The Pittsburgh Ten

In Disney World commercials, a kid walks into the theme park where Mickey, Donald and all the characters are lined up waiting to greet her. You know, the kind of magical thing that never happens when you actually go there.  Unless you went with us this weekend to Pittsburgh.

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Lindsay, Alison, Emma and I arrived from Canada and Maryland on Friday afternoon.  That night we weren’t at dinner 20 minutes (or one drink) before Robert Bortuzzo walked in the door.

Let’s be honest.  How many people in how many places would get excited about this?  How often is that one person in that one place when it happens?  Well that person is Alison and that place was Meat and Potatoes and I honestly thought it was the highlight of the weekend on the first night.  It helps that Borts is 6’4″ and can clearly be seen from across the room.  We ate (good food, great atmosphere) and presumably he did the same.  Alison did not fall down when passing his table.  The trip was off to an excellent start.

Emma, Alison, me, Lindsay

Emma, Alison, myself, Lindsay and Borts (not pictured).

Afternoon games are the best because you just wake up and hockey.  Saturday morning we managed breakfast before warm-ups, which found Lindsay getting politely razzed by everyone at Consol for her Stamkos shirt.  Pittsburgh people are the friendliest even when they’re giving you a hard time.  When warm-ups started everyone remembered Steven looks like this:

Right game, not our photo.

Right game, not our photo.

… and gave Lindsay a pass.  Don’t worry, she had on her Crosby jersey by game time.  If you watched the back and forth of the game, you saw Crosby score first and probably heard us screaming.  Geno had two goals plus the first star post-game on-ice interview.

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I’m score. (Welp, foot injury.)

James Neal did what he always does when I go to Consol (both times) – win it in extra frames.  Last time was a shootout, now overtime.  He must know how mad he makes us sometimes – he’s that boyfriend who you keep breaking up and making up with.  As Emma would later say, “James Neal is every mistake I made in my twenties.”

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After the game, we went to Primanti Bros.  You’ve all probably been there and we knew to expect the unparalleled marvel of multi-tasking: fries inside a sandwich.  America, Land of Innovation.  What we didn’t expect were $4 jumbo beers – how does anyone stay sober in Pittsburgh?  Yuengling practically flows from fire hydrants in the street.

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After sandwich coma and a change of clothes, we did even more eating at Butcher and the Rye.  You should all travel with Lindsay and Alison – they make reservations at the best places.  In less time that it took Borts to be wished into existence the night before, Brendan Morrow and his excellent hair appeared.  We appreciated it for one moment… except he now plays for the Blues.

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You can wish a lot of failure and heartbreak on an opposing team.  We wished food poisoning – and didn’t wish hard enough, based on the next day’s game.  We were busy planning knife-throwing crimes in case we saw David Backes.  Sorry Sochi puppies, but we hold a grudge.  Steve Ott was there too – enough of a directional beacon for hockey anger.

We were a bit stuck downtown and ended up at bar called Olive or Twist twice. Tumblr informs us that once upon a time, a lucky bachelorette party stumbled upon Neal and Crosby there.  (We hope the bride to be hadn’t signed her pre-nup yet.) We got only a sad guy on a sad guitar acoustically serenading us with slow-jam versions of 90′s pop songs.  His ballad version of “Bye Bye Bye” was a momentary bright spot.  There was in fact a bachelorette party near us – no Penguins to save their day, only Hootie and the Blowfish covers.   Still we were 2-for-2 on NHL sightings.  Well done, Pittsburgh.

Currently being painted on the side of my house.

Currently being painted on the side of my house.

Sunday was another morning of breakfast and hockey.  Penguins warm-up skate is always a highlight and they could make good money selling tickets for just that.  The game… was the game.  A strangled 1-0 loss.  Welcome to the stretch and the playoffs, where tension takes the place of fun!  At least we had giant burgers from Burgatory and cleaned out the PensGear store to the tune of Robert Bortuzzo’s only shirt sale possibly ever.  (Mostly kidding.)  We did get a Matt Niskanen intermission interview to match my new shirt and some incoherent shouting about turtles.

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Too much… closer… perfect.

We nursed our mild depression before calling up @TheChadPGH to join us for dinner.  The hotel even gave us a ride in a van with a giant chocolate chip cookie on the side, and right outside the restaurant they were filming Aaron Paul’s new movie.  Got all that?  Dinner, Hollywood, Cookie Van.  We are VIP.

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Chad was already at The Urban Tap and I have to think he wouldn’t trade what happened next for dinner with any other four girls who are not, say, SI swimsuit models.  It was that memorable.  We ordered more freakishly underpriced Yuengling and within minutes, Alison said: “I think Lee Stempniak is here.”  Yup. That was it – 3-for-3.

