"Everybody just wears everybody else's clothes in this house," Bonita says. "It gets confusing. One time I just wrote names on everything, to keep down the fights. Well, Brett calls us from Green Bay one day. He got undressed in the locker room. Seems that the word DAD was written across the top of his underpants...."
Blue. Brett decides the shirt must be his. Couldn't be anyone else's. He throws it into his traveling bag. Now he needs to find one more shirt for the trip. Why is the outside world so complicated?
THE HOUSE is on Irvin Farve Road in Kiln, Miss., a dead-end dirt road that finishes at a still stretch of water called Rotten Bayou. On a hot day, of which there are many here, a visitor arrives in a small tornado of red dust. Almost 10 years ago the road was named after Brett's dad, which seemed logical because he was the local high school football and baseball coach, and no one but Favres and their relatives lived on the road anyway. The sign was misspelled, which is not so bad, because that is the way the name is pronounced. People can figure it out.
As for Kiln, the n is dropped by local speakers. The town of 2,000 residents is usually called the Kill. The question would be, "Where does the hottest young quarterback in the NFL live in the off-season?" The answer would be, "The Kill." People can figure it out.
"People say, 'You're the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, and you live at home?' " Brett Favre says. "Well, I could be other places, but I can't think of one I'd rather be. Where else could I have so much fun?"
He is 23 years old and as uncomplicated as a Sunday afternoon. Natural. Where else could he fall out of his water bed every day and land in a family party? His grandmother Mee-Maw lives in that little trailer down the road and makes the best gumbo on the Gulf. (Mee-Maw's real name is Izella French, but Brett and his brothers began calling her Mee-Maw and their other grandmother Maw-Maw when they were little.) There is always someone around who will play a little golf or maybe go over to Biloxi or Gulfport and do a little gambling on one of those new paddleboat casinos. There is always someone around to have a beer, to start a barbecue. Where else is every day the Fourth of July?
"I remember the first long trip I made," Brett says. "Senior year of high school. The class trip. We went from here to New York and Boston. I went to a restaurant, a sandwich place in Boston. The guy said, 'What'll you have?' I told him I guess I'd have a shrimp po'boy. He just looked at me. I tried to explain what a po'boy was. I wound up with a submarine sandwich."
The wheels and gears of the Great American Celebrity Machine are only now starting to turn. There has not been time yet to turn him into a 6' 3", 220-pound plastic package, to make him accustomed to limousine living and large sums of money and every-day fame. Everything is still new. He basically has had one electric season in the NFL, in 1992, when he came off the bench for the Packers in their third game and never sat down again, rejuvenating the team, at one time passing for more than 200 yards in 11 straight games. The team missed the playoffs only on the final Sunday. He wound up in the Pro Bowl. He showed that he could throw the football. Then he came home.
"Reporters would ask me where I got my arm," he says. "I always thought it was from my father, but now I think I got it from my mother. She got mad at me last summer and threw a pastrami sandwich and hit me in the head. Hard. She really had something on that sandwich."
The good things that happened in Green Bay and in assorted other stadiums around the country still seem almost touched with magic. The idea that anyone could come from here—this little place six miles from the Gulf of Mexico, where an occasional alligator pokes its head from the bayou—and wind up famous is borderline fantasy. The Packers have virtually handed their team to Favre. They dumped his competition, Don Majkowski, the hottest young quarterback of three years ago. They went heavy on the free-agent market this off-season, winning the big-money chase for defensive end Reggie White. They are making a run for a division title, making it with a kid quarterback.