"Yep! Me and my boy are going down to The Big Easy for the big game." Joe Fan appeared normal, other than being somewhat grammatically challenged with a penchant for nicknames.
There would be more. "If you ain't ever taken your kid to the Super Bowl, you ain't much of a dad. Or football fan for that matter."
He brandished a pair of tickets to Sunday's game between San Francisco and Baltimore like they were slivers of the Shroud of Turin; replete with holograms to prevent counterfeiting.
"Look at these beauties (face value $850). Got 'em through a buddy whose nephew is the deputy associate director of environmental services (garbage) at the Super Dome. He got into a little Katrina restoration company jam and needed the cash to top off his attorney. He was short four grand and I wanted little Lionel Lee here to see sport's greatest spectacle in person."
$2000 for an $850 ticket, I yelped silently! Aren't you the shrewd one. Super Stupor.
For the purpose of full disclosure, the names have been changed to protect the gullible. But the theme is recreated annually as people buy into one of America's biggest snake-oil swaps.
There are seats in the Superdome that don't show up on GPS. A Sherpa would turn back. But we're talking fans here. Real fans. The kind the NFL counts on to fuel the mystique of not necessarily the best game, just the last game of its season. If it turns into a contest? All the better.
Because no one ever comes entirely clean about the standard Super Bowl experience.
What you hear: "I'll never forget it. It was a unique father-son bonding experience."
The reality! "Lionel Lee kept whining about oxygen deprivation. And Lord it was crowded. (By definition) Expensive too. Guy next to me, knocked my $9 beer over on my $20 program. And my boy lost his $35 foam finger on a half-hour trek to the restroom. Other than that the half-time show was too long and I couldn't hear the lyrics. Oh, and the game was kind of boring. But 'ya gotta go sometime!"