A sure sign of getting old is when you wake-up (that’s a good thing) on a beautiful Saturday morning in Alabama and you are thankful for two things: college football and you’re not living in Mississippi.
So, as your alma mater stinks and the Jets season once again for all practical playoff purposes is over, the best college football team in all the land is only fifty miles away. It’s a perfect day to put the top down on the convertible and for the first time in two years, make the journey to Tuscaloosa to see the number one and six teams in the country face-off. As you leave home, you get the stink eye from a pooched-out pooch and you know Ibis is thinking, “You named me after the Miami mascot so what-the-hell is so important about going to the Alabama game and leaving me all alone?”
A couple of hundred thousand others, half of whom won’t even go into the stadium for the game, decide to do the same thing, so the forty-five minute trip becomes ninety. Not too bad.
You get to Tuscaloosa fortunate enough to have a parking pass and early enough to hit three tailgate parties, one of which you were actually invited to. It’s not yet eleven in the morning but beer cans are already strewn all over the place. You remind Andi Berger of female port-a-potty etiquette: bend, don’t break. You push and get shoved; nobody really gives a shit you had rotator cuff surgery on your right shoulder eight weeks ago and what constitutes roughing and elbowing penalties in hockey go unnoticed as part of the right of passage trying to avoid people who never look up from their phones. You feel the stress in your arm by nightfall and you hope your physical therapist doesn’t read this but you know she will so you ready for the lecture forthcoming: “If you want to play baseball in January……yada, yada and more yada.”
With 102,000 others in the stadium, watching Alabama win their 20th straight game this one over Texas A&M, the PA guy at halftime tells you the water in the stadium is backing up and if possible avoid using the restrooms. Nobody listens.
Even though the rule book says the game is played with four quarters, in your rule book there are only three. The trip home takes half the time it took to get there.
You go out to your all-weather porch and realize the best seats in the house are actually in the house you left behind and not on the 50 yard line. Age has a remarkable way to put things into perspective. Even Ibis is tail wagging again.