Win or lose, enjoy this time. Remember it. Cherish it.
And Go Blue.
In a closet somewhere in my childhood home sits a ragged
plush football eaten away by time and tosses that should be long since
discarded. It was once a vibrant pattern of yellows and blues with
"MICHIGAN" printed elegantly on its thin fabric skin. The ball, many
unknown years older than I, has seen countless Michigan football games from
Michigan Stadium and a Washington, DC living room. The ball remains firmly and
invariably in the possession of either my father or me until Michigan scores a
touchdown, at which time we throw the ball back and forth as many times as we
can until Michigan kicks the extra point.
That ball has seen a lot, obviously. It's been hurled aimlessly in frustration and squeezed just a little too hard in terror and forgotten altogether in those wonderful moments of blissful pandemonium. It's also seen me. I've held it as a toddler without responsibilities, as a mushroom-haired adolescent trying to fart joke his way through middle school, as a skinny high schooler desperately waiting for the big envelope, and lately, as a suave, sophisticated student at the University of Michigan. The next time I hold that ball it will be because I'm living at home again, looking for a job. It will mean my time at Michigan has run out.
Everyone shipping off to college knows--in the logical part of his brain, anyway--that the ride doesn't last forever. It's certainly crossed my mind before. I knew that someday I would no longer be able to eat fourteen hard boiled eggs for breakfast or walk to Kroger twice in one day just to buy an apple and a pack of gum or wear shirts with pictures of pizza on them to class. I guess I just didn't know that someday would be so soon.
This is my last year here, and I'm going to miss it. During the past week I’ve watched a wave of freshmen pour into their dorm rooms and kiss their teary mothers goodbye and smile that dumb smile of which only a freshman is capable. I knew I was going to miss these people and the buildings through which we walked and talked and laughed together. And I thought I was going to miss Michigan Football above all other things. I thought I was never going to stand in the student section again or sing The Victors or get in fistfights with Michigan students who insist on booing Chad Henne when his shoulder is injured.
But I realize something now. The man with whom I’ve played that superstitious game of catch for 21 years graduated from Michigan 37 years ago. He doesn’t go to the Jug or Pizza Bob’s anymore. He hasn’t stepped inside Angell Hall since Richard Nixon was President. But he holds that ratty old ball just as tight and sings The Victors just as clearly and dances to touchdowns just as badly as when he was 20. Though his days in Ann Arbor are long behind him, my father has never left the University of Michigan.
To cheer for Michigan requires no admission process. It has no expiration date and no union dues. Everyone who comes to this website does so with the common interest of following Michigan athletics with bizarre precision in an effort to make ourselves better, more knowledgeable fans. There are Eastern Michigan graduates on this site. There are current Central Michigan students on this site. There are high schoolers on this site. But we're all here for the same reason.
I understand now that when I am a stiff, crotchety blue hair sitting slumped in a nursing home rocking chair because I’m too weak to sit in the 90th row of Michigan Stadium and poke the people in front of me with my cane, I’ll still be able to roar in approval and curse in dissatisfaction and throw broccoli at the Ohio State graduate sitting at the table next to mine, and I will feel just as excited, just as happy, just as good as I will tomorrow.
Certainly, the day upon which I pack my bags and leave Ann Arbor for good will be a sad one. But my joy for having been here at all far exceeds my sorrow for the necessity of my departure. I thank God every day for the blessings I’ve been given, chiefly among them the opportunity to grow up with the University of Michigan. I thank God for my parents and my friends who have grown and cheered right beside me even when there was no enthusiasm to be found. And I thank all of you for sharing this team with me for the past 21 years. The controversies that have plagued this team in the past nine months are scarcely worth consideration; our bond is unbreakable and our pride is only beginning to swell. This is my Michigan, this is your Michigan, this is our Michigan, now and forever.