As we were still laughing, a tall skinny guy in a light dress shirt came in.   Really tall, like almost as tall as… and right behind him, a shorter, stockier guy in a dark blazer.  With hair like a Ken doll.

Me: “Crosby just walked in the door.”

Live reaction shot of me and Chad, hacked from a security camera:

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Lindsay, Alison and Emma:

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Life, in general:

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That’s it.  I didn’t faint and the floor didn’t swallow me.  Impressed?  You should be.  Everyone turned to look – there’s no being sly in this moment.  Sure enough, Crosby and Borts again, joining Stempniak and Brian Gibbons.  Like normal people on a normal Sunday in a normal life where Sidney Crosby wears jeans and is not behind a pane of glass.

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This is where Chad became a rescue worker in a potential disaster, keeping us focused, talking, alive.  Good thing because without him who knows what we would have said.  And how loudly.  Why does that matter? Because just behind the pole Lindsay was leaning against – Brandon Sutter.  He’d been there the whole time.  We didn’t realize until Borts walked by, squeezed between Lindsay and the table and yelled, “SUTTSY!”  Now, BSutts is Alison’s favorite.  Borts is on the list, and that’s rare enough, but truth be told he is no BSutts to her.  For Borts and BSutts to be talking within arm’s reach… this is Christmas, people.  It’s every birthday you ever had.  If Alison were shot from a cannon into a bucket of jellybeans it could not have been more perfect.

Just when we thought Pittsburgh had really over-delivered, there was one trick left.  The first open table was, of course, right next to the Penguins.  WHO GETS UP FROM THIS TABLE?  Who finishes eating and thinks, “I’m leaving to do something better with my Sunday night?”  The hostess pointed us that way and Chad’s reaction was just, “Oh my God.”

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(You know I was the first one over there for the best seat.  I can fly.)

We spent the next four hours having an amazing girls + Chad night with the lovely backdrop of Sidney Crosby.  Borts too, of course, and Gibbons, Stempniak, Craig Adams showed up, Zach Sill, I think that’s it.  (Edit: Also Deryk Engelland.)  BSutts dropped by.  We pretended to care about the basketball game on TV, I accidentally ordered grilled lettuce for dinner (with cheese) and we kicked the keg of Yuengling.  There was some dreamy sighing and a comment or two about Sid wearing a blazer with sneakers, but we managed to be quite coherent-ish.  When it was over, Crosby and Borts left first then other people trickled out.

Now, I know most of you are thinking “WHERE ARE THE PICTURES?!”  Even my husband looked seriously disappointed when he said, “You sat near Sidney Crosby for four hours and didn’t even talk to him?”  He is not impressed by my motivation to (re-)marry up.

We didn’t ask for pictures.  We didn’t interrupt or talk to them.  We didn’t even discuss whether or not we would.  They were having fun (and so were we, plenty of it) being regular people.  It would have been awkward to interrupt, and even more so to sit nearby for hours afterward.  So while I will normally talk to a tree, and I did talk to Gibbons and Sill later, you’ll have to take our word that it looked like this:

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And most of the time like this based on where the tables were:

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Plus a lot of this:

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And for the finale, this moment from In The Room:

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Trust us: whatever you’re thinking, it was 87% better than that.   It might not have been the night for the best Instagram photo of all time – but there’s always next year’s 2nd annual trip.

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Leave a Reply

  1. Sasha Reply

    Reading this made me laugh, squeal and almost cry. Pretty much the best road trip ever. Count me in for next year!

  2. Angela Reply

    I. Would. Have. DIED. (Best story of the week!)

  3. Me: “Guys, the only way this could be any better for me is if Sutter showed up.”
    Robert Bortuzzo, mere moments later: “HEY SUTTSY!”
    Me: “My life has peaked. And we’re never leaving Pittsburgh.”

    OH, AND DON’T FORGET ENGO!!

  4. So happy for you guys! I have done my fair share of scurrying away from hockey players because OVERWHELMING. Knowing you managed to sit that close to half of the Penguins is a testament to all of you! Every hockey field trip should pay off so handsomely :)

  5. Kate Reply

    I have been waiting and waiting for this recap, knowing it would be amazing, and it WAS! FLAAAAILLL! You guys are making me want to leave Wisconsin behind and book it to Pittsburgh!

    Also, props for playing it cool and just basking in the glow instead of talking to them. As much as I love Sid and his awkward hands in pocket pose, I do feel bad that he can’t have a regular night out.

  6. I’m super curious if everyone pretty much left them alone – mostly because I’m such an awkward-Panda I find celebrity interactions basically equivalent to dying and am always impressed with people who manage it.

