It was cold, but there was no turning back. Convincing myself I had to adjust to my new conditions, I did my best to find a sort of center as I reached for the bottle of green body paint lying on my car hood. With a quick turn of the small plastic cap resting on top of the bottle, I opened the container and promptly squeezed a broad line of paint down my torso. Trembling from the cold around me, I paused for a brief moment before lifting my shaky hand to my body and dragging it across the paint on my chest. The surprisingly large area of coverage and the lasting intensity of the color gave me a chuckle as I looked down at the paint on my body and the reality of the situation sank in. With people around the parking lot looking on in a uniform state of disbelief, I proceeded undeterred, knowing the effort would yield an experience to remember.
Over the next 45 minutes, Nate and I worked away at painting our bodies, periodically getting some assistance from Paul and Gabby when we reached more challenging areas of the design. Only a few minutes into the task, I started feeling my body adapt to the cold much like I have felt when I stay in cold water for an extended period. As a result, the rest of the body painting came together nearly flawlessly, which left my torso and face half green and half yellow with a white line splitting the difference and a white “G” painted on my sternum. Although I had reached a “Zen-like” state in the cold by the time our painting project was done, Nate struggled and shivered in the cold as my moved as quickly as possible to complete his design. Eventually, the effort resulted in the two of us wearing similar designs in a Green Bay Packer motif with only minutes to spare before we had to make our way into the stadium for kickoff.
As we found our way to our seats, our paint designs made us instant celebrities among the crowd of football fans pouring into the stadium. The reaction evoked a jovial response from everyone in our group, which helped Nate and I further forget the cold as we reveled in the ridiculous nature of the ongoing experience. By the time the second quarter rolled around, people from our section were calling us out in the stands and cheering as we danced to between play music and cheered loud for the home team. Eventually, our growing body of celebrators drew the attention of a nearby cameraman who immediately panned his massive piece of video equipment our way and gave me my second “I have never...” experience for the day, getting on the scoreboard big screen.
The frozen tundra...
Enamored with our lively spirit and our bold decision to wear body paint to an outdoor football game in temperatures below freezing, the onsite video crew decided to let Nate and I bask in our moment of on-screen glory. While most clips of people in the audience lasted a few brief seconds, the stream of Nate and I dancing to the tunes pumping through the stadium stayed plastered on the screen for well over 30 seconds. In fact, the length of time caught us off guard to the point that we turned to one another with a shrug as we kept our bodies moving. Stated frankly, it was a hilarious moment that made the feat worth it, and it left us with a defining highlight from a crazy new experience on a freezing cold day in late November.
A little cold
As the game progressed, Nate, Paul, Gabby, and I continued to make the most of our experience even as the on field performance of the Packers left a lot to be desired. We pressed through the remainder of the second quarter, halftime, and the majority of the second half until we found ourselves getting comfortable wearing only paint and snow pants in 20 degrees. That stated, it became obvious when the temperature began to drop as the game continued into the late afternoon. By the time we reached the fourth quarter, a familiar feeling of cold that came with my first moments outside of my jacket earlier in the day began to creep back in. Luckily, a comeback on the field kept me animated and relatively warm, even as the game worked its way into a quarter of overtime.
With a little motivation and a lot of resilience, Nate and I kept one another in high spirits as the daylight faded and the game continued. Hopeful the Packers would claim a victory, we put aside the cold and kept cheering to the bitter end... when the game came to an abrupt end with in the least exciting way possible, a tie. Disappointed, our group worked our way out of the stadium as Nate I received our final round of cheers from attendees that were largely referring to us lovingly as “The big screen guys!” Although we didn’t see a victory from the Packers, the fact we positively affecting so many people that came to cheer with us left me feeling like the day was still a success. We gained an experience that will stick with us for the rest of our lives, made more than a few people smile, and walked away with one hell of a story. That, to me, is everything I could have hoped to take away from today’s experience (except a victory, of course).
After today’s experience, I can’t say that I will ever attend another sports event in body paint, but I definitely think the experience was worth it. In my opinion, there was probably no way to gain a more authentic experience, and I know Nate, Paul, Gabby, and I will carry this day with us for the rest of our lives. Nate and I have done a lot of crazy, hilarious things together over the years, but this one ranks up there among the best times I have ever had with a man that has been, and will always be, one of my closest friends. Frankly, I don’t know many people, even close friends, that would go out on a limb with me and sit through a professional football game wearing nothing but body paint in 20 degree weather; however, Nate had the guts to do it because he knew what it would mean to me, and that tells me he will always have my back. That stated, I can only conclude that sometimes we can realize the most unexpected things from our experiences, and the reality is wouldn’t have walked away with that realization had I not rolled the dice and tried something new today. That alone is all I need to keep pressing forward in my year of new experiences.