Saturday, August 20, 2005

I Don't Even Like Football

I grew up in a football town. Through my childhood, it didn't bother me too much. As a matter of fact, the little businesswoman in me reared its head early on and I worked at the University of Georgia concession stands during the football games through high school. I never saw a game, and I didn't really care to, but I made really good money (especially by flirting with the drunk frat boys - they were the best tippers).

I didn't live with any of my brothers until my senior year in high school, so I was never really exposed to football at home. My mother spent her time reading books and playing in her garden. We didn't even have a television at home for part of my childhood, and when we did, we only got a couple of channels. Even then, we rarely watched TV. It just wasn't something we cared about. So I think I was probably in college before I even had to sit through a football game on television. No one ever taught me the rules in football, and they are too complicated to learn by watching the games (I have tried). Basketball and baseball are both very simple sports (rule-wise), and the strategy makes more sense to me. In football there is just a little more violence than I can grasp.

Football really started to irritate me once I started college. It was then that I noticed how friggin annoying football fans are. After all, like I mentioned, I live in a football town. Five or six Saturdays a year, you may as well just stay home if you don't like football. The traffic is murder, the red and black clothing is annoying, the drunkenness is downright dangerous, and the frat boy behavior makes my skin crawl. All of my friends are fairly anti-football for the same reasons. The football fans just drive us slapass batty.

But then I fell in love with one. After a while, I learned to like the sound of football games on television. I had to. The Carnivore will watch every single televised college football game that is on between August and January. For the first few years, I tried to escape. I would make plans with friends, I would go visit my family, I would go to the library and study. I would do almost anything to avoid the intolerable and never-ending sound of football. Georgia games were the worst. The Carnivore, along with his friend, my housemate, my neighbor and even some of my coworkers, would fill up my living room and yell for the entire day. They would even (and this really blew my mind) get out of their seats and run towards the television, yelling "Run! Run!" as if they could actually help the players make it further down the field by running alongside them. I was flabbergasted.

It should be noted though, that I spent most of my life on campus at UGA. I hung out there when my mother attended classes, I participated in fairs and conferences there while I was in high school, and then I spent nine years there working on my own education. I love the place. I love the architecture, the atmosphere, the landscaping (it is a truly beautiful campus), and the benefits. I stretched out my degree as long as I could, not wanting to give up the free gym, the cheap healthcare, the free public transportation, and the discounts on newspapers (eventually someone pointed out to me that these things aren't really free after you factor in the cost of tuition and fees - you'd think an accounting major could have figured that out herself).

UGA has the single coolest mascot in college football. Anyone at all familiar with college football knows about our Uga (pronounced Uh-guh). We have an actual bulldog that has a dawghouse (no, I did not misspell that - our Uga is a dawg, not a plain old dog) on the sidelines. He goes to every single game, even the away games (the players joke that only the dawg gets to sit in first class). Uga has even been to the White House. He had a bit part in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (a far better book than movie, by the way). He is the star, hands down. And I love him. I love him enough that I will sit on the sofa through entire football games, just waiting for the few minutes of airtime given to the dawg. He just flat cutes me to death.

There is a book about him, Damn Good Dawgs (plural because there have been six of them so far, all from the same bloodline). I bought two copies of the book and stood in line for two hours one evening to get them signed. The newspaper said that the authors would be there to sign the books and they would bring Uga too. Imagine my sincere disappointment when I got all the way to the front of the line and found out that Uga had not come. He had, apparently, had a prior commitment. I handed my copy of the book to Uga's owner (one of the authors) and when he asked my name, I glumly said "Just write 'Sarah, we are sorry we didn't bring the dawg." There is also a dogumentary about him (yes, I spelled that right also - we may be associated with a university, but that doesn't stop us from participating in creative spelling).

Every year, at the beginning of fall term, UGA holds a Fan Picture Day. You can have your picture taken with the coach and the players, and you can get autographs to your hearts content. I couldn't care less about any of that. The star attraction every year is that you can get your kid's picture taken with Uga. This is not an easy event to get into. People around here take this dawg's needs seriously and they try not to work him too hard. Only 120 people are guaranteed to get their picture with him. Demand is higher than you would imagine.

I have sworn for years that if I ever had a kid, I would take him to Picture Day. Fat Baby was too young last year.

Two months ago, I started hounding The Carnivore about Picture Day. He agreed to do whatever it took to get Fat Baby there for his picture with Uga. For the past two weeks, it has been a constant topic of conversation and we planned this down to the letter. The Carnivore got up at 4:30 this morning and left the house at 4:45. He had gone to campus yesterday and figured out where he would park and made sure he knew which ticket window he needed to be at. He took a chair, a book, a booklight, a large cup of coffee and his cellphone. I called him at 7:00. He was 26th in line. We were virtually guaranteed, but I couldn't bring myself to believe it until the tickets were handed out. He called back at 8:15, ticket in hand.

Our entire morning was focused on getting there. We went out and bought Fat Baby a special Georgia Bulldog outfit (and we even got a Georgia polo shirt for The Carnivore). I packed the car full of things we might need, including a cooler of milk for refills on the sippy cup. We woke up Fat Baby from his nap early, got him dressed and got in the car, with me checking the time every couple of seconds. I DID NOT WANT TO BE LATE AND LOSE OUR CHANCE.

We got to Stegeman Coliseum with plenty of time to spare and I had an infinite amount of fun watching all of the kids running around in their special Georgia outfits. Almost all the little girls were in little tiny cheerleader outfits, and yes, if I have a little girl someday, I will do the same thing.

I practically paid any attention to Fat Baby when we were in the room for our picture. I was flat out moved to be the same room as that extremely cool dawg. I have been at parties with rock stars and haven't been the least bit starstruck. Around Uga, I was giddy. The Carnivore even got to pet him. I am sorely jealous about that. I am officially no longer cool.

We took pictures with both the digital camera and the real camera, but haven't gotten the film developed yet from the old-style camera. It is on that camera that we have the shot of me and Fat Baby with Hairy Dawg (the other mascot - the person dressed up to look like a Bulldog). I have had some good days in my life. The day I got married, the day I had Fat Baby, you know, those really important moments in your life. Today ranks right up there.


yolie said...

I had a smile on my face the entire time I read this! Ray looks adorable!

Cindy said...

PLAYING in the garden??? PLAYING??? How about working my butt off in the garden...Love, Big Mama