The Green Bay Packers are my team no matter what. I’m glad Hawai’i doesn’t have a football franchise; I don’t have to divide my loyalties. Not that I ever did. I was indifferent to the Falcons when I lived in Georgia. You see, Packer fever is a disease that never leaves you. For me it started in the 1960’s during the Lombardi era. My dad and I would huddle around our black and white TV and he’d teach me the finer points of the game…or he tried anyway. I stuck with the Packers long after the Glory Years were gone.
But being in Hawaii has its challenges with regard to football. I rarely get to see a Packer game out here. When keeping up spirits, it helps to have a good adversary. So I rejoiced when I bumped into a Bears fan during the hearings on the anti-GMO bill.
We exchange pointed barbs by email on occasion, most recently after the Bears beat the Packers and they broke Aaron Roger’s collarbone. I know there’s history between these two teams but was that necessary?
Since then we’ve had a string of losses and one tie without him, most recently a huge blowout versus Detroit. Even diehard fans haven’t raised their heads much lately.
So imagine my delight when I discovered a Packer Bar in Kona! At first I couldn’t believe my eyes – was that a Packer flag out front? I ventured inside. Holy Cow! The place was decorated with Packer memorabilia and a map of Wisconsin with pins in it. I found out later from the owner, Diane (great name!), that she only put up the map three months ago. It was already full of pins. I added one each to Manitowoc and Racine.
The restaurant is Quinn’s Almost By The Sea. Diane has been in Hawai‘i 28 years, originally hailing from Seymour, a little burg near Green Bay. Noland, her husband, is from here, so may not quite understand Packer-mania. It’s certainly true of some of their non-Packer fan customers who urge her to take down the Packer stuff at the end of the season. “No way” she said. “Packer fans are special people. Even complete strangers have a bond when they find out they are fellow Packer fans.”
I felt drawn inside, a beacon of Wisconsin familiarity here in Paradise. It could have been a family tavern out of any little town back home with all the usual appetizers (plus new ones), soup and salad, burgers and sandwiches. And for those of us brought up on small lake fishing, a special treat on the menu: beer battered fish! It wasn’t perch and walleye, but excellent none-the-less: mahi-mahi or ono. Yum. The steak fries were also very good: big and crisp with real potato flavor. The only thing I might ask the owners to consider is to replace the pale tomato in the salad with a Waimea-grown cherry tomato, though the pale tomato is more representative of the salads served in Wisconsin taverns.
From the comfort of the outdoor garden seating (this is Hawai‘i), I asked my waitress about the Packer theme. She said the owner was from Wisconsin. “Is she here today?” Yes. “Can you send her a message that I’d love to meet her?” Yes.
Soon Diane appeared, and I invited her to sit down for a few moments. After exchanging pleasantries and background information, we immediately went into an analysis of what ails the Packers, the string of quarterbacks they tried out, and what Coach McCarthy should do. Like many Packer fans everywhere, Diane suggested he put Rogers back in, “after all, the collarbone break wasn’t on his throwing arm side.” I reminisced about Brett Favre playing with a broken thumb on his passing hand.
It was an immediate connection between us. Just like she said, we are a special breed of fan. Too bad most of our connection at the moment has to be a pity party. Still, my dad would have been proud of me.
A final thought: I’m going to invite the Bear fan to watch the final game of the season, Bears versus Packers at Quinn’s Almost By The Sea. The game starts at noon in Chicago, which is 8 am here – a bit too early for beer. But I will enjoy their Mac Pie again. Imagine pecan pie, but with macadamia nuts instead, covered in whipped cream and drizzled with caramel. It’s hard to separate WisconsinDairyBeerPackers.
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