The ultimate football fanatics

Published 9:24 am Thursday, January 28, 2016

For the past five months, Harrison Winkle faithfully reserved his Saturdays, Sundays and every holiday (other than Columbus Day) for camping in front of a large screen television, watching football. To Harry, there are only two seasons — “football season” and “the off season.”

As a sports masochist, Harry cheers for the Bears during football season and the Cubbies during the off-season.

This past Saturday resembled a football no-man’s-land. It was the inevitable precursor to the annual drought of Harry’s full contact enthusiasm. The college season had ended and the professional schedule had come down to the NFC and AFC conference championship games — both being played on Sunday. Harry was left with an entire Saturday void of mascots, cheerleaders, and beer commercials. Even more painful to face was the knowledge that after Super Bowl Sunday — it’s done, it’s over, it’s deflate the rest of the balls and go home.

Harry was in the initial stages of football withdrawal. He could feel it coming on, as it always did at this time of year. This Saturday offered no aluminum foil tubs filled with Buffalo wings — no chips, dip, nachos, and Tums — no pack of buddies sitting around the living room arguing statistics and other made-up things. He was just going to have to face it — he just might have to clean out his garage.

For Harry, there are exactly three things that can be counted on during football season — nothing gets started, nothing gets done and everything ends up piled in the garage. What better day could there be for cleaning out a long neglected garage, than on the first non-football Saturday of the New Year (other than the day you talk someone else into cleaning it for you — and just when does hell freeze over?).

Stuff from one side of the garage got shoved over next to stuff on the other side. Stuff got cleaned and shoved back while more stuff got shoved someplace else. All the while, the music of George Thorogood and the Destroyers blasted dust from previously dormant speakers.

Harry was just starting to show some progress — some of his stuff had actually been shoved, cleaned, and shoved back where it belonged. A few things, long overdue for attention, had screws tightened, belts replaced, and gizmos tinkered with. This was starting to show all the signs of a very productive Saturday.

That is, until, Jimmy, Firewalker, and Mort strolled through the side door of Harry’s half cleaned garage. They, too, were suffering the agony of football fever withdrawal. A brown paper bag, containing a jar of lemonade with special fixin’s, came out from under Firewalker’s coat and gently placed on the workbench. Whatever dust that did not get blown off the Mason jars, which doubled as glasses, dissolved into the lemonade as each glass was filled.

Mort started the conversation off by retelling a news tidbit he’d picked up from the internet. Turns out there is a problem with the cheese trees in Wisconsin (yes, Mort thinks cheese grows on trees — it’s on the internet, so it must be true).

Jimmy complained that they (whoever “they” are is uncertain) should start the Super Bowl earlier because he is a purist and thinks football should be played outside on a Sunday afternoon.

Firewalker claimed the lemons in his lemonade were distilled three times.

Harry leaned against his broom, looked around his partially cleaned garage, and realized the preseason starts up in August. He’s just going to have to pace himself.


Larry Wilson is a mostly lifelong resident of Niles. His optimistic “glass full to overflowing” view of life shapes his writing. His essays stem from experiences, compilations and recollections from friends and family. Wilson touts himself as “a dubiously licensed teller of tall tales, sworn to uphold the precept of ‘It’s my story; that’s the way I’m telling it.’” He can be reached at