We apologize for the sporadic Commenter Of the Week voting and posting lately. But we don't apologize for Clarence Swamptown's fine effort, which also will serve as the final post of the day since we're heading out in the rain for the next few hours. Please do enjoy. Clarence?

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Occasionally my family and I spend some time at the Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul.

This is an incredibly sad trip. I look around, counting my blessings and selfishly thanking God that these people are not us. Then I curse God for allowing people to suffer such pain and misery. And then I am done driving through [suburb X was redacted to avoid hurting their feelings and potentially costing us one of our many sponsors].

Once we get to the hospital, there are truly heartbreaking images the minute we walk in the door. Our most recent visit to Gillette started like all the others. You want to be full of hope and optimism that everything will be alright, but hospital waiting rooms are unpleasant and hospital waiting rooms full of exceptionally sick children are on a whole different unpleasantness level. We try to kill time by walking around the hospital with my daughter (who is not nearly as sick as most of the children, thankfully), exploring the different wings and generally trying to keep her mind busy.

We were walking through the entrance lobby smiling at the nurses and reception staff and just killing time (everyone who works there is awesome and deserves some sort of awesomeness medal). Suddenly the ENTIRE MINNESOTA VIKINGS CHEERLEADING SQUAD WALKED THROUGH THE FRONT DOORS WITH BALLOONS AND PIZZA AND TOYS AND MORE PIZZA. It was one of the most unexpected and awesome 180-degree-turn moments in the history of everything.

My daughter’s eyes lit up because she loves cheerleaders and toys and balloons. My eyes lit up because I love cheerleaders and free pizza. They set up a room where the kids could play games and win prizes and eat pizza and get their pictures taken with the cheerleaders. Vikings cheerleaders smell terrific, by the way. Almost as good as the pizza.

I’m sure they do this kind of community involvement stuff all the time, but for us it was an unanticipated surprise that provided a small window of happiness into an otherwise depressing occasion. I subscribe to the Marthaler-ian doctrine of Vikings fandom. We start most seasons with varying amounts of hope and optimism, while preparing ourselves for the dark and depressing things to come.

We knew this team would be good, but the Vikings’ year to date has provided some unexpected moments to a fan base more accustomed to heartbreak than last minute victories. We are still prepared for the other shoe to drop. In the meantime I would like to thank Brett Favre, Jared Allen, The Beard™, and Greg Lewis for delivering figurative balloons and toys and pizza and providing a small window of happiness into a season that we all know will crash and burn in historic fashion. Thanks again guys, for now.