2018 GREY CUP PREVIEW: EDMONTON AWAITS

The good folks over at TSN.CA posted a video entitled Sex and the Grey Cup: An oral history. Let me tell you, that title is very misleading and the video was a huge disappointment.

I am making my last-minute preparations for tomorrow’s departure for frigid Edmonton (Edmonton is “frigid Edmonton” even in July).  I’m washing and packing all my underwear since I always assume I’ll need every single pair, and the weird part is, I typically only wear one pair for the entire weekend because I assume I might need all of them for a really bad last day.  Realistically, I will likely be so plugged up on the last day from all the Imodium I pound back, I won’t shit for another month.  Oh well. Safety first, folks.

Most of the space in my suitcase will be filled with the twenty-layer spacesuit that any veteran Grey Cup attendee packs for the weekend.  So far, the forecast temperature looks fairly reasonable for the game itself, but that just means that only six toes will need to be amputated after the game.

On the drive up, I will be picking up my friends Jay and Roland from the Edmonton International Airport, which feels like it should be called the Calgary International Airport given its relative proximity to both cities.

Jay and Roland are flying in from Vancouver on something called Flair Air, which sounds like an airline that splurges on fancy swizzle sticks for their complimentary (limit of two) non-alcoholic beverages at the expense of certified pilots and regular mechanical inspections.  If Jay and Roland crash, that’s on them and I’m still going to the game.

Jay and Roland are staying at the MacEwan University Residence.  They have a two-bedroom suite at a ridiculously low price that is hundreds of dollars less than most of the downtown hotels (even the crappy ones).  I refused to stay there because I like my Grey Cups to feel like vacations rather than weekend prison sentences.  I presume both of them will loiter around the common areas leering at university girls.

I am staying at the palatial Sutton Place Hotel a few blocks away.  I lucked out and reserved a cheap room through Trivago about three months ago for only a few hundred dollars more than the MacEwan University Residence.  I am never completely confident that I am actually able to get a room through Trivago, given the crazy low prices I often book at (this time is no exception).  However, I called Sutton Place and they assured me my room is waiting for me and they sent me one of those automatic emails telling me they’re looking forward to seeing me.  We’ll see how they feel after the weekend is over; I expect to get a different email.

The online hotel reviews are mixed, with the typical swings between irrational rage from people disappointed that, say, the bathroom door made a funny clicking noise (“our children were terrified and we demanded to switch rooms at 2:30 in the morning!”), with the pathetic grovelling response apologies posted by the hotels themselves, to the exuberant raves from people who do not appear to have stayed at a hotel before over things like extra towels or a working in suite coffee machine (“this is truly the Taj Mahal of the prairies!”).  I assume Sutton Place will be somewhere in the middle, although the room pictures on the website do not match some of the customer pictures posted on TripAdvisor. I will either be staying in refined business-class elegance or the black hole of Calcutta.

My friend Ron will apparently be joining us for Friday and Saturday nights.  I say “apparently” because he typically changes plans at the last minute for alleged reasons that should have made it impossible for him to plan to attend in the first place, like he forgot that he’s in London England that weekend or he’s having open heart surgery.

I still don’t have tickets for the game but if there is anything you learn from attending a couple dozen Grey Cups, there are always people standing outside the stadium five minutes before kickoff desperately trying to unload tickets while the national anthem is being sung inside.  Given that the only important team is not playing this year (i.e. the Saskatchewan Roughriders), I am not concerned if my seats are located somewhere near or above the stadium lights. And I expect I will likely spend most of the game sitting in the Quarterback Club watching the game on the various televisions.

The last time I was in the Quarterback Club at Commonwealth for a regular season Eskimos-Roughriders game, my friends and I were endlessly heckled by what we initially thought was an only mildly drunk blonde who looked like she might have been an Eskimos cheerleader back in the day who told us we had to leave because the room was only for Eskimos fans. We started out thinking that she was just trying to be friendly, then it seemed like she was trying to be friendly despite actually being a little unhappy with us, to sounding genuinely unhappy with us, to getting overtly hostile and then having to be pulled away by a guy we thought was her boyfriend.  As she was berating us, we called out to the guy she had been drinking with and asked him if he could take her back, and he immediately threw up his hands and told us he had just met her.  Nevertheless, he did good-naturedly escorted her back to the table she came from and she seemed to be pleased that he bought her another drink.  I know we were.

As part of the lead up to Grey Cup, I also begin to closely monitor what I eat and when, since I can’t eat too much because of the amount of drinking I’m going to be doing, but I can’t eat nothing because of the amount of drinking I’m going to be doing.  The key to eating is moderation and timing because the key to drinking is not moderation or timing. Otherwise, things can get a little ugly.  Let’s just say that the bathrooms at the Winnipeg court house in 2015 will never be the same again.

I was watching Mike Klassen and Kyries Hebert speaking to the assembled press on TSN.CA.  I sat with Mr. Klassen’s family at last year’s Grey Cup.  They were good-naturedly grumbling that the former Stampeder had not been activated for the game and, near the end of the game, they were half-good-naturedly complaining that the game would not have turned out the way it did if Mr. Klassen had been activated.  Mr. Hebert seemed like a really interesting and nice guy, which is surprising because he comes across as a total psycho with no remorse during games.  I can say that here because no one reads this blog, but if he was to find out I wrote that, I believe I would cancel my hotel reservations and stay home this weekend just in case he somehow found out who I was.

I was also watching the Calgary Stampeders and Ottawa REDBLACKS! being interviewed as they arrived in Edmonton.  It was a contrast in styles;  it will be interesting to see which style works best for the game.  The Stampeders seemed all loosey-goosey, dressed up like Torontonians who are attending their first Calgary Stampede and have no idea they’re not supposed to look like the cast from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!  The Ottawa REDBLACKS! all acted like they were the latest graduating class from a court-ordered 12-week anger management program who knew they only had to hold it together for another ten minutes until they got their completion certificates, afterwhich they could get their firearms returned once their probation expired.

There’s a nice post over at The Ringer about the Grey Cup:

https://www.theringer.com/nfl/2018/11/21/18105361/grey-cup-canadian-football-super-bowl-thanksgiving

Here’s my reviews of the last three Grey Cups:

http://www.discombobulated.ca/grey-cup-2015/2015-winnipeg-grey-cup-post-weekend-review/

http://www.discombobulated.ca/category/grey-cup-2016/

http://www.discombobulated.ca/grey-cup-2017/2017-grey-cup-review/

Enjoy.  And don’t tell Mr. Hebert about any of this.

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