Tag: alcohol

That Time I Watched Live Football and ESPN Filmed Me

(Writing from 2009.)

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My husband David and I left our son with his beloved grandparents yesterday, and made the road trip to Norman, Oklahoma to watch OU play Texas Tech. The husband graduated from OU, so Boomer Sooner! is oft-chanted around these parts.

We got to walk around his old college stomping grounds. He was awash in nostalgia but kept his promise to not tell me about every sandwich he ate with whom at this place and that, like he does since we moved from Los Angeles.

(We now reside in his home town, and because he grew up here, he has memories. Oh, so many memories. After about six months of, “And that used to be a field,” I found myself sarcastically thinking, “Okay, Grandpa Dave. A lot has changed and you did a lot of different things here way back when. I get it.” It has become a personal joke of ours—he starts talking about some experience from twenty-plus years before, and this is my cue to mock him with some sort of, “And then you ate a sandwich right there, under that tree, with your old friends Dick Tickle and Randy McNuttlicker,” type of comment.) (He doesn’t regret marrying a smart-ass. Not at all.) (No, really.)

The campus was swarming with people carrying beers; anticipation and cigarette smoke filled the air. This was a huge game, as undefeated Texas Tech was number two, and beating them would no doubt raise number five OU in the college football rankings. A victory would be very, very good.

It was really crowded, and after receiving about five shoulder bumps from strangers, I made it clear to David that I would really like to have one of those bottles of tranquilizer everyone seemed to be holding, please. I’m high-strung (you say neurotic, I say tomato… juice with vodka, damn it) and a bit jumpy, so I don’t do well in large gatherings.

To satisfy my thirst for liquid courage, we stopped at Brothers, a bar my husband frequented in college. It was a dark little place with drawing paper on every table, artwork crafted by past students attached to the yellowed ceiling tiles. The one above us was drawn by some military fellows and featured Gumby riding a missile with a poem about getting that bad guy Khadafi.

There were also collages all over the walls featuring thousands of tiny photographed drunken twenty-something faces. My husband pointed to an area by some booths and said, “The picture of my friend and me is over there somewhere,” and I showed amazing restraint, refraining from making my tired sandwich-eating joke. We contemplated walking over to ask the people in the crowded booths if we could look for my husband in the pictures, but decided not to be those people. He went to the bar and bought a shirt instead.

Here we are at Brothers:

I’m already drunk in this picture. The smirk is your first clue.

 

Two beers and some fries later, I was feeling really good. The booze eased me directly into going-with-the-flow mode and my social anxiety was gone. Thank you, beer, for your years of service. I don’t know what I’d do without you (besides sweat and startle constantly in public with crazed eyes, searching for an escape route or potential weapon, I mean).

We meandered through the other drunks. I only occasionally worried about my child when I saw little boys in the crowd to remind me of him. If you have one, think back on the first few times you’ve left your kid for an entire day and night, and you will understand. (Those of you without children, just know that having a child means you will never have your brain to yourself again for more than little half-hour chunks at a time. Their well-being and present place in the world consumes you. Forever. It’s pretty heavy.)

We found the Billy Simms statue on campus that stands where my husband’s college rental party house once stood and took his picture next to it. (At least it didn’t used to be a fucking field, right? Yawn.) The statue is so gigantic it dwarfed my 6’5″ husband.

See how it dwarfs him? Dwarfs, I tell you:

Dwarfs. I really just wanted to say it one more time.

 

David’s cell phone rang and it was one of his buddies, also in town for the game. He invited us to join them at the “Sig Ep Tailgate Party,” so off we went.

The party was actually on campus under a tent near the Sig Ep house. I wasn’t Greek in college and have no idea what Sig Ep is short for, so I’m just going to keep calling it that, okay? (Sigma Epsilon?) (Signaling Epilepsy?) (Significant Episiotomy?) There was food, beer and every type of liquor imaginable. People were doing shots. They offered shots to me and I laughed out loud. I am of the Shots Are For Young, Childless People mindset, but thanks.

My husband’s friend pointed out the vegetarian chili to me, but just coming off the carbo-bloat of two beers and some fries, I declined. I did help myself to a beer from the beer trough, however. Yes, beer trough. The big metal containers intended for providing water to livestock. We had them on our farm. I always get a kick out of seeing them used in other ways.

