It was late and I was in a bar surrounded by new friends. My old friends couldn’t meet up with me. They were all sick or they had something else they needed to do – one excuse or another – and so there I was by myself in Chicago, sitting in a little bar packed full of blue.
I hugged a man I didn’t know, shook hands with his friend and hugged his girlfriend and then I high fived another man and his wife. I didn’t know them before. I didn't give a damn. None of us did. We were all out of our minds. We shouted until we had all lost our voices. We jumped and cheered and freaked out together, convulsing with the physical manifestations of so many strange emotions. I was in a daze. In the course of thirty seconds the world as I knew it had gone from abject despair to pure, unadulterated, unashamed euphoria. And that was only in Chicago. I can’t fathom what it must have been like in the House.
My hand is bruised this morning from pounding on the bar. I can’t think of anything I could do in thirty seconds that can turn the world upside down like that. Not like that. I mean God, I don’t know if I can brush my teeth in thirty seconds.
But there, in that House I loved so much, a bunch of kids wearing my colors had just pulled off something that not even a quarter and a half ago would have been inconceivable. They had denied the stats, the completion percentages, the yards given up by their defense; it mattered only so far as it set us all up for one of the best endings we’ve ever seen. Denard needed eleven completed passes, and that’s exactly what he got.
After that game, I wandered my neighborhood like a roving lunatic. I laughed and shook my head and couldn’t believe what I had just seen. I collected ‘good game’ comments from so many random people on the street; even State fans. I ended up at a hotdog place, a little hole in the wall run by a guy whose dad used to play for Irish. A sign that read ‘Play Like a Champion’ hangs on the wall there. He was cleaning the glass door as I walked up, took a look at me, opened the door and said, “Holy shit.”
That’s about all I could say back. ‘Holy shit.’
I went in and we talked about football and the things we had just seen. It was that kind of game; where a Michigan man and the Irish fan can both respect the fact that they had just witnessed something purely amazing.
And to think, eleven years ago I was a kid who didn’t like sports, didn’t particularly like football, didn’t care one way or the other about how many people fit in a stadium. Sports were the opiate of the masses, or some other nonsense I have since learned to recognize at nonsense. At the time, though, I was ‘too smart’ for that.
But when my application for student season tickets came in the mail, my father sat me down and told me I was getting them. There would be no discussion. I could sell the tickets. I could sell the tickets to him if I wanted, but I was getting them. And I’m so happy I did.
Because, a little over a decade later, I was hugging grown people I had never met before, celebrating fleet footed miracles with my new friends and fellow fans.
How about you, blog friends? Tell us where you were.