Tomorrow's game can be said to be merely that: a game. An arbitrary contest of
physicality and luck and preparation and little scribbles in a playbook between
two schools. It can also, in a stretch, be said to be a dawn, a life preserver,
a battle for the survival of a good man's reputation. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in
Wherever its proper place may be, it drains the blood from our faces and punches us in our stomachs and leaves us wondering why we continue to pour our hearts into it. On Monday we'll all go back to work or class and maybe by Thursday we will have more pressing matters on our minds, but we’ll be back on Saturday. Maybe you’ll stand beside me in Michigan Stadium; maybe you’ll watch from your home somewhere in the vast American Midwest; maybe you’ll be watching on a ten-year-old computer at 4 am local time because you live in Singapore. But we’ll all be there together.
Go Blue. And whatever your dirty, beaten toy football talisman may be, hold it tight and hold it fast, and don’t ever let it go.
Win or lose, enjoy this time. Remember it. Cherish it.
And Go Blue.
Yes, well done, but I think you will be a Prof some day at Michigan.
Great article, and awesome memories. And please make sure you have your punches ready if someone starts booing these freshman QB's this year. There will be good times, and tough times, but they are still Michigan Men.
The "U" never leaves you, and you never really leave it.
When I was a student in the late '80s, The Victors was my favorite Michigan song. I snickered (as I'm sure you do) at The Yellow and Blue. Now that I'm older, and have children as passionate about our beloved University as we are, hearing the Alma Mater practically bring a tear to my eye. "Michigan" is not just where we went to school -- it is a very big part of who were are, and what we want to be in the world.
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
My dad is a graduate of the Business School, my uncle of the History and Law School. I learned the Yellow and Blue at the ripe old age of 8 going to games with my dad.
The song still chokes me up every time I hear it. I wish they would bring it back to play before the game like they used to instead of Varsity.
Let's all enjoy the moment today.
Though why aren't you out partying on the first Friday of the school year?
Song Lyrics to "Yellow and Blue"
Sing to the colors that float in the light;
Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue!
Yellow the stars as they ride through the night
And the reel in a rollicking crew;
Yellow the fields where ripens the grain
And yellow the moon on the harvest wain;
Hail to the colors that float in the light
Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue!
Blue are the billows that bow to the sun
When yellow robed morning is due.
Blue are the curtains that evening has spun
The slumbers of Phoebus to woo;
Blue are the blossoms to memory dear
And blue is the sapphire and gleams like a tear;
Hail to the ribbons that nature has spun'
Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue!
for the Yellow and Blue. I sang it with my fellow Michigan colleagues during our last game as undergrads at the Big House. I have fond memories of that day in November 1993. It was beautiful, it was somber, it was exciting and it was Michigan Football, just as we'll enjoy it on September 5, 2009.
Thank you, Boutros for your trip down memory lane. Michigan Football is forever woven into the fabric of my life. It is etched into my soul. I am forever a fan and forever a Michigan Man.
As someone who graduated in May, and will be attending my very last football game in probably a long time tomorrow, it is my first as an Alumnus, and I will never cheer as loud as I will tomorrow.
I am moving to California on Wednesday. I will miss Ann Arbor, I will miss Michigan Stadium, and I will most certainly miss my beloved University of Michigan. I love it with every fiber in my being.
Thank you for this diary. Go Blue!
California is nice too, especially here in San Francisco.
I hear you though, I will always miss Ann Arbor.
Great post!!!!!!!!!It kicks off at 430am here in Seoul South Korea but me and all of my football toting friends will be watching on the edge of our chairs and trying to not wake up my 2 year old.(FAT CHANCE) Go Blue!
That was one of the best posts in a long time.
When I was an undergrad, I was terrified when people told me that my four years of college would be the best four years of my life. How could I go on living after, I wondered, knowing that my best four years were behind me? So I stretched four years to five, and then decided to get a Master's, and stretched it to seven. And finally, one day, my time at Michigan was really and truly done.
