You say you had a great time during the Super Bowl? I'll see your great time and raise you -- with the spectacular experience of Tim and Katie Larkin.
Like much of Washington, Tim and Katie weren't planning much of anything for the evening before Super Sunday. Then the phone rang.
It was the Larkins' friends, Mitch and Lisa Johnson, who explained that they had two extra tickets to that night's indoor pro lacrosse game at the Capital Centre. The Larkins had never been to a lacrosse game. They said they'd love to go.
On the way to the game, Mitch mentioned that he'd been listening to WAVA that day. The radio station was promoting an all-expenses-paid trip for two to the Super Bowl in San Diego. The winner was to be chosen at halftime of that night's lacrosse game.
Tim says the two couples laughed about sunny Southern California as they drove along the frigid Beltway. Who ever wins that sort of trip, anyway?
Inside the Cap Centre, Tim Larkin was the only one of his foursome who filled out an entry blank -- and he almost didn't bother. His three companions were giving him a hard time for making them wait. So Tim took the form to his seat, filled it out there, then went back out to the concourse and dropped it in a collection box.
At halftime, WAVA rock jock Shadow Smith came onto center court. A huge barrel was beside him. The barrel accidentally opened as Smith spun it, and forms started spewing all over the place. Tim remembers telling Katie, "Oh, no, that's probably mine."
Smith milked the dramatic moment for everything it was worth. First, he asked everyone in section 110 to stand. Then he asked everyone in Row B to stand. "That's when I really started getting nervous," Tim said.
Then Smith shouted the words, "Seat 5!"
"I exploded," Tim said. "Katie fell off her seat crying, my friends were laughing, and it was probably the happiest moment I can remember, like a dream."
The Larkins were ushered to center court. A limousine was waiting. They were shown two tickets to the next day's game, a continent away. The lacrosse players congratulated them. Nearly 10,000 fans gave them a roaring sendoff. And into the car they got, feeling a little like Cinderella on the way to the ball.
"I'd never even been to a preseason football game," said Tim, who works as an accountant for an interior design company in Northwest. "This was completely unbelievable."
Next stop: the home of Katie's parents, Clint and Marion Kersey in McLean, where the Larkins are living temporarily. Overnight bags were packed in no time flat.
Then it was off to "a beautiful room" in the Crystal City Sheraton, where the Larkins "called up everybody we basically knew. We had to tell our coworkers we couldn't be at a Super Bowl party because we would be at the Super Bowl!"
Several friends didn't believe the Larkins, and demanded to talk to the limo driver. He set them straight.
The next morning, the Larkins flew to Los Angeles. A second limo met them at the airport and drove them down the Pacific Coast to San Diego. As they entered Jack Murphy Stadium a few minutes before kickoff, the weather was 75 degrees and the seats were "perfect."
Tim recognized Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry in the row behind them. The owners of the Buffalo Bills were nearby, too. When Tim told them he had grown up in Buffalo, they offered the Larkins drinks. "Just the impact of the stadium, the colors, sunshine and pageantry really hit that it was all real," Tim recalled.
When the game ended, the Larkins partied for a while with a few whooping Redskins fans. Then it was back into the limo, back to the L.A. airport and onto a red-eye flight to Washington. The Larkins were back at National Airport the next morning. It was less than 36 hours since they had been summoned to center court at the Capital Centre.
The Monday after Super Sunday was Tim's 26th birthday, but he got no presents. His family "didn't know how to compete with all that," said Tim.
But they did know how to jerk his chain. "They keep asking me, 'Where are you going next weekend?' " Tim said.
Bottom line: "It was the experience of a lifetime," Tim said. And in case you're wondering, the Larkins say they're going back to the Cap Centre for a whole lot more indoor pro lacrosse.
John Partridge's 7-year-old grandson Tim Cormick made a big announcement last week: He has decided to become a TV evangelist when he grows up.
John asked Tim what denomination his ministry will be.
"Fifties and hundreds, just like Jim and Tammy," the boy replied.