Chief gripe: Too much for too little

?Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Half-times take 12 minutes. This is not coincidence.? ?Erma Bombeck

Four short years ago it took divine intervention to find a Chiefs ticket. I had to set KC Wolf dolls on my monitor, hum the Tomahawk Chop theme three times a day, brush up on typing tests to keep my words per minute above 80 and neurotically test my Internet connection to make sure I could get on the Kansas City Chiefs Web site at the exact minute ticket sales opened, then type fast enough to come away with two (three if the NFL gods saw fit) tickets for the worst game on their schedule.

And I paid $70 per ticket for the pleasure of the concrete backrest that you can only find at the very top of that stadium. Those would be the cheap seats. The R-rated seats. (Which is so much more obvious when you bring your kids along.)

A lot can happen in four years. Or a lot can not happen, I guess. If you care at all for the game or the team, you know love hurts. And it stinks, too. It really stunk last Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

It?s bad enough to watch them lose. Harder with a Bills fan sitting behind you. And when you?re cold on top of it all, it?s just painful.

Other things have changed in four years. Those little KC Wolf dolls I mentioned setting on my monitor? The little stuffed ones that could have just as easily come from those 50-cent crane games you see at movie theaters? Those cost $22.

No wonder they keep all that merchandise in glass cases.

My deprived daughter was only able to get a $5 hotdog, a $5 cup of Sprite and, because she wore her Tony Gonzalez jersey in my honor, I threw in an $8 Christmas ornament and a wrist band.

My mistake was the last-second decision to get a different ornament for our other daughter who didn?t come along. Add another $12.

I don?t consider myself cheap, but?well, never mind. Yes, I am cheap and that?s why I?m just feeling a little used right now. Having my devotion being taken advantage of that way.

But we showed them. After a bumbled kick reception, an interception and a sad series of other screw-ups, we followed most of the crowd out at the end of the third quarter.

OK, so we gave them money for three tickets, spent $30 on gas, drove three hours both ways, paid $22 to park, bought $30 worth of food, another $25 on souvenirs, then we left after 45 minutes of actual game time.

Yep, we showed them.

But all is not lost. Gonzalez had a great game. I am?I mean we are all?lucky to still have him in a Chiefs uniform. And I got to walk into Arrowhead Stadium again, be a part of the loudest football crowd anywhere (even at a pathetic half capacity), finally sit in a section that respected the fact that small kids were sitting close by, and smell the barbecue that fills the parking lot.

With all the big things I have to be thankful for as Thanks?giving arrives, this is just one of the small things. That I?m able to throw some money at a good time, complain about it the whole time, and then relive the memories as we hang little football ornaments on our Christ?mas tree.

After all, football is as Thanksgiving-ish as turkey. ?Tis the season to appreciate it. Everyone knows it?s the small things that matter the most.

Sometimes the very smallest things.

A guy sitting a few rows behind us at the game put it best. His comment reminded me that even when it all seems hopeless, something sarcastically positive can be found.

His words of encouragement after a less-than-productive play: ?Way to get past the line of scrimmage, guys!?

Now that?s the Thanksgiving spirit.

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