And you know what? It WAS the best seven years of my life. And I'm not terrified, or even sad, to have left it behind. My life is so much richer for the time I spent at Michigan, the experiences of those years so fulfilling, that even if for the rest of my life, I never live a year as well as I lived during those precious seven, I can only count myself as blessed.
Senior year may be your last year on campus, but your time as a part of the proud family of Michigan alums, who go out and represent the school we love, and try to live up to the thoroughly debunked but nevertheless alluring standard of the "Michigan Man," this time has yet to begin. And it, too, is a beautiful thing to be a part of.
And all of us, whether or not we have degrees from Michigan, whether or not we have degrees at all, can look forward to the day when we teach our own children about Bo Schembechler, and Don Canham, and how Braylon Edwards single-handedly beat Michigan State, and how it rained during the Central game and the students screamed "It's Great to Be a Michigan Wolverine" for an hour straight while the lightning crashed, and knew it to be true. Truly, we are all blessed.
Thank you for an excellent post, Boutros, and Go Blue!
Most eloquent thing I've ever seen you produce. And worthy of respect.
It's peculiar to wake up and see that apparently you have made a comment on your own diary before your day even begins. Maybe there are ghosts in my computer.
Well crafted. The tuition was well spent. I am sure your parents are proud of your skills, passion, and perspective.
Go Blue...and Go Bluehairs!
I shared the same emotions several years ago. Savor your time at Michigan while it lasts.
+1,000,000 for fighting the students who booed Henne whilst injured. That angered me from 1,000 miles away.
So is no one else going to award him points for his magnificent work?
Right on. An excellent diary.
and really got to me. Well done.
sorry BB! but i am sure it was well written and shiat. its just that i am too excited about footbaw today!
oh yeah, and it was me (and somebody else) jacking you and $am yesterday. sorry. couldn't resist. $am is so easy to launch.
As a father of a college student, let me say your father is very proud of you.
I grew up dreaming of attending the University of Michigan.
My parents met there. My Father has his undergrad degree, a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and Law from U of M. He brought me to all the home games growing up and those afternoons before and after the games were spent eating at Blimpy's, Zingermanns, Red Hot Lover's, tailgates, etc., then playing football with other kids on the lawn of his fraternity house.
My older sister went there. As a teenager I visited her and got a whole new perspective on the school and campus. I spent an entire evening once glued to a chair feeling like someone was pouring cold egg yolk over me after taking a massive hit off a 10' (yes, you had to stand on a chair) bong full of snow. Sitting in the student section for games was quite new.
Then I went there. I loved those days and they are the best days, in some ways, though I have had some pretty good ones afterward also, thanks in no small part to my M degree.
My little brother visited me on campus when he was a teenager. I got him into Goodtime Charlie's when he and his friend were 15 and I continually sent girls over to talk to them and laughed while they turned red and 'aw shucks-ed' their way through the conversation. I took them to late night parties and gave them many of the same introductions to student life that my sister had for me. I made sure my brother knew to keep his grades up and such, because getting to work hard AND play hard at Michigan does not come easy. Needless to say, he went there also.
Now I am 40, I have a 4.5 year old son and live in San Francisco. I am not sure how, or if, I will be able to pass on my love for the University from this far away. I would never force him to go to any particular school, that will be his choice, but I will lobby hard for UM, assuming he has the grades, etc. I wonder living so far away, if a few visits to campus for games will do it, and this has me contemplating a move back to Chicago. Yes, I would move just for that. To be able to get to game days all season with him and to visit campus often (my brother still lives in Ann Arbor). To see him play football with other kids on the lawn and take him to Blimpy's and have him love the University the same way we do. I would likely take a career hit, as I have worked exclusively in tech start-ups here and in Europe for the last 15 years and there just isn't that much of a demand for that in Chi-town.
I am seriously considering it. It would be worth it to someday see that acceptance letter come in the mail letting him know he was on his way to Ann Arbor for the best years of his life.