Earning the Fabiola (aka There’s a Reason I Chose the Patron Saint of Travelers as My Confirmation Name)

When I got confirmed (what I like to call the Catholic Bat Mitzvah) back in the day (and when I say that, I mean 1996), I decided to be different and choose an unusual confirmation name (a name that you are supposed to use as your Catholic name, after the middle name, but no one really does anymore). I remember flipping the pages of the big book o’ saints that St. James had and trying to find something that wasn’t Mary, Maria, Elizabeth or Ann. Somehow I settled on Fabiola, the patron saint of travelers. I think this was because at the time, I wanted to travel or wanted to take a summer vacation like all the other kids. This name was so unusual that when Bishop Clark called me up to confirm me, his exact response was, “Fabiola? I haven’t heard that for a confirmation name.”

Now that I’m 23, and regret the immense geekiness of my teenage years, I rarely use the Fabiola. I’m reluctant to mention it, until Tricia (my best friend since age 3–“We’ve been friends for 20 YEARS!!!!!“) inevitably brings it up and I have to explain my 14-year-old thinking. However, now the choice has become highly appropriate, for I have doing more traveling in the past three months than I thought I would. Here’s the overview:

  • Ending a wicked busy commencement weekend by taking a short little trip to Providence to see the last hockey of the season.
  • Going to Poughkeepsie to attend my college friends’ wedding and getting to room with Regina again.
  • Taking four flights (yes I got on a plane for the first time in five years) in order to attend my little sister’s graduation party in Rochester.
  • Driving out to Framingham for dinner with Caitlin and Chris and sharing the road with the Speeding Nuns.
  • Traveling to Yarmouth, Freeport and Kittery, Maine to attend a clam festival and to see the fine state of Maine for the first time.
  • Sticking my toes in the Atlantic for the first time while on a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard.
  • Of course, no exploits are complete without a jaunt to cheat death in East Somerville, MA.

To ramble about every single trip would be long, boring, and nearly impossible, so I will focus on the most important one of all (sorry, Chris):

SEEING STEVE YOUNG GET INDUCTED INTO THE PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME!

Yes, the trip I’ve been talking about for years (a decade, to be exact) finally occurred. My parents, my 10-year-old brother and I (my sister had to work Park Avenue Fest in good ol’ Rochester, and could not join us) piled into the family Buick Rendezvous (Buick’s spelling, not mine) and drove five hours to the grand state of Ohio to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame and watch the induction ceremonies live. We also took a detour to Cleveland to let my father bask in the glory of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and so my brother and I could run around downtown singing, “Cleveland Rocks!”

Okay, my brother and I didn’t do that.

The Cleveland detour took place on Saturday afternoon (and was not exterampeous in any means, as I had mailed my parents the “Hasenauer Hall of Fame Weekend” iternary weeks beforehand, in their folder of relevant trip information. And they think I have OCD–where would they get that idea?) My family arrived in Cleveland, parked on the waterfront, and headed over to the museum. As we walked the steps of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, we saw our first Dan Marino fan. Remember, this was Saturday afternoon, in Cleveland, 45 minutes away from Canton. And there this guy was, in a white, teal and orange 13 jersey. No biggie, I thought. There was bound to be a few.

A few turned out to be 20, 000.

We saw around 200 at the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame alone. Teal jerseies, orange jerseies, official t-shirts, homeade t-shirts, NFL jungle pants, orange hats, the number 13 EVERYWHERE.

At one point, in front of the Alan Freed exhibit I believe, I turned to my mother and said, “Mom, I think I’m outnumbered. There’s not a red number 8 in sight.”

My mother looked at me and shrugged. “How do you think I feel? I’m a Bills fan.”

We left Cleveland a few hours later, already disinheartened (see photo of Sam, my brother, at right) by the number of Dolph-fans (my dad’s word) we had encountered. Back in our hotel in Akron (the Vestal, NY of eastern Ohio, I am convinced) we thought we were safe from them. Just to be sure, when we headed to Bennigan’s for dinner, I threw on my new Hall of Fame issue Steve Young jersey (thanks, Chris!). To use Hunter 115 lingo, I had to start “reppin’.” I encountered four Marino fans across the dining room, but no confrontation occured, although I did get quite a few stares from the other diners for wearing an oversized jersey tied up 1992-style. (In another note of weirdness, did anyone else know that Ohio still allowed smoking in their restaurants?)

