Monday, November 7, 2011

LSU v Bama

Did you guys know about the game of the century? That completely isn't, because we're only 11 years into the century? If you follow my Twitter account or my Facebook you did. You had to. Because it's all I could think/talk/comment about all week. If you are living under a rock and didn't read anything from any major media outlet in the week preceding it, let me 'splain: LSU, then ranked #1 in the whole country, was taking on the University of Alabama, then ranked #2, under the lights of Bryant-Denney Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL.

This game was such a giant deal that CBS negotiated with ESPN to have the rights to broadcast it at night. People were selling tickets on Stubhub for obscene amounts of money.

I had actual nightmares about the game. In one nightmare I had my nails shellacked red at game time and I couldn't get it off in time for kickoff and panicked that this would cause my team to lose. In others I couldn't get to the bar or there was nowhere to sit at the bar and it all caused me lots of anxiety. I spent my waking hours reading about the game and thinking about how the pass protection would work and how in the name of all that is holy we were gonna stop the beast that is Trent Richardson. I had visions of houndstooth, which is becoming as annoying as creamsicle orange. I fretted and worried and was anxious. Football fandom: it's an illness.

My worries were not for nothing. Saturday was...kind of a disaster. I mean, we won, and that's awesome. We get to breathe easy for a moment before we don't overlook the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and then face a current #9 Arkansas team the day after Thanksgiving, games that sandwich a road trip to Oxford to take on Ole Miss who would be happy to play spoiler. Get through those three games and then we play in Atlanta in the SEC Championship game against, most likely, Georgia. And though we're the number one team in the country that a) means you have a giant target on your back and b) you can get lax and slip up. *deep breath* Being a fan is really fraught for me. So much so that I almost cried when an hour ago I thought I lost one of my lucky LSU earrings. Fortunately I figured out where it was, but more on that in a bit...

First: it was game day. And I was stoked. But I was so stoked I'd worked myself into a tizzy and was a giant ball of anxiety. I was yelling at everyone and everything which mostly meant the dogs because I'm home alone. I couldn't relax. I was completely on edge. My (expensive ass Mac) computer is broken, my credit card isn't working/need to call the company, the dogs were being needy...all the little things were suddenly insurmountable. But also not needing to be dealt with right that second so I tried to just take a deep breath and enjoy watching game day.

I had plans to meet Cheryl in North Beach at 3:30. The plan was to get a late lunch and then be at the bar at 4, which would, based on past precedence, be plenty of time to grab a seat and settle in for the game. I got ready for the game, donning what has become my LSU outfit for game days, which I have to wear the exact same of every game day for fear of the jinx. I mean EXACT. Yes, I'm that insane. I flat ironed my hair, which I rarely do because this game is special and put seven different things on my eyes alone to get my over the top purple LSU look. Being a girl is hard.

And because being a girl is hard, I was, naturally, running late. But so was Cheryl. Which I could have predicted. I get to North Beach around 3:45 and park. I discover that the bar is already packed so make my way straight there. What I hadn't anticipated about THE GAME OF THE CENTURY is that it wouldn't just be the regular LSU fans at the bar, but their five best friends. And then a bunch of interlopers who just want the best game watching environment. Where showing up an hour early to the four other games I watched there had guaranteed me "my" table in the back, I was now left standing in the middle of the bar with no clear view to any of the TVs. And I was still amped up anxious. As such, I immediately grabbed a beer and a Jameson on the rocks. I just needed to relax! I'm guarding our little corner of the bar world now, with ledge for drinks and a hook for our purses when Cheryl makes her way in and finds me. She tells me I look really pretty, which is always great to hear, and then says she can't drink her beer because she hasn't eaten all day. She's tiny, so I get it. I am not tiny but also hadn't eaten since I had bacon and eggs around 11. It's 4:30. Wanna guess how bad of an idea this would be? If you guessed "Very!" you're the big winner.

