Say what you will but Scott Wegner knows how to throw a Super Bowl party.
For four years going to Scott “The Kid” Wegner’s house for the biggest sporting event of the year was a must-attend function. Between the lit’l smokies, 7-layer dip, comfortable seating and copious amount of Templeton Rye, Scott was the consummate host making sure all of his guests had the best evening. He generously put out a spread that would make Henry the VIII blush, kept the house overflowing with beer and poured out glasses of Templeton and ice that would stop a black-horned rhino.
In a word, Scott owned Super Bowl Sunday.
I met The Kid almost eight years ago when he applied for a bartending job at The Tavernacle. He was equal parts nerd and ski bum. He grew up in Iowa (arguably flatter than a pancake) but was dedicated skier. He played soccer throughout college and moved to Salt Lake after graduation to ski throughout the winter. He earned a job on the ski patrol at Snowbird and by all accounts, he is the fastest skier who hasn’t tried out for the Olympic team.
I never went up to the mountain with him. I only knew him from working with him at The Tavernacle and at The Woodshed. For my money, I don’t know if a kinder, smarter and more passionate man has ever crossed my path behind the bar. He loves the St. Louis Cardinals, carving powder and being in the middle of everything. Scott somehow found a balance between the ah-shucks Midwestern values and dominate personality that is necessary to pour drinks in a high volume bar. He was a colleague, apprentice, sounding board, bellwether and very good friend.
And he did all of this without ever disregarding his values. In a word, Scott Wegner is a good man.
Such a good man that he met the love of his life in Diane and did the unthinkable—got married and moved back to Iowa. He always talked about wanting to go to physical therapy school and get his masters. Opportunities opened up back home and they moved to Des Moines. It was bittersweet helping him move their stuff from their great apartment across the street from the state capital building into a U-Haul and help them on their way to a new life. I honestly believe that we might have drifted apart from hanging out with each other but our friendship never diminished. I have nothing but the most heartfelt respect for The Kid.
Except that he took his Super Bowl party with him. Son of a bitch.
For those of us that like tipping back a whiskey every now and then, the alpha and omega of great American whiskey is Templeton Rye. It was reported that it was Al Capone’s favorite whiskey and who am I to argue with the architect of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre? It’s amber in color, smooth as silk and packs the kick of a Tennessee mule. Sitting on one of Scott’s couch with a tumbler of Templeton and watching the Super Bowl was as much a part of my year as filing taxes and setting the clocks back for day light savings. The only downside to Templeton is that you can’t get it here in Utah. Scott carried on the rich tradition of bootlegging by bringing to the Beehive State a couple of bottles and sharing it with his friends.
Did I say he was a hell of a guy?
Anyway, I am going to have to make do this year without Scott and his elixir of the gods. We’re having friends over to the house for this year’s battle between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. I’ll be well fortified with DABC whiskey and Miller Lites. Somehow it is not the same without Scott.
Let’s talk football. For a guy that doesn’t watch football on Sunday, I am pretty ready for this Sunday’s game. I was pretty bummed that my fair-weather pick of the Detroit Lions going all the way was snuffed out by the Saints. I guess I was wrong in believing that George Plimpton could speak to me from beyond the grave and make me a die-hard Lions fan in one book. Nonetheless, I am excited about the matchup for the Super Bowl.
Initially, I was excited that the guy who fell ass-over-tea-kettle into a life that defies explanation, Tom Brady, was back to his fifth Super Bowl. I should hate him for all the reasons people do but I can’t. I like the fact that he is married to a Brazilian supermodel, knows how to throw a tight pass (pay attention, Tebow!) and has the ability to win under any circumstance. He quarterbacks the way I bartend: with authority and an offensive line that doesn’t bulge covered in sweat.
On the other side of the line, there is a mouth breathing hillbilly with a great football lineage named Eli Manning. Eli is by far my least favorite Manning. If I could pick one Manning to have a beer with it would probably be Cooper first and Peyton as a distant second. He looks like a bucket of doorknobs but you can’t argue with his ability to win and in the end, it is all about winning. This year’s Super Bowl is a rematch of Super Bowl XLII and I believe the wounds of the Giants beating the Patriots four years ago haven’t healed.
Super Bowl XLII was a low scoring affair that had only one significant play, David Tyree’s one-handed helmet catch that gave the Giants the go ahead possession that sealed the victory for them. I remember being at The Kid’s house with a mug of whiskey and jumping to my feet in excitement. Besides that, it was a sloppy affair and I was satisfied that the Patriot’s 19-0 run to the Super Bowl was broken up.
This year, I am a little more invested. After having my heart ripped out with my passionate love affair with Tim Tebow, seeing my recently beloved Lions lose and wondering why San Diego even has an NFL team, I’ve decided with both my heart and wallet that I am going to back Peyton’s younger brother.
New York Giants will win, 31-27.
There will be no lit’l smokies at my house this year and regrettably, no Templeton Rye. I’ll be with friends and family and I know a great time will be had by all even though the vast majority of my guests are more interested in watching the Ferris Bueller Honda commercial. I’m sure I’ll put away a herculean amount of hooch and fried foods and I’ll be paying the price on Monday. But screw it! If there was anything that encapsulated being an American, celebrating the Super Bowl with friends is as close to saluting the flag and taking your hat off for the national anthem. Congress should make the Monday after the Super Bowl a national holiday and give a tax credit for offering an unique spread.
And if that was the case, Scott would be getting a healthy tax return from Uncle Sam every year.