My parents, brother and I retreated back to our hotel, which my family was rather excited about. My family has never taken a family vacation ever, and this was only the third time my father has ever spent in a hotel, and only the third and fourth state my father has ever been in. Needless to say, our pretty large and cozy hotel room was one of the most exciting parts of the trip for my family. Even for a veteran hotel stayer myself (hello, I’ve even lived in one), I do have to say that our hotel in Akron was one of the nicest I’ve seen. It had a living room, a full kitchen (complete with dishwasher, which totally impressed my mom), a gorgeous bathroom/dressing area, and three beds. (Of course, I forgot to take a picture of it because I’m an idiot like that.)

My parents and Sam were out like a light that evening, and I would of been as well, had there not been the ESPN Classic Hall of Fame Weekend on. I have never been known to turn down a viewing of the 1993 San Fransisico 49ers Yearbook (well, except for the last five minutes–the NFC Championship Game), so I stayed up and watched that. But soon enough I went to bed, knowing full well that we would have to depart early to beat all the Marino-ites to Canton the next morning.

We packed up and reluctantly left our swanky hotel room early Sunday morning. Chris called us while we were on the 30 minute trip and let us know from Boston that NFL Network was already broadcasting live from outside the hall–and this was at 8am! After parking and taking the shuttle, we got to the Hall by the time they opened at 9am. When I was walking onto the Hall grounds, I was dejected already by the fact that I had been the only person clad in 49ers scarlet in the parking lot and shuttle–until two women who had to be in their 60s or 70s with handmade Steve Young shirts bounced up to me. “Hey girl, give me a high five!” they both screamed, and we all smiled and gave each other high fives. “We’re so excited to see another Young fan!” said one, “We’re rather few and far between here!” We were chatty for a few minutes about the crazy Marino-ites, and then went our separate ways, but instead of “Bye,” we left each other with a big, “Go Young!”

While this was going on, my family hung back, pretending that they didn’t know me, as they would end up doing several more times that day.

We then went into the museum (warning: during Hall of Fame weekend, they do raise the admission prices.) The Pro Football Hall of Fame is an absolutely awesome place if you are a football fan. There is just so much memorabila and information that it is almost overwhelming. It is also in a very cramped space, so if you’re claustrophobic, I reccommend going on like a Tuesday morning in the middle of October or something. Lucky for Hasenauers, we’re used to being crammed into spaces tighter than sardines in a can (anyone who has seen the house I grew up in can attest to that), so the throngs of people that were mingling around the hall didn’t bother us. Among the highlights is the Super Bowl section, with the box score and memorbila from every Super Bowl (including rings, not to mention a Brady jersey at every turn–it’s what you get when you win three in four years!); the “Other Leagues” section, with great information on the AFL and USFL (including a blown up front page of the Rochester Times Union from the 1920s when Rochester had a pro team); and the photography exhibit highlighting the best photos from the 2004 season. There is also the actual Hall of Fame with all of the busts of every inductee (see Jim Kelly at right), which is a great history lesson for those of us who started watching football back in the early 1990s. I must say that some of the busts look absolutely nothing like the actual people (the Kelly one is pretty close, but the Marv Levy one looks like they used a “generic old man” model.) They had the engraved shelves installed for Young and his fellow inductees already, but the busts would be unveiled during the ceremony and placed there afterwards. My absolute favourite part of the Hall of Fame had to be when a young boy and his family who were guests of the Steve Young Foundation sought me out to take a picture of them in front of one of the Steve Young exhibits. “We’ve been looking for a friendly face,” they laughed as they handed me over their camera. I was like totally shaking, and didn’t have the guts to ask where they got their Steve Young straw hats (all of Young’s personal and foundation guests had a special straw hat with a red embrordered scarf tied on it) or if I could hang out with them for the rest of the day. That would be the closest I got to meeting Steve Young, but that was cool enough for me.

