My favorite Washington memory is The Bandwagon.
Really, Tony, your favorite moment revolves around you? I'm shocked.
Oh, it's supposed to revolve around Wilbon?
As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, my favorite memory is The Bandwagon. Not the season of The Bandwagon, not the games themselves--the actual Bandwagon, the RV we drove to the Super Bowl in Minneapolis: Me, my friend Nancy and Man About Town Chip Muldoon. (Chip had won the Lucky Fan contest by using 25 words or less to say why he wanted to drive to Minneapolis. Chip wrote: "I've got nothing better to do for the next three days.")
It was a huge RV--maybe 30 feet long, and decorated on both sides with enormously intricate and hideously garish burgundy and gold artwork proclaiming "I'm On The Bandwagon." (As if anybody might otherwise think we were on Air Force One.) In the front were two plush sunken seats for the drivers. On the passenger's side in the midsection of the RV was a table with facing bench seats. There was another long bench by the windows on the driver's side. In the back was a full bedroom with a king-size bed. The RV sucked gas like a rhino. We got six miles to the gallon. We spent so much time in gas stations I got to be on a first-name basis with Mr. Goodwrench. It's Earl.
We left early in the morning from The Post parking lot on 15th Street. I was quite excited to be going on this historic road adventure. I felt like Charles Lindbergh would have felt--if he were afraid to fly. Chip was somewhat anxious, because in his haste to be on time he left the water running in his bathtub. Nancy was, um, drunk. Okay, she wasn't technically drunk. That was the night before, when she attended an elaborate birthday party with a Caribbean theme and lots of exotic, spiked fruit drinks. Now she was queasy. I was surprised, because we had been planning this trip for months.
"What prompted you to get loaded?" I asked her.
"It finally dawned on me that I was actually going to be in an RV for three days, driving through thousands of godforsaken miles, having to go to the bathroom at gas stations," Nancy said. "So it was either kill myself or drink."
"Oh," I said.
No sooner were we off and running than Nancy's head began to spin.
I told her to go into the back of the RV and try lying down on the bed. She came back in less than a minute, holding her hand to her mouth like she was going to be sick.
"What happened?" I asked in a panic.
Nancy just pointed toward the bedroom and gestured for me to go in.
I walked to the rear of the RV, sat on the bed, then lay back. The swaying motion was overwhelming. We seemed to be fishtailing all over the road. I felt like I was on the Tea Cup ride at Kings Dominion. Nauseated, I ran from the room.
We spent the rest of the ride clinging to the front of The Bandwagon. (Chip suggested we rent out the bedroom to newlyweds on a tight budget.)
As you might suspect, going 1,092 miles in a bench seat can get rather tedious--especially when there's not a decent Thai restaurant on the highway once you reach Ohio. So to pass the time, Nancy, Chip and I had fascinating esoteric discussions, such as: "Is there some way of determining beforehand whether a chicken unknown to you will lay a brown egg or a white egg?" And we played cutting edge games, like, "Dead Or Alive?" A heated debate over Victor Borge lasted more than 200 miles. I was unmovable in my insistence Borge was mort. Remember, this was January 1992, so imagine my surprise when Borge received one of the Kennedy Center Honors awards recently.
We drove through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota in The Bandwagon. The farther away from Washington we got, of course, the fewer people knew what The Bandwagon was--they just looked at our giant, decorated RV, and assumed we were a traveling band of freaks.
Some people might reckon the best moment of all was rolling into Minneapolis and spotting the Metrodome, where the Super Bowl would be played. And that was good, because, after all, that is what it's all about, isn't it? That is what we played the whole season for--that, and the open bar at the media hotel.
But actually, my favorite moment was tip-toeing on the solid sheet of ice that was the driveway of our cinder-block motel in Elkhart, Ind., the first night of the trip, and seeing the sign on the marquee that said, "Welcome To Our VIP of the Day: Tony Cornhiser." (I got top billing over the hotel's welcome to "Combined Insurance Co. of America.") As VIP of the Day, I was entitled to "complimentary fruit in the room," and when I opened the door to my room, there it was on the bed: A single apple, frozen solid as a rock in the Indiana night. I vowed to carry it with me forever.
But the next day I got hungry. The apple thawed in the van, and I ate it by Chicago.
Tony Kornheiser has covered sports for The Washington Post since 1979.