The bar is insane packed. It's not even fun. Getting a drink is impossible and that's for me, who is actually friendly with the staff. Cheryl, who is a few inches shorter than me, really can't see and it's still a good 20 minutes 'til kickoff. I debate leaving and heading elsewhere right then but because I am so freaking superstitious, I figure we'll stay for at least kickoff before leaving. I buy another round. Cheryl goes and procures red beans and rice. There seem to only be 8' tall guys in every direction, which is hysterical because Chuck swears every male from the state of Louisiana is no taller than 5'6". I end up chatting with a couple different guys, because this is what I do, one of whom says he's just there with his grad school roommate because he doesn't have a college team and his friend went to undergrad at LSU. I ask what his grad school was and he says University of Chicago. I concur that while liberal, UChicago does not, in fact, have a football team. The former Stanford swimmers I also talk to are adorable but find somewhere else to settle. The USC alums are tall, obnoxious, and completely in my way. I hate USC. (So Cal, not South Carolina.)

The game kicks off and I'm screaming with all my LSU people, chatting with strangers, and because I am an excellent bar patron, cleaning empties off the ledge as people leave them, throwing bottles into the garbage can that's in our corner and pushing glasses on to the bar. Suddenly Cheryl grabs on to the garbage can and says she isn't feeling well. UChicago guy looks at me and says, "Is she okay?" I say, "Um. I don't think so." To be clear, she has at this point had two sips of beer and half a bowl of red beans and rice. She is NOT drunk. I think she's gonna throw up. Suddenly she faints. FAINTS! Out cold. On the ground of the bar. I look helplessly at the UChicago guy and say "Can you help me!?!" She's tiny so it's not even a weight thing I'm just like "AHHH!" He grabs her and we're holding her up. Did I mention we are dead center in the middle of a bar that comfortably holds about 150 people but now has twice that in there? This other guy comes over and asks what's going on and I say "She just fainted!" He tells me he's a paramedic and him and UChi carry her out of the bar, me trailing.

I was annoyed at all the people looking at her making "Oh! Someone can't hold their liquor!" faces because it wasn't true. I mean, I get it, totally valid, but I just didn't want my friend judged that way when that's not what happened.

They get her outside, which was so fantastic of them and I was so grateful and I wonder if I should call the paramedics, but now that she's got fresh air she's definitely perking up and got her color back. When she fully comes to she says, "What happened?" I say, "You fainted! In the middle of the bar!" She says, "Oh yeah. That happens. Just usually I'm at home." !@$*(!@&*&$# What?! You should not just occasionally "faint". But I don't argue that point with her at the moment. I'm concerned about her well being. She tells me paramedics are unnecessary but I still have to get her home. She's not driving, clearly, and she's definitely not driving to the party in the East Bay she's supposed to go to later. We have to leave. Now. I make my way back in and grab my purse, which I had left behind, give the two full beers to a stranger, and make my way back out through the throng of people. I leave my credit card because I just don't even want to deal with closing out my tab at the moment. It seems unimportant and I know the bartenders so it'll be fine.

I drive Cheryl home and get her all settled in her apartment and order her to sleep, eat something, take a multivitamin. Keep in mind that all the while the game is going on. The game I've been anxious about for a week. The game I had nightmares about. And I'm missing it. My nightmares paled in comparison to what was actually happening.

After Cheryl is taken care of, I'm headed to Bar None, which is a mere two blocks from her apartment. But I hadn't parked when I tucked her in bed. I just double parked in front of her building. So now I'm trying to find a parking place. In the Marina. At 6 on a Saturday evening. In the rain. People are driving like idiots and are everywhere. There are no spots. I'm having a mini temper tantrum meltdown in the car, thisclose to tears because I just want to watch my freaking football game! I get that this isn't Cheryl's fault, I'm glad she's okay, I'm not mad at her, just the circumstances in general are suckage.

I'm standing in Bar None now realizing why I don't often go there on Saturday nights and never for nighttime football. I'm trying to mother fucking watch the game and this was quite the trial. I sprinted (okay fine, ran without busting my ass on the wet pavement, but fast for me) the three blocks from my car to the bar. I post myself at the bar and tell Matty, my bartender BFF, about my anxiety and order a beer and a Jameson rocks (lesson still not learned with Jameson, part 1 million). I'm standing next to a guy I talked to 2 weeks ago when we were day drinking for the Auburn game. He has no recollection of me but I'm gonna guess he'd been drinking all day and that he's quite lit. I know he bets endlessly on football. As I'm there, these girls, TOTAL Marina girls (read: skinny, bitchy, drunk) start in with him because he won't give up his stool to one of them. All the stools have been pulled from the bar in anticipation of it being packed for the evening. He says to them, "Why should I give it up?", which was completely fair. And they get all finger wagging, about him being "decent" and such. He's on the left of me, and they've posted on the other side of me as I'm just trying to watch the game. And now they're yapping at him OVER me about what a jackass he is. I finally turn to the one girl and say, "Look, he's been here all day drinking, so you being logical is useless. And he's good friends with the bartenders. You might just want to drop it." She gives me the "you're cool" thing, because I'm being honest, I guess? and moves on to another target. They wanted his stool because the one girl had just had surgery and was wearing a boot on her foot. This girl would later colossally bust her ass while standing at the bar, spilling beer everywhere and looking to be the hot mess she was. Maybe you should stay home if you JUST had surgery? Maybe?

