In the loosely adapted ways of Dante, I present to you the ninth canto of Formerly's Football Inferno. I promise nothing when it comes to grammar, punctuation, logical plots, or anything that normally goes into story writing.
For those of you unfamiliar, Dante walks through each region of hell to learn the sins and punishment by talking to those souls trapped. In this circle of Dante's version, those who would commit Heresy are punished in tombs of fire.
As we reach the 6th circle, there was a noticeable feeling of optimism in the air. The mood felt less heavy. The feeling was strange, one that I hadn't felt in quite a while. It didn't take me long to figure it out either. Michigan just defeated Minnesota, closing out a perfect record in the Metrodome.
The celebration didn't last long in my mind. I knew Michigan was still 3-7 and not going bowling for the first in ages. It was a hollow win.
The 6th Circle is a eerily quiet cemetery. Graves are aligned quite compactly, and there is little room to pass without nearly stepping on the hallowed ground. Each soul is in a grave marked with their name. Below the name is listed a saying one of two phrases, "Down in front!" or "You can stand!" As I start to see these two messages, I have already figured out what the sin of this circle is, embattled fans.
It seems strange that this is the only circle thus far that has it's damned in what seems like isolation. I guess that's because the fans here would rather fight with each other than focus on the game. In each case, standing or sitting and yelling at the standing, they ruin each other's game experience. Say what you will about the idiot message board posters, they at least bicker away from the game. These that fight during games, there is a problem there.
But despite my personal feelings about these besetting fans, I can't help but wonder what their take on their punishment is. About half way through the 6th Circle, I couldn't contain my curiosity, especially when my other option was watching Northwestern beat Michigan on a wet Ann Arbor afternoon. So I turned to Davy, "Davy, do you mind if I talk to one of these spirits of this domain?"
"Nah, partner, do as you wish. Just don't ask too many questions. The people in this circle get a bit testy."
"Yeah," I start. "I can tell by the headstones. Any suggestion on sitters or standers?"
"They're damned if you do, they're damned if you don't. Or, well, yeah. The sitters will moan that you're impeding their time. The standers will complain that your not a big enough fan to ask them questions. Pick your poison, kid."
"Great, I'll take the crab juice. Um, how about the standing guy? I don't want to have to sit down to perform this interview."
Davy replied, "That's a good point. Let me round up this feller over here." Feller? Really?
Davy began to wave his hands to open the grave, and as he did, flames burst through the opening as if the grave was pressured with fire. After the grave completely opened, a spirit leapt out as if he were gasping for air.
"Woooo does it feel good getting out of there!" the spirit exclaimed. "Now who do I owe thanks for getting me a break?"
Davy points over to me, "That'd be this here fella."
"Well, then thank you. My name is Super M. Fan. I had it legally changed to that back in '97, right after I caught every game of that National Championship season, at home and on the road. I had Charles Woodson's face tattooed on my ass after he won the Heisman. Wanna see?"
"No. Not at all," I replied as the guy went and pulled down his pants to moon me.
"KISS THE WOODSON!" he proclaimed.
"You're not a real fan if you can't appreciate Woodson in all his glory."
"How much can you tell me about Michigan's baseball history?"
"Michigan has a baseball team?" he asked.
"You're not real fan of the University."
"BURN!" said Davy, as flames reached up and scorched the wretched soul.
After letting his yells subside, I redirected the conversation. "So, how's hell treating you, I mean other than the burns?"
"Dude, it's horrible. Not only can I not get a decent drink down here, but I have to watch the Big Ten Network's Greatest Games for eternity."
"That doesn't sound so bad."
"They're all Michigan losses. And the only commercials are for Rotel and Barbasol."
"Ouch. I take that back. If it makes you feel any better, though, that's all they play even on Earth."
"The worst part, occasionally they tease us with a break in programming. It always ends up being campus programming from Purdue's campus. Have you ever seen how they inseminate a cow? Dude, least interesting semen related thing ever. This guy in a plastic glove sticks his hand up the cow's an—"
"Dude, stop it. I know where this is going, and I don't want you to go on any further."
"Hey, there's only so many ways to get your jollies down here."
"No. Enough. Stop."
"Fair enough, guy… Hey, Michigan's about to take on Northwestern on BTN in like 3 minutes. I think Michigan may finally win this one. I can't remember back to the '95 season, but jNWU has to be horrible, am I right?"
"You're not going to—" I start before interrupted by Davy.
"Formerly, let him have it. We must continue on. Super M. Fan, get back in the hole." The spirit sank slowly back into his crypt to go endure more pain and misery. Davy looked at me, "He hasn't even gotten to you're time on BTN's greatest games. Just wait until he has to watch the Horror. Yikes."
"I envy him not."
"Come on boy, let's move on. Trouble is on the horizon. Michigan is losing to Ohio State by 3 touchdowns. The gods will be angry." So hastily we set off.
Does anyone know the story/identity of a fellow I refer to as "Michigan Batman"? MB has a Batman mask, Michael Keaton-style with the ears and stuff, painted maize and blue, and wears a cape and maize and blue sunglasses.
I remember first seeing him on the broadcast of the 1997 Penn State game, and I also caught a whiff of him on Wolverine Historian's cutups of the 1998 Rose Bowl and other game tapes.
I believe a picture of him is also in Bo's coffee table book "Michigan Memories."
I'd just like to know who he is.