28 February 2010

I bought $15 worth of lottery tickets yesterday.

No shit.

Yesterday was the best/oddest day I can remember in a LONG time.

Brian and I began our afternoon by traveling about various malls and stores in our area, searching for a Team USA jersey. We're headed to BWW today to watch the game (and pouring one out for Team America is quintessentially American, yes?).

We didn't really have high expectations for our quest. As I've written before, our area of the world has only started paying attention to hockey with the advent of the Pens' success, little girls' (and boys') crushes on Sid the Kid, and people having wet dreams imagining themselves capable of Ovechkian feats on the ice.

So, what did we find?

1. A Team Russia Ovechkin jersey
2. A Team Canada Crosby jersey
3. A Team USA Orpik T-shirt

Now, I will fully concur with the guys over at TPL that Orpik, as one of a handful of "relative enemies" (isn't that terminology oh-so-appropriate?), has worked his ass off and deserves our admiration.

But going so far as to wear a T-shirt with his name on it? Sorry, no dice. I have many levels of hatred, and while Orpik doesn't incur the full-tilt wrath that others receive, I'd still rather wear a shirt composed of bat barf and possum pubes. That's just how I roll.

Defeated, we had run out of places to look in and around our shopping nucleus until it dawned on Brian: We should check out this souvenir store in Breezewood, Pennsylvania.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about Breezewood, PA. It's about a half hour from where we live, and it's the point at which Interstate 70 merges with the Pennsylvania Turnpike. There is absolutely nothing there, no legitimate center of town or neighborhoods; it's nestled in the Southern Alleghenies, surrounded, most likely, by moonshiners and people who don't wait for deer season to show a 10-point buck who's boss. But because Breezewood is at a much-traveled crossroads, it looks like this:



And there, in that very picture, right behind the McDonald's sign, you see the place that will forever be known in TSO circles as The Greatest Store In The History Of Mankind.

We'd visited said store before when we were in the area; it's a hell of a place to go if you're a sports fan. You can definitely get your fill of Steelers' paraphernalia: drop $20, walk out with a mug that has the greatest hits of your local dialect, which consist of 50,000 different ways to drop "Yinz" and "nyeeeeat" into everyday conversation; a T-shirt with Big Ben's face enclosed in a heart; and a hat with long, flowing curls attached so you, too, can be Polamalu-gorgeous. The only things I haven't seen there that disappointed me a little are actual steel curtains, but I'm quite certain if you asked the owners about them, they'd probably pull some out of their basement or out of their own bathroom or something. In addition to Steelers' gear, they have various throwback jerseys from practically every NFL team ever over the last 40 years or so.

In recent times, they, too, have gotten into the spirit of the Pens' victory by building an extensive collection of merchandise, including an old-school Lemieux jersey and purses made to look like Crosby's and Fleury's jerseys. They even had a lineup of bobbleheads of each person from last year's roster holding the Stanley Cup. I thought about how awesome it would be to see this for the Wings and became intensely, almost violently, jealous.

We were about to leave disappointed and empty-handed because they had no Team USA merchandise whatsoever when Brian left me to go in another room of the store. He came back a few minutes later and said, "I have to see you right now." Confused, I offered, "I'm...here?" to which he replied, "No, you need to come with me right now."

Back in the other room, which, it turns out, is the clearance room, were a couple of authentic Red Wings jerseys. For a disgustingly low fraction of the price typically attached to them. And these were the real deal, too. We combed them over to look for any defects or anything weird, like a missing "T" in Hank's name or some sloppy stitching. Nothing.

Turns out, according to the co-owner, that they had ordered a shipment of Wings' jerseys in anticipation of the Stanley Cup Finals last year, to appease Michiganders who had passed through and commented that they'd like to see some Wings' gear. These represented the remnants of the supply, which hadn't sold as well as they'd initially anticipated, so now they're just anxious to get rid of them.

To ballpark how lucky we felt at being the ones to find them, let me say this: To find these jerseys, at that price, in an area that barely acknowledges hockey exists, particularly outside of the white-hot Penguins, was just astoundingly lucky. We felt like Jonathan Rhys Meyers at the end of Match Point. What are the odds?

With that, we raided every Sheetz in the tri-state area to procure lottery tickets. You don't just pass up a day like that without going for broke, right? Go big or go the fuck home.

FYI: If anybody happens to be traveling through Breezewood, there is a size 50 Lidstrom jersey waiting with your name on it. Check it out.