Of course, after viewing all of the exibits, my family and I made our way to the museum store. In the line to get in, I had my first celeb siting–well, not just siting, but bumping. Junior Seau, now a Dolphin, but a former Charger (he played for them in the Super Bowl against the Niners in 1995), was walking the opposite direction out of the press room near the store, and brushed by my shoulder. Nearby was Zach Thomas. Both were very nice and all smiles as all the Dolph-fans they passed oohed and aahed. After spending way too much money in the museum store, my family and I made our way to Fawcett Stadium for the ceremony. While waiting in line, Cris Carter rushed to the VIP entrance, with a fan trailing him. Only seconds later on the other side of the line, Chris Berman (who was to be the emcee of the ceremony), was driven past us to the stage in a golf cart. Everyone was cheering him as he drove by, and he waved. He looks exactly the same as he does on TV–like everyone’s crazy uncle.

Now to the ceremony itself. It was such a good ceremony–except for the burning sun just frying my family and I in the stands. My parents and brother had to keep going downstairs and getting away from the sun to prevent getting sunburned. I usually don’t burn at all (that’s the 10% Italian in me), but even I was beginning to feel it. But what was even more annoying was the sixteen gazillion (okay, I mean 20,000) Dolph-fans, who were only there for their number 13. They were loud and annoying at times, not to mention rude. (There was one guy in back of me in line in the store explaining to his obviously-dragged-along girlfriend why Steve Young didn’t deserve to be inducted, and that the only way they were going to let him in was to induct them a year with “totally the best QB of all time” so he would be outdone. I don’t know if the guy was blind to my bright scarlet number 8 jersey in his face, or if he was just trying to get my goat. I’d love to say that guy was the exception, and not the rule, but unfortunately, it was the other way around.) But I didn’t let it bother me, and settled in to hear Grit Young introduce his son.

All I have to say is that it is glaringly obvious that the Young clan are lawyers. 35 minutes later, Steve Young took the podium. Steve gave us his useful well prepared remarks, expressing his gratitude to everyone (even Joe Montana, who was noteably absent from the lineup of previous inductees.) It was also interesting to hear him and his father speak about his family life–something a lot of people don’t know about, since he got married and had kids after he retired. We also got the standard story about how his mother came charging out onto his Pop Warner football field one time because a member of the opposing team made an illegal hit on her son, and the story of how he made his parents drag the whole family to the Hall of Fame on a family vacation–and how his siblings only agreed if they all got to go to Hershey Park afterward. He spoke for quite a while, but I relished every minute of it. He was obviously just soaking up the moment of being inducted, and realizing that there were some fans there for him, hidden amoungst the vast seas of teal and orange. He was so appreciative that you couldn’t help but feel happy for the guy, even if you were a Dolph-fan.

After he finished, they took a commerical time out, and my mom turned to me and said, “Um…I hope you’re not planning to see Dan Marino.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because your face is the same color as your jersey.”

I felt my face and realized that I was done. As in, “I’m so done, turn me over” done. As in, almost-Italian-but-really-French-Canadian-me was fried to a crisp. (See photo evidence to your right. That was between Benny Friedman and Fritz Pollard’s inductions. Take that redness and turn it up a few notches and you’ll see what I was really like afterward.)

So my family packed up and left before the Dan Marino celebration began. Rude? Maybe. But I wasn’t willing to risk heatstroke to see the arch-enemy of all Bills fans get inducted.

We packed into the family roadster (well, actually the family Buick Rendezvous) and headed back to Rochester, sunburnt and carrying six tons of Steve Young memoribila. A little less than five hours later, we were back in Rochester, and ten hours after that, I was back in Boston. It was a short trip (and yes, I missed my chance to stick around for Monday’s Meet and Greet with the inductees–I needed to get back to Boston by Monday afternoon), but it was worth it. I know this probably sounds amazingly stupid, but it was amazingly cool to do something that I said I’d do since the age of 13,which is when I turned to my father the summer after Super Bowl XXIX and asked him if we could go see Steve Young get inducted to the Hall of Fame whenever he was elected. I don’t think my father ever thought I’d 1) remember that or 2) really drag my whole family along for the ride when it did happen. So thank you Mom, Dad and Sam for letting me drag you to the boondocks of Ohio for Steve Young–and do you think we can go again in five years when Jerry Rice gets inducted? Please?

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2 Comments

Filed under 2005, Boston MA, Buffalo Bills, Canton, ESPN, New England Patriots, OH, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Rochester NY, Steve Young

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