    • and now to clarify – I meant everyone else in the restaurant [besides you]. Good lord clarity is not a skill I have today.

      • Pants Reply

        Everyone did leave them alone. The place was pretty big and full too, but it didn’t seem like most people even noticed.

        • Missy Reply

          I can’t believe everyone didn’t notice. The expression on my face would be like a neon sign, alerting everyone that the king of hockey was in the building lol

  7. vlahopg2 Reply

    How do you get included for next year?. I swear I am a polite Canadian. I would not interrupt anyone’s meal. I would just die slowly on the inside. And yes my husband knows about my Pens affliction.

    Mind you if I saw Mario in person there would be no guarantee I would be able to stay upright (picture someone doing a Texas curtsey)

  8. Vanessa Reply

    Wow, that is awesome. And the fact that you didn’t creep them out is totally why I love this blog.

  9. You girls make me laugh. Best blog out there! More proud of you for not interrupting the Pens dinner. You are simply the best!

    • Missy Reply

      Amen to the “best blog ever”! I make my non-hockey-liking friends read this blog and they even think it’s hilarious!

  10. capsfan22 Reply

    Since seeing your tweets, I’ve been dying for the post! I couldn’t squee on twitter without outing my normally serious, professional self as a total fangirl :) I’m disappointed but also happy that there are no photos – I’m a big believer in letting famous people be unless they are on duty. BUT WE NEED MORE DETAILS!! Were they funny, talkative, harassed by fans, what?

    Sorry, but I’ve got to let it out now: SQUUUEEEEEEEEE!

    • Pants Reply

      Their boys night out looked about as fun as our girls night out, but we had Chad so we win. ;) They looked like they were having a great time. Also the waitress paid as much attention to us as she did to them, so they certainly didn’t seem to think they were a big deal.

      • capsfan22 Reply

        You definitely win for being all “Crosby who, we have CHAD!”. I’m sure that hurt Sid’s feeling just a tiny bit, especially after he went to the trouble of putting that blazer on for you, making BSutts lurk until you showed up so he knew when to time his entrance, then paying the table next to him to leave. He was laughing to cover the pain.

  11. Cassy Reply

    Wow – what a road trip! I know what you mean about the picture thing; exactly!

  12. Guys, I’m really happy I decided to wear my leather pants that night. Even if it meant being stuffed after all that cake + tequila shots + Yeungling we drank. It was all worth it, plus that beer you spilled all over me, Pants. BEST. WEEKEND. EVER.

    • Pants Reply

      I will buy you a replacement beer next year when we see Brandon Sutter again.

      • Think we’re good. Preeetttyy sure we’re the reason Urban Tap had to change the keg at 10 pm on a Sunday.

  13. This makes me happy – good work world.

    [Also I agree with the commenter below who says the fact that you left them alone is one of the reasons I like this blog :)]

  14. Tracy Reply

    I hope one of you girls had moment where you meaningfully locked eyes with your man (no disrespect to Chad). Hee hee. Glad you had a nice weekend in my hometown. It’s stuff like this that really makes me miss Pittsburgh … nice people and let’s be honest cheap beer.

    • Tracy Reply

      I forgot to mention, during your knife-throwing planning crime committee against David Backes, you can not, I repeat can NOT harm his vocal chords in any way shape of form. I could listen to him all day. I’m not the only one, am I?

  15. Angie Reply

    I’ve been waiting for your post since I saw your tweet. I would have died from school girl giggles!

  16. Emily Reply

    This blog never disappoints. I can’t even tell you how many childish giggles I let out while trying to avoid looking like that crazy person laughing at herself in the library.

  17. Missy Reply

    YEAH!!! I’m so excited for you guys! And it’s so cool that y’all didn’t bother them. I was jumping around in my seat cause reading this made me feel like I was there with y’all!!!!

  18. Deidra Reply

    This is so amazing! My best friend and I have made 3 Pittsburgh Road trips from Canada like this so I can relate to a lot of the places you went to and how the people of Pittsburgh are so nice and welcoming!

    Love all your captions and gifs to go along with your trip. “how does anyone stay sober in Pittsburgh?”- I know right???

  19. Are Sid’s pockets as small in real life?!

  20. Mimi Reply

    WOW! What a great weekend! I’m taking my son to Pittsburgh this weekend for the Blackhawks game. Somehow I don’t think I will have the same experience that y’all did unless the players hang out at like McDonalds! (son is 11). I can only imagine what would have happened if Nealer had walked in holding a puppy and wearing his glasses! Sigh!

  21. Dorothy Reply

    Ladies, you are the shit! This is THE snazziest, funniest blog! So glad I found it. Your Pitt trip was even better than mine.