After that, the drunk guy has a bunch of other people coming up to him and they keep bumping into me and getting in my space. One of them is another super drunk girl in a throwback Pat Patriot sweatshirt. She orders tater tots, closes out her tab, and then promptly disappears, leaving her credit card in the bill cover just sitting on the bar. As I'm getting bumped and people are taking my focus from the game and being obnoxious (I'd ask how they were all so sloshed at 6 p.m. but I've been there so...) I look at Matty and say, "I'm just gonna warn you now that I may very well punch someone in a few minutes. Just, fair warning, mkay?" He just laughs at me and tells me to go ahead. Guys are non-plussed by my threats of violence, apparently. Also, everyone is texting me. My dad, my brother, my brother's girlfriend. PEOPLE! THERE IS A FOOTBALL GAME ON! Unless there has been a death that I need to be aware of, save it 'til later. I appreciate the support but unless it's half time, stop. Though I did laugh at my dad texting me "Fuck Trent Richardson!" His five minutes of football knowledge are amazing. He would later tell me that he thought he jinxed it because he had no idea what a complete beast Trent Richardson is. Uh. Yeah.

I'm still alone, still standing at the bar, still cheering my team, still anxious. I have finished my second (and a half. One got knocked over by a stupid LSU decoration at Northstar) Jameson rocks but I don't want any more. Until Matty walks by and just refills my glass. Geezus, seriously? I mean, free alcohol, no complaints but even I know better. I order fries.

And then I have THE most annoying exchange of the evening. I'm screaming at the television, as I am known to do, when this girl comes up on my left, where the drunk guy had been and says, "Who you cheering for? Cal?" Um, no. "Oh, the Lakers?" She made this leap because of the purple and gold, I guess. I tell her no, LSU. "Oh, but they have the same colors as the Lakers?" That is a stunning observation. I say something about how the Lakers actually have the same colors as LSU, considering we've been in existence, oh, about 100 years longer than the Lakers. This goes over her head. I also don't think 'til later that I could have explained to her that the NBA is currently not playing due to a lockout but that's probably a bit much for some girl who doesn't know her football from her basketball.

I'm obviously watching the game. I'm wearing a shirt that has a giant LSU on the back and a small LSU on the front. Stop. Talking. To. Me. She says, "Well my boyfriend would like you since you like a team with the same colors as the Lakers." Um, okay? Then she makes a throwing motion and says, "Football goes like that, right?" You're KILLING me, chick. Just KILLING me. This. This is why men think all women know nothing about sports. This is also why being a fan in California is difficult. No one really GETS it. Because she was the most blatant stupid conversation, but certainly not the only one I had that evening. Note: Bar None for night kicks? Never again. Though I appreciate that it's not as overcrowded as Northstar was. I also love that when I tweeted about this idiot girl and my hatred of fandom in California, my college roommate's mom immediately picked it up and empathized. Love you, Miss SJ!

At the same time I'm being engaged by this chick, the tater tots that Pat Patriot girl has ordered come out and are abandoned, along with her credit card, on the bar. Non sports knowing chick asks me about them and says, "Whose are those?" I say they belong to some blonde girl who walked away, but I don't know who she is, I just know she has a Patriots sweatshirt on if you feel like finding her. I should have known better. I should have. But I'm STILL TRYING TO WATCH MY GAME and just want this girl gone. "What's a 'patriot'?" A team from New England. "What's a pat patriot look like?" She's in a grey sweatshirt with red and blue logo of a guy on the left side. "Huh?" Go. Away. Just...seriously already. She and her equally drunk friend finally stop bumping into me and go flit off to bother someone else. Thank merciful god. Because the stupid? It burns.

