As I jogged through the rundown streets of New Orleans, I felt like I was sweating powdered glass. I had a massive hangover and my body was trying to burn fuel that consisted of bourbon and alligator sausage. Mid jog, I picked up my ringing cell phone.
“What’s up?!”, I said completely out of breath.
“What are you doing right now?”, my brother said confused.
“Running off a hangover”, I responded. Frenchman Street had proved to be amazing the night before.
“Aren’t you going to the Super Bowl today? Why aren’t you out tailgating right now?”
I told him I was working on it and he told me to call him back later.
Just then I was interrupted by a text from another friend.
“Do you want to sneak into the Rolling Stones party?”
Today was clearly going to be fantastic :-)
I arrived back at my Airbnb apartment and was greeted by my friend Craig. He looked like he was about to jump and touch the ceiling as he told me he needed to show me something.
Laid out on the bed was something foam and yellow that looked like it had been shoved into a colored garbage bag. Before I invited him to, he grabbed the mess and put it over his head.
Craig was going to the Super Bowl dressed as a giant banana… a giant banana that was wearing a Seattle Seahawks poncho. This made sense to no one but was clearly amazing. We both agreed there was a good chance he wouldn’t be let in or would get kicked out because of the costume. Meh… He might ruin the Super Bowl (at least for the person sitting behind him) but if not, it would likely get him on TV. Or at least the Internet. We quickly packed and set out for the Superdome via Bourbon Street.
I have been pursuing my bucket list for about two years now. I have had some amazing adventures and learned an incredible amount. Late last year, I felt something change in how I viewed my mission. I felt it was too much about me. I had done many of my life list items with other people but the emphasis of accomplishment had been on both of us, I wanted to move the emphasis entirely to others. I wanted to move up on the success pattern (help yourself, help your friends/family and then finally change the world.) and I was finally ready for the second step.
The turning point in my life that finally freed me to pursue my bucket list was hitting rock bottom while battling depression. It was the hardest experience of my life but gave me the massive kick I needed. I wanted to figure out how I could give my friends the same type of boost but from a positive place rather than a hard experience.
After a few iterations, I came up with the Super Bowl challenge. In short, I e-mailed 75 of my inspirations and challenged them to take a massive positive leap in their life. Whoever took the most inspiring leap, would win Super Bowl tickets. You can read more about the experience and the results here.
Craig was the winner of that challenge and his leap (which he asked me to keep private) has inspired me everyday since.
Experiencing the Super Bowl
Both Craig and I were ecstatic as we reached Bourbon Street. Even at the far end (toward the Marigny), the energy was glowing. We stopped into the first pub we saw and grabbed the first drink we recognized, a hurricane. One guy screamed “Banana!” at us and several other people yelled “wooo! Seahawks”. It turned out their were a lot of Seattle friendly people in New Orleans. The bartender laughed and served us the strongest hurricanes I have ever had. We thought we would not be needing a second drink but this proved incorrect very quickly. New Orleans had to pause Mardi Gras celebrations due to the Super Bowl but the people of the city sure as hell were not going to let the party stop.
As we walked, we saw Ravens fans chanting at 49s fans and clown people chanting at bead throwers on balconies. I grabbed a po’boy (a local sandwich), bought a light-up jelly fish hat and crown, found some more bars and the Banana and I continued on our way. Bourbon Street really did live up to its reputation as being a ridiculous spectacle of craziness and nakedness. (Sorry those photos didn’t make this post.)
We made it to Canal Street and were ushered into a general crowd that we assumed were heading to the Superdome. The energy was great and people were literally dancing in the street. We saw jazz bands playing on rooftops and every kind of football fan you could imagine.
Eventually we arrived outside of the Superdome and joined yet another huge group of people. The security and lines into the Super Bowl were well organized and moved quickly. Everyone was excited and had a good attitude about the rival teams.
We finally got to our seats and introduced ourselves to the people around us. The first thing the guy sitting behind Craig said was “you better keep that banana down during the game”. Craig reassured him, “trust me, I thought through this.”
Beyonce and The Black Out
Every year I bet on the coin toss. I chose heads and Banana Boy chose tails. For the third year in a row (although first against a fruit), I won five dollars. (no big deal or anything :-p).
The game was super exciting and it seemed surreal to see all of the things I normally only see on TV. It was loud, bright and and exciting. The special effects (lights, fireworks, sounds) were taken to a new level. In hindsight, it was probably the most expensive room I have ever been in.
At half time, the crowd of 75,000 attendees took out our supplied gift bag (things?) and watched as several hundred people assembled a stage on the field. The entire setup took no longer than 10 minutes.
The crew turned down the lights and revealed all of the attendees blue lights. Beyonce got on stage and did a great performance. There was a general feeling in my seating section of how unreal all of this felt. Banana Boy looked at me and said, Holy crap this is cool!
After the halftime show, the stadium lights were turned back on and the stage was disassembled. We waited for the game to start again and I got up to grab reinforcements of food and drinks.
As soon as I walked into the corridor, everything went black. I was on a mission to pee so I ignored what others saw as a major inconvenience and made my way to the bathroom unobstructed. I laughed as a drunk guy walked by me and commented, “dude, the lights broke!”
Under the dim shine of the emergency lighting, I went to the food counter to buy supplies. The guy looked at me confused and said that all of their machines were down and I couldn’t buy food or beer.
I looked at him with horror in my eye.
“So what you are saying is no one in the stadium can buy beer?”
He gulped and nodded.
I went back into the darkened stands (half the lights were on) and sat back down next to the giant banana. We looked at each other in amazement. “I can’t believe this happening!”
Right then, my cell phone erupted (understandably my signal was weak and came in spurts)
I received 15 text messages all at once:
- “Has Bain showed up yet?”
- “HAHAHA, I told you Entergy sucks!” (a local friend of mine said referring to the notorious energy company.)
- “What’d you do!?” (I got this one in different words about a dozen times)
- “Holy crap, I have ads running!” (From a client of mine.)
- “This time, the rich people are stuck in the Superdome!”
and my favorite which came in via Facebook:
People in the audience started chanting “free beer” until one guy stopped the crowd with, “no guys, think bigger, free bourbon, free bourbon!”. Got to love the Big Easy. #Merica
The stadium started doing the wave and generally people took the whole thing quite well. (It is worth noting that the wave went counterclockwise. It was weird.)
As almost a billion people saw on TV and online, the Super Bowl was a huge success. It was exciting, surprising and incredibly fun. I felt very lucky to be able to attend and even more lucky to experience it with someone (or as a the case may be, some fruit) that greatly inspired me. I look back and know that a lot of good came out of the Super Bowl Challenge (much more than was experienced on game day itself). I look forward to seeing the remarkable amounts of good my friends and inspirations can create in next years challenge.
P.S. I moving fast with my life list right now. I am hitting one about every ten days. Next up is Mardi Gras!