I was born in Greater Buffalo, grew up there, returned for a while after college, but have been gone longer than the total years I lived there. Still, if you ask me where I'm from, I say Buffalo.
Buffalo isn’t just a place; it’s a state of mind, a religion, a cultural overlay that works like ethnicity even though it isn’t exactly. It isn’t but it is.
Being Buffalonian is like being Jewish in a the same way that there is an intrinsic and indelible connection between identity, religion, and place. And being Buffalonian outside of Buffalo is like being Jewish in Tehran.
And therein lies the bulk of my experience. The ex-pat. The diaspora. If there is a Jewish bar in Tehran, I can imagine the camaraderie there. Pretty much like what you’d find at the Nickel Bar in Tampa or the Buffalo bars in a hundred other cities that get less snow.
It’s instant kinship. Run into someone with a Bills cap, or t-shirt, or jacket, in the airport, on the beach, in some other city’s stadium when the Buffalo teams are not even playing, and it’s always the same.
It’s like meeting the twin you never knew you had. All you have to do is say "Wide Right," and you’ll keep buying each other drinks until you both need a designated driver.
You can imagine how excited we ex-pats get when the Bills are scheduled for Sunday night or Monday night. At least we get to watch the games at home on our own TV sets and we don’t need Sunday Ticket.
Sunday Ticket is the greatest invention since color TV. The only problem is I can’t get Direct TV from my provider. Fortunately, my son can get it.
I drive 75 minutes to watch at his house most Sundays. I wear my throwback logo baseball cap because it reminds me of the Kemp-Dubenion era when the Bills were the class of the AFL. But not just because of that.
The old grazing Buffalo is pure (as opposed to the flashy, charging one with speedlines).
I wish they’d go back to the old uni’s permanently, like the Jets did. That retro look fits Buffalo in the way Buffalo is eternally retro, always was retro before retro was retro, sort of iconic in a way that’s both quaint and a little musty.
Of course the speeding Buffalo reminds us of the K-gun.
Like I said, I like the retro look.
Back when those were our uniforms-when I was in my pre-teens and just falling in love with the Bills-we had dreams of making the Super Bowl without the accompanying nightmares and the creeping, nagging suspicion that the Bills may have morphed into the Cubs of the NFL.
God, must we wait a 101 years?
So, I'm from Buffalo and once from Buffalo, always from Buffalo. And it's more than just geography. It's biography. It's theology. It's micro-patriotism.
And part of, perhaps almost all of being Buffalonian is being a fan of Buffalo sports, and first of all, the Bills. It would be impossible to be from Buffalo and not be a Bills fan. It would also be nearly impossible to be a Bills fan and not be from Buffalo.
During the Flutie era-if a season and a half is long enough to be an era)-someone wrote an article somewhere suggesting the Bills were the new "America's Team."
Fortunately or unfortunately, that didn't stick.
It seemed trendy to like the Bills when the magical Flutie was doing his miracle, cardiac comebacks.
Everyone in America already felt sorry for the Bills after four straight Super Bowl losses, so having a different team that showed some promise, a quarterback that seemed to be the opposite of cursed, suggested this was a team the nation could get behind.
The "Music City Miracle" ended that. Of course Flutie wasn't playing that day, even though he got us there. Perhaps his magic would have continued the Buffalo miracle had he played; but instead, the Titans' miracle became the latest Buffalo curse.
So, no, it's not easy being Buffalo, even if you're born and bred. But if you are born and bred, you have a birth mark in the shape of that classic Buffalo logo. You don't ask why, and if any one asks why you became a fan, you look at them as if they just got off a UFO.
It's a fate, not a choice. It just is.