But things start to get better. I start talking with some cool people at the bar who actually know a thing or two about football. A drunk kid who is from Knoxville and went to UT but has family in Baton Rouge is fist pumping me and talking football. A guy in an OKState hat but not an actual OKState fan is there with his friend and we talk a bit. My brother and his girlfriend arrive. I've had just enough alcohol to feel good. My friends David and Sara show up and surprise me and I'm SO happy to see them because they are amazing and get it. David has on the Geaux Tigers shirt I bought for Chuck but somehow became David's. Annoying girls have gone away. Or: I've become the annoying girl. I really don't care.

In fact, my brother starts doing that thing where he tells me to stop yelling and jumping around and being fanatical. He tells me to stop screeching at him as I explained the Cheryl fainting story. Apparently I'm supposed to be calm and collected about these events. Normally when I get scolded like that, I go into a shell and get all meager and am like "Oh, I'm supposed to behave. Okay." But this night? For this game? I decide he can stfu. I LOVE football. I even tell Sara, "This is what makes the crappy stuff I deal with on a daily basis worth it and I don't care what he says." And Sara and David are encouraging my attitude and behavior and Matty is telling me how awesome it is that I'm so into it (telling you, he's my bartender BFF), so lil bro can seriously shove it. It must be nice to be so aloof and not care about anything. And I think it's safe to say that generally IS how I am. I operate at general apathy. But not for football. I'm going to jump up and down and scream all I want, thanks.

He does take my Jameson off my hands and say, "You don't really need that." Which is totally fair. Because UT guy has bought me more shots, that I didn't take and passed to friends. He also takes my car keys. Which is also probably a good idea. My french fries never arrived and since I don't pay at Bar None, I didn't want to be a bitch and bug anyone about it. Everyone standing at the bar did eat the free tater tots that Pat Patriot girl left behind. That was sheer comedy actually. A bunch of guys just grabbing at free food.

Cheryl even comes and meets us at the bar, a mere hour and a half after fainting at the other bar. I can't exactly stop her, but I tell her she's insane.

I finally have a good time. Because we win and I relax. And am drunk. Which is brutal when the game is over and you realize it's not even 9 p.m. I know that there were more vodka shots at some point and more conversations.

Oh, and the UChicago guy who helped carry Cheryl out of the first bar? He shows up at Bar None and just can't believe how crazy it is we're in the same place! To me this is a natural progression of events, these are pretty much the only two bars I go to that aren't dive bars in the Sunset but I guess if you're new to SF that can seem like a pretty ridiculous coincidence. (He'd moved to SF a mere 3 months ago, I learned at Northstar.)

And then it all sort of gets fuzzy. Because that's how I spend Saturdays in the fall. I know that as of 7 p.m. on Sunday my car was still parked in the Marina, my credit card was still in North Beach, and I had left my umbrella at Bar None, which I'd promised Christina to not let me forget. As of Monday morning I've only recovered the car. And I'd made out with the UChicago guy who had buried the lede of his undergraduate university being West Point. At least this time it wasn't IN the bar that I was making out with someone. (My weakness for the armed forces remains pretty epic.)

I, naturally, spent Sunday feeling like death warmed over, which was compounded by the fact that my dogs did not give the slightest fuck about how hungover I was and just wanted to play and I was the only one around to be responsible for them. I owe them long walks today.

Oh, and about those earrings? I reached in to my purse to remove my jewelry, which I had carefully placed in it after drinking. I always get nervous about doing that because I've had issues in the past. I go through my purse right before I go to finally get my car and I can't find one earring. I am freaking out a bit. A) I'm the kind of jerk who wears expensive purple and gold colored stuff so a lost earring is a nice chunk of change. B) I'm afraid I will jinx the team for all future games by not having my proper game day outfit. But I have to leave the house and get my car so this can wait a bit, even though I'm upset. When I finally return home it somehow hits me: when I took my bracelets out of my purse earlier that day, I bet the one earring got tangled in the one bracelet and is with it. I go look in my room at that bracelet and sure enough that's exactly what happened. Phew.

I'm also really glad it's homecoming week and we're taking on the mighty Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. I'll still be anxious, of course, but far less so than for #1 v #2. And I can safely watch at home.

Geaux Tigers!

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