I had two beers and trotted my teeny little bladder over to the nearby Sig Ep house to pee twice. It felt just like college, sans date rape. I later regretted the decision to skip food for more alcohol, as I have the tolerance of an Amish eight-year-old, but soon it was time to head for the stadium. We bundled up in the warm things we’d brought and started our walk.

I walked behind my husband and the neighbor; his lifelong friend had an arm around me as we followed them. It was very sweet. I adore every one of his friends. If you can judge a person by their friends, I chose my mate wisely. My husband has kept the same group of guy buddies from childhood, and I think it is the most amazing, precious thing. I honestly don’t remember what we talked about, but spirits were high and we were giggling like buzzed teenagers when we parted for our separate seating areas.

David decided to use the restroom once we got in the stadium. I berated him for not using the line-free Sig Ep bathroom before we walked and he whined about “maximizing his pee removal” by waiting until the very last minute to go. Sigh. He got in line and I waited against a cement pillar by the entrance.

His bathroom journey allowed me fifteen minutes alone to be hit on by a guy in a brown fringed leather jacket.

“Do they pay you to stand here and look pretty during the games?” he asked.

“Are you calling me a WHORE?” I spat in reply, right before I punched him in the trachea. He fell to the ground, coughing and clutching at his throat.

Okay, that last part didn’t happen. But he did hit me up with that cheesy line. My actual reaction was to repay him for his cheesiness with the frozen smile of polite terror that I seem to have perfected in this lifetime, and he walked away. It’s a living.

The husband came back and I told him Bon Jovi just tried to pick me up. He laughed at me and my good fortune. We headed to our seats, which were only eight rows up from the field. Cool. We watched the players come running onto the field. The crowd absolutely roared. And I’m not just using fun words to describe noise; it was insanely loud in the stadium last night.

The OU coach, Bob Stoops, issued a challenge by stating to the press that he didn’t think OU fans could be loud enough to affect this game. That was a really smart move on his part. The “Oh no he didn’t just say that” factor can really motivate the masses sometimes. Nothing makes us want to do something like being told we can’t; it’s human nature. (This is why playing hard to get totally works. Give it a try sometime and watch them fall under your spell.)

It was amazing, the energy in the place. All those people cheering for the same thing. Oh, if we humans could only unite over other issues facing us the way we do over sports. But I don’t care if it was “just” football, I have to say it, I had goosebumps all night long. It was so exciting to be a part of it.

The team coming onto the field:

Do you feel it?

 

Then the ass-kicking began. Poor previously undefeated Texas Tech didn’t stand a chance. The raucous crowd of nearly 86,000 was obviously getting to them psychologically. They played “Jump Around” and we jumped around. They said “Make some noise!” and we did. I gave myself a headache, screaming so long and hard. (You are allowed to giggle whenever I type “long and hard” by the way. It’s okay. We’re all friends here.)

There was a Texas Tech player, a big guy with tattoos on his arms and major face paint, who was taunting the OU fans at one point and trying to get his own team ready for battle. The OU fans purposefully drowned him out with shouting and yelling. “Shut up, Braveheart,” I commented dryly to my husband. The angry player soon pulled the helmet over his colorful head and gave up.

We saw Brian Bosworth walking along the sidelines. My husband did a loud Will Ferrell as Harry Carey voice, “Hey! I just saw the BOZ,” and all of the males in the vicinity turned and laughed at him. He’s a bit of a ham, the husband.

The BOZ:

That’s the back of Brian Bosworth’s head, between the long-haired girl and the dude in yellow. He walked with arrogant purpose. Cocky. It made me dislike him instantly.

 

We also saw the stoner kid from American Idol, (Jason Castro, I want to call him? I’ll Google it.) (Okay I Googled, and I guess he’s from Texas, so maybe that’s why he was here? We thought he might be hanging out with David Cook.) He was standing on the sidelines and they put him on the big screen for a second. We found him in real life on the sideline, walking with a girl. They were holding hands. She wore a brown messenger bag. Probably not full of weed or anything. Nope.

