“I don’t think I’ve seen that kind of car in thirty-seven years,” eleven year-old Colin said from the back.
“This is the first time I’ve been to Caldwell in thirty-seven years,” Jack said.
It was a day of firsts.
I do feel a little sorry for Mike at the outset of this latest football season. He loves the game, a sentiment none of the rest of us seem to have inherited.
But, in May when he had his latest mini mid-life crisis and quit his job to come work with me, we cut expenses across the board. Sayonara to stuff like cable television and Tivo, and televised football games.
We still get Netflix, though, and electricity, so it’s not like we’ve turned Amish or something.
Last week, Mike sent for an amplified antenna contraption that didn’t look anything like rabbit ears and tinfoil, and with which he’d hoped he could get at least the network stations. But, from where we are, nestled up against a bunch of signal-blocking foothills, even a fancy amplified antenna thingie gets us bupkis.
I think collegiate sports are great, and although I’m not going to gouge my eyeballs out in grief if I miss a big game on television, I enjoy watching in person.
Mike especially likes it when there’s a flag on a play, and I guess loudly that the referee is going to call “face mask” (it’s the only ref sign thingie I know how to make – and I’m really good at it), or come up with my own descriptive words to pass the time:
“Hang on, they’re at the line of cribbage, ready to start the play.”
“Crap-o-rama, I hate it when the quartermaster gets snacked!”
Up until last year, Mike and his dad had season tickets to the local celebrity collegiate team. Our own alma mater – as it happens the celebrity team’s one-time rivals – plays in a stadium about six hours from here, so a jaunt north just to see them hand the game over on a regular basis is inconvenient.
The local team has been doing this crazy winning thing for the past decade or more and garnered a great deal of attention for that and the weirdly blue astroturf lining their stadium. They are fun to watch, even if we secretly get tired of everything in this town revolving around what they might be up to.
Recently, Mike and his dad discovered they were running short of kidneys to sell in order to afford some of the most expensive tickets in the freaking country. They decided to give up one of their absolute favorite shared activities ever, regardless of the team or the color of their turf.
But now, another local college has re-launched their football program after a thirty-seven year hiatus, and here we were, the latest ‘Yote supporters, having dug out whatever purple gear we could find and making the trek out to rural Caldwell, Idaho.
And, to think, before Saturday, I didn’t even know what a ‘Yote was.
The seating was general and by the time we squeezed our way into the sold-out crowd, the only space left was behind the student section. For a while we could actually see over the heads of those standing in front, until the older couple in the next row moved on to find seats that weren’t behind a wall of adolescents on their feet. Another group of students filed in directly in front of us.I braced myself for the fact that they’d probably be standing with their fellow co-eds. Otherwise, how would they be able to see? We might end up cutting things short on our first football outing when Colin decided he was tired of looking directly at people’s backsides.
This was an interesting student body. The college itself is one of the top liberal arts schools in the country, with an enrollment of just over 1,100 and no Greek community.* The kids in front of us weren’t nearly as rowdy as I’d expect in the student section of a collegiate game.
And the group immediately in front of us? They looked back at our row and took their seats. One guy apologized for standing to see a play at the far end of the field, and then encouraged one of his friends, who wanted to stand, to move up a row or two so he wouldn’t block those of us behind.
So, whatever ‘Yotes are, they’re also plenty polite.
I remember our own group of hooligans in the early days after college, gathering for a night at the horse races. A few of us may have been slightly in our cups so to speak, and may or may not have been using language that would make the proverbial sailor blush. I remember turning around at one point and seeing a family with small kids and their parents sitting, aghast, at the new vocabulary they were picking up courtesy of several members of our party.
I’m just saying we wouldn’t have likely had the same experience Saturday had we been sitting behind our younger selves. Every member of that same group has turned into a more or less productive, law-abiding citizen, In case you’re curious. Probably still, to a one, each a master at colorful language, but whatever.
So, the ‘Yotes won by a field goal in a great game, we got to watch, in person, without having to sell a major organ, our kids got to see some great examples of polite college students.
And there’s a beer garden in the end zone in which we’re looking forward to spending some time in the future.
All this and the occasional train passing in the distance.
* UPDATE: I’ve been told here is a Greek community at the college, a fact which was not made apparent to me in the course of my exhaustive research which consisted of trying to remember if I saw any Greek letters on shirts at the game, and also looking at the organization’s home page online for a total of seven seconds. Apologies.
There, wasn’t that worth a vote or two? At least one a day keeps me out of the beer garden… Just kidding. NOTHING keeps me out of the beer garden.
Anyway, thank you.