Friday, September 2, 2011

Irrational Fandom

I shouldn't write hungover. It sucks. Writing buzzed, on the other hand, leads to epic amazingness. At least until you're hungover and then it just kinda sucks too. It all sucks. Ah. Well. Like that'll stop me.

Since my last football post was sorta meh, at best, you get...MORE FOOTBALL!

Because frankly, that's all that occupies my mind lately. Football football football. My mom texted me today about doing something tomorrow and I almost texted back, "WHY DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF FOOTBALL DAY?! LEAVE ME ALONE!" And then I remembered it was only Thursday, making tomorrow only Friday, and we could do what she wanted. My brain just wants to skip straight to Saturday. I feel like those old JC Penney commercials. "Open open open!"

I'm currently watching Murray State v. Louisville and it. is. glorious. It's a pavlovian response that I suddenly crave whiskey and coke as soon as I see the players running across the football field and hear a marching band. It helps that SF weather kicked in to that feel that my college campus had in the fall. Fog is clearing up and warmth in the air. Which is also a double edged sword: weather finally gets nice just as I plan to spend the next 12 Saturdays parked in front of a TV, usually in a crowded and dark bar somewhere. Ah, well, choices need to be made. I choose football. I'm actually not dedicating my Thursday night to these games. I wasn't that excited about them, honestly. College football is on Saturdays, dammit! Or so says my thirteen years of fandom. But I started watching and I was enthralled. However, I have other plans for tonight so a little Louisville is all I'll see. I'll save the good stuff for Saturday.

My aunt understands. I linked to my favorite LSU pump-up video on the facebook. She called the house earlier and I answered, which is rare. She said, "Are you excited?" Me, "Yeeeesss!" She mentioned seeing my "silly link on that facebook thing, that I don't understand why it shows me some stuff and not others." Old people are cute! (I'm joking, she's not that old.)

I also had her arrange the entire 3 day weekend around football. Every year my family, on the long weekends in the summer, heads to the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa. It's this spectacularly wonderful and cheesy 60s throw back hotel. But mostly it has a huge pool and all my little cousins can swim and frolic in the sun, something SF has a decided lack of during the summer months. On one day of the weekend, we head up there to hang out with them and then go to dinner at Negri's Restaurant. It's a place my grandparents used to go when they were dating. And we, as a family, have been going ever since. Four generations of us have trekked to Occidental to have a family style meal in a town with no cell service. I didn't go Memorial Day weekend and I don't think anyone went 4th of July weekend. But I really wanted to go for Labor Day so a few weeks ago I told my mom, "I know it's early but can you ask Jeanne to do dinner on Sunday night instead of Saturday so I don't have to miss football?" My mom says okay.

But here's the "I must be adopted" thing: My mom comes back to me a few weeks after that and says, "Do you just want to go up on Saturday anyway and you can watch football and we can spend the night?" Now, normally if my mom wants to do something, I acquiesce. I mean, sure, why not? But we've gone up there before on Labor Day weekend with assurances I could watch football and it never works out. Never. They SAY I can watch football but I can't really. They don't understand that it's a 16 hour all day affair where I park myself in front of the TV and don't move, the focus of all my attention. Everyone comes in and out of the hotel room and asks why I'm not outside. Or they tell me to keep it down as I scream at the TV because some toddler or old person is taking a nap. Yeah. No. LSU is actually playing a major matchup on opening weekend, not some cake game. You people are not distracting me or telling me to stop yelling or "Geez Lisa drink less beer!" So no, I won't go up on Saturday instead, sorry.

There is a reason people who love something sporting are called fanatics. It's not driven by sanity but by fanaticism. Come Saturday I will don an LSU shirt, purple and gold socks, earrings, get the idea. Head to toe. I'm already having a minor crisis because I'm not sure I want to put purple shellack on my fingers but I'm worried if I don't, it'll affect the play of my team. WHAT DO I DO?! Cotton candy pink that looks good with my tan or purple? (The answer is purple. I have to go with purple. If I don't and we lost...)

When I was sitting in that room full of sports bloggers in Las Vegas, they brought up the LSU/Tennessee game. I told them I was terrified of Tennessee. On paper, UT is an inferior team. We should beat them. Some would even conjecture we should do so handily. When I said I was afraid of them, all these smart, educated on sports types looked at me like I was crazy. Since I'm a fanatic, yes, I'm a little crazy. This is how the LSU/UT game ended last year. I fully expect no one in Knoxville for the next 100 years is gonna forget that. I also then figure that because of that, UT will use it as fuel and try to beat the hell out of us. Is this rational? Nope. Should it be? Nope. I can't rationally discuss my team. Facts and logic play very little into it. Which, I think it's fair to say, is a departure from my norm. But. This is what it means to me to be an LSU fan.

I am not the delusional optimist kind of fan. You will not hear me talking too much smack before a game. I will likely never yell at an opposing fan, "We're gonna beat the hell out of you!" My taunts are far more generic. Usually just, "Tiger bait! Tiger bait!" (Which in the South really sounds more like "Tiiigahhhh beeeeeet!") Or I will make fun of your mascot. Right now my taunts involve how many different ways you can prepare duck (peking, flambe, confit, roasted...) It is a tradition to come up with some way to serve your opponent while tailgating. LSU plays the Arkansas Razorbacks the day after Thanksgiving. Whole roasted suckling pigs are a tailgating staple that weekend. (I miss Louisiana.)

Back to my fanaticism: we can be playing some cupcake team and I will thoroughly believe we are gonna get our asses kicked. This is the problem with becoming a fan when your team sucks (the DiNardo era) and then watching Les Miles be batshit crazy (though I truly don't believe that. I think he's smart and plays dumb. Or people underestimate him. Or...something). Nick Saban, the coach in the middle, is also notoriously tight lipped and pessimistic about a team. Most coaches are. The respect the opponent line. The never underestimate anyone. The "we play week to week and don't look ahead". I buy it. We lost to UAB when I was at LSU. We lost to the University of Houston. And, really, if you don't know by now, my nature is to fear the jinx and always always expect bad things to happen so it should be no surprise I feel that way about my team. I hope. I have faith. I will wear all the school colors that I can because I, in San Francisco, have some determinable effect on the outcome of the game. But expect a win? Not on your life.

I look forward to Saturday. I look forward to once again hearing the opening chords of pregame and having the hairs on my arms stand up. I look forward to my team taking the field in their white jerseys and gold pants. I will dream all season long of hanging out at tailgates on warm South Louisiana afternoons, waiting for the sun to find its home in the Western sky and my team to run through the tunnel. I'll know that before the team takes the field, the band will play "Hey Baby". I know the cheers for first, second, and third down (I hate Eye of the Tiger and wish we would go back to that other third down cheer). I know that the defensive cheer is the horribly named, but awesomely played, Chinese Bandits.

I'll think of Chuck laughing at Kathryn asking him if the shirt was "too purple" while standing in the LSU bookstore, of Jamie and I rolling our eyes at the idiot girl one of our guy friends brought into the student section who asked who Steve Spurrier was when we were cursing him, and of endless other fall Saturdays where we snuck whiskey into a dry stadium in plastic baggies shoved in our bras.

So really, it's not JUST a game. It's a way of life.


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