I am often fascinated by the little worlds within worlds; the subcultures of which we are unaware unless we are immersed in them. The cheerleaders got my attention this time. I found myself watching them between plays, wondering if the boys were dating the girls, or maybe dating the boys, and studying their interactions with each other.

One cheerleader seemed sad, and she was the only one without the big fake clown smile plastered on constantly. She already had multiple worry lines furrowed across her forehead, even though she looked to be about fourteen. I named her Sad Cheerleader in my head and wanted to hug her. I wondered what could make such an adorable person so miserable. Maybe the cute jeans she wanted only came in a humongous size two? Did she get assigned the wrong cheerleader boy to lift her and throw her about? Maybe the one she had a crush on was tossing another girl into the air?

I watched Insecure Cheerleader, a blond who wasn’t quite as anorectic as the others; she self-consciously flipped the waistband of her pants down to minimize her belly as she was being lifted into the air. She fidgeted with her waistband constantly. I thought “Wow, I would think you’d have bigger things to worry about as you are being chucked into the atmosphere,” But then I realized that the maneuver was probably like brushing her teeth, she’s done it so much.

There were two cheerleaders that I am sure were sleeping together, Flirty Cheerleader and Straight Boy Cheerleader. They kept bumping into each other and other such grade school grab-assery. It was entertaining to watch. I decided that cheerleaders probably have fantastic sex, what with all the gymnastic training and flexibility.

The Game Day guys from ESPN were at the game, and we saw them filming on the sidelines. We also got on television, if you were watching early in the game, when the cameras scanned the crowd. Luckily we record every game, so we found the exact moment and took pictures of the television to send to our relatives. I’ll post those at the end of this blog. I’m wearing my new black parka. Try to contain yourselves. I’ve wanted a parka for around nine years now, and finally realized this dream in time for the OU game. I know, I know. Congratulations are in order. Right after you check out my sweet parka goodness.

The Game Day guys, filming:

Yeah, um, dude in the blue stocking cap? Vincent Gallo called. He wants his sneer back. Thanks.

 

The game was an absolute blow-out, in case you don’t follow college football—Oklahoma 65, Texas Tech 21. Just brutal. Afterwards, Coach Stoops walked over to the student section and bowed, then gave them a game ball. He was quoted in the paper as saying, “That’s the way fans should be. I’ve always envisioned a loud and raucous crowd to influence a game, and they sure did tonight.”

The scoreboard from hell, or heaven, depending on your allegiance:

‘Nuff said.

 

We got home around 1:30 a.m. so my husband is taking a nap right now along with my son. We had a really great time, so I wanted to share my latest “sports from a female perspective” story. I haven’t done this since the PGA tournament last year, so it was high time. (Somewhere out there, Jason Castro’s ears just perked up and he doesn’t know why. “High time? Wait… what? Get your messenger bag, babe.”) I hope you had a wonderful weekend as well, my friends.

I’m the average-looking redhead in the really incredible parka with the faux fur hood. My husband is next to me in white. He refused to stop watching the game to ham it up for the camera. He also asked me to clarify that he does not weigh 275 pounds as it appears, he is merely wearing four layers of clothing for warmth.

 

Note: the lady to the left of me. She was sitting a row down from me, but hopped up to wave her arms in front of me for the camera. That smile on my face is the carefully disguised rage of a woman whose shining moment is in danger of being usurped. Do not usurp my shining moment, bitch!

 

Don’t you wish your parka was hot like mine?

 

Hey, look at my mom, the Attention Whore! Isn’t she funny?

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Something Shimmering and White

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It was one of those transitional periods on the Timeline of Me. I was unhappily exploring the post-divorce state of flux through which 60% of all married people must statistically travel. Unoriginally as the thousands of country music songs on the subject might imply, I was using alcohol as my navigational system.

Having failed at what trendy writers would flippantly dub my starter marriage, I was looking for something; the next good thing. I didn’t really know what it was yet, so I hoped I’d know it when I found it, and wouldn’t be too drunk to say hello.

There was a party house in our smaller college town that my friends and I often called home. It was one of those lovely, interesting-but-crumbling Victorians with high ceilings and windows full of old glass that seemed thicker at the bottom, time-melted over the view of the past.