12 comments:

  1. I want to express that she is not exaggerating; the photo you see IS BREEZEWOOD. I'm fairly certain it contains no actual houses or residents, just truck stops and bizarre curiosity shops. Its a shit hole.

    But if you're even buzzing down the PA Turnpike; stop in. You'll never encounter a more bizarre hodgepodge of stuff. Miniature collection of the Oakland Raiders starting lineup figurines? Check. Brady Quinn bobbleheads? check. Wolf T-Shirs? check. Dead animal heads mounted on walls? Um hmmmmm.

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  2. AWESOME day.

    More importantly, you are like 2 1/2 - 3 hours away from the homeland which is totally good information to have next time I am out visiting.

    Did you get anything?

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  3. Intersections like that are so weird.

    I enjoy seeing country road intersections with a sign and nothing but a bar, a gas station, and a farmhouse off in the distance. :)

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  4. Scenic Breezeway! I've dined many times at it's fancy hi-falootin restaurants on my way from Cleveland to D.C. I'll most likely be traveling through in August for a wedding so the Liddy jersey is mine!

    Off to watch the Griffins this afternoon and take a look at OK T and Abby. I'll be recording the game but I know it's futile to attempt the bubble. USA! USA! USA! My prediction is that Crosby will be a -4 and will cry.

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  5. I know this is going to shock you but I have slept overnight in Breezewood on 3 separate occasions. I had an ex who always played gigs in Richmond and we would stop in Breezewood to catch some Z's before continuing on our ride home.

    And I would like to add that how appropriate is the fact that purses are made of Cindy and Flowers jerseys. Priceless.

    I just got back from Chicago after hanging out with a rock n roll band. It was good times but for one horrible occurance. The guy that stood next to me during the show was wearing a Kane jersey, and the guy behind me was wearing a Kane USA jersey and they both kept touch and rubbing me with them. I feel soooo contaminated. I'm wearing Redwing gear right now to decontaminate, I feel so dirty. The worst part was the bass player put on a Blackhawks jersey and after the show I told him that he had no idea how bad I wanted to set him on fire.

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  6. Dena rocks as always. Places like that doesn't exist in Europe (or well, not many of them anyways). I already have a Nick jersey. Grats on the find. Coherence in comments suck.

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  7. LMAO @ Dena. How I wish I could've been there to see that. I probably would have told the dude something incredibly similar.

    Krononymous - So jealous that you're going to see Abby!

    I have a whole bunch of relatives in both western and eastern PA, and so seeing a stop like that on the PA turnpike brings back so many memories... They DO always have strange stuff in their convenience stores. I'm really going to have to pay attention to that next time I'm heading in that direction.

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  8. Here's a little hockey, I mean Kronwall related nonsense:

    "Now everyone looks like they are back healthy. So now there is not much more speaking to do -- we just have to get out there and get winning."--Nik Kronwall

    That's the future Mr. Dena speaking bitches.

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  9. I canNOT believe you guys have been to Breezewood. Not because it isn't a popular crossroads/rest area for east-west travel (it is), but because it's just so fucking close to here. Next time any of you are in the area, give us a holler. We'll come up and grab dinner...maybe some sex, see what happens.

    Greatest thing we ever saw in a PA gas station? A brochure for Christian mail-order brides. No joke! I wish I still had the URL.

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  10. Nurse Nitz, I believe Abby is a little depressed on the AHL circuit - he was scrappy as hell. Griffs got off to a horrible start and I was a little annoyed as there was a big crowd (for once but I think that's because it was bring your dog to the game) of moron Clevelanders (the definition of which is "West Siders") screaming for their "Monsters". So retarded on so many levels (That one is for you, Sarah!). Down 4-0 (man, Larsson looks B.A.D.) and then 5-1 only to rally and tie it up in the 3rd. My fellow Clevelanders were annoyed with me and demanded to know my city of origin. "East side" says I, enough said. Griffs lost in true Red Wings fashion in the shoot out.

    Andy, Ole still hasn't done anything to win my heart and I want so bad to round out the troops with a Norwegian. He had a fight that was impressive but not much else.

    Tatar was looking good although I didn't notice Kindl too much. I spent OT drinking Guinness next to a couple of Canadians who actually apologized for shouting "YES" when Fart Face scored. Can you imagine any of us apologizing if we were in a bar in Canadaland when Parise scored?

    Natalie, I'll let you know and will hold you to grub and brew. If you behave, we'll see about the other stuff!

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  11. Whoa, Krononymous. I had switched up to drinking Guinness by OT, too. Weeeeird...

    And no, for the record, I would NOT have apologized. Apologies over hockey are for chumps.

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