The homeowner was an older musician with a free spirit and a lot of weed. There was a steady river of alcohol moving through the house, along with the streams of young, searching girls, trying to find themselves by getting lost. In simpler words; I fit in perfectly.

On this night, a large group of us had watched a touring band play their music at a local bar. The band came back to the party house with us to drink and be merry. Cigarettes were smoked, music was turned up, neighbors were tolerant. I found myself sitting in a corner with the guitar player of the band, drinking beer and effortlessly talking. We were clicking as intellectually as slobbering drunks might click, and he seemed like a really nice guy.

While we chatted, we got on the subject of music. He asked me if I liked a band called The Church, and agreed when I enthusiastically told him that their song Under the Milky Way was one of my top ten songs ever. It is a wistful, moody, gorgeous song that I still love to this day.

This was mentioned in passing, one topic in a series of many, and we didn’t dwell. Conversation moved onward, and soon, he did too. Someone joined our discussion, and under the guise of getting another beer, the guitar player I’d been talking with left the party. His sudden disappearance registered briefly, but I kept drinking, and like most coherent thoughts, the event was washed away in the tide of alcohol.

The party wound down. The owner of the house had extra beds, and being in no shape to drive, I was offered one. I gratefully accepted and stumbled to the spare room.

I had just settled under the covers to pass out when I heard a knock at the door. I sleepily asked who was there as the guitar player from earlier poked his head in the room. He was holding an acoustic guitar and asked to come in. I said that would be okay, and he walked in, sitting down on the edge of my bed. I sat up against my pillow, the wall behind me nobly bearing my beer-relaxed muscles and hothouse flower demeanor.

It was one of those very moonlit nights when the world feels like daytime soaked in honey, and I could see his face clearly. He noticed my curious glance at the acoustic guitar and explained that after we talked, he had gone to the band van and learned a song for me. I somewhat numbly took in what he was saying, not really comprehending what was happening. He stopped talking and started playing the guitar softly.

Sometimes when this place gets kind of empty, sound of their breath fades with the light, I think about the loveless fascination, under the Milky Way tonight,” he sang quietly.

It was the song I had mentioned earlier; the pretty song I loved by The Church—now a lullaby for a lonely, drunken girl. The lyrics couldn’t have been more appropriate for me at that place in time; feeling small, meaningless and alone as one does standing under an endless night sky, wishing I knew what I was looking for, like the chorus repeated.

The subtle performance was a heart-wrenchingly earnest auditory hug. It didn’t feel like a flashy musician’s attempt to dazzle his way into my pants, it felt like an offering; like a little, hopeful flicker of candle light to hold inside when I was feeling dark.

After he finished, I slurred that it was absolutely beautiful. He smiled, tucked me back under the covers and told me to sleep well. He then left the room without attempting so much as a goodnight kiss, preserving the moment as something I would always remember fondly, rather than becoming just another groping stranger I would try to forget.

The next day we all woke up hung-over and rumpled to have coffee, with the friendly morning banter of people bonded through vices of the night before. Before the guitar player got in the band van to drive to the next town on tour, he handed me a CD of his band’s music. We hugged in silence, and they drove away.

I later opened the CD to find he’d written a message. It said, “You have the most amazing aura I’ve ever seen.” It made me cry, because at that point in my young, dysfunctional life, I couldn’t believe someone would say something so sweet to me without ulterior motive; with nothing to gain.

He had achieved the nearly impossible; he’d made a sad, insecure girl feel special and appreciated as a human being. This stranger I’d known one night had managed to do something more romantic, thoughtful and selfless than the guy I was drinking to forget had ever done in the years we were together.

I have kept the CD as a reminder of the worthiness of my soul all these years, occasionally pulling it out during moves to open, read, and carefully pack into my nostalgic belongings. I never spoke to the guitar player who gave it to me again, but when I think about that night, I smile, and sincerely hope he has had a wonderful life.

 

*The video for Under the Milky Way, by The Church:

 

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(Photo credit: “Milky Way Road” by Landolfi… please contact me for removal, or to share a link to this talented photographer. I think this picture is gorgeous.)