New Friends

Submitted by Foote Fetish on September 11th, 2011 at 7:05 PM

 

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.

Comments

Naked Bootlegger

September 11th, 2011 at 7:32 PM ^

I was at home in Madison, WI.   The anticipation built all day.   I kept busy catching up on work (blah!) while casually watching random games in the man cave throughout the day.   We sat down as a family (my wife and I are both alum...watching Rocket Ismail gash us twice in 1989 for TD's is still etched in our collective memories as our 1st UM game).   My kids were largely disinterested as the game started.  They grew outright bored at our offensive and defensive woes early in the game.   They sensed the adults' growing discontentment.  The tension in the air was palpable.   I pseudo-forced them to watch the game (THOSE WHO STAY WILL BE CHAMPIONS in my household!).   Their interest elevated in the 2nd half.   The electricity was just too much, and they sensed it.   After spending my first 30 years as a stressed-out fan who paced throughout many UM games, I have found myself much more mellow in recent years.   But my old habits kicked in.   I wish I had a hit of Nicorette to soothe my feelings.   The 4th quarter tension built, and my children were sucked in 100%.  Hooked, hopefully forever.   Cheering, booing, cheering, booing louder, followed by crazy, wild celebration.  We did it as a family.   I think I finally created two future Wolverines after many years of gentle nudging.   And that may have been the best outcome of my evening.

Lordfoul

September 11th, 2011 at 9:02 PM ^

Home with two sleeping children while my wife worked nights in the York (PA) Hospital ICU.  ESPN3 came in handy for the more stressful moments in the game.  My sweet baby daughter slept like an angel so Dad could go bonkers.  Had a blast talking to family and fellow alums on the phone.

Mgirl

September 11th, 2011 at 9:35 PM ^

I was in the Big House and it was the most crazy, joyful, exciting game I've ever attended. During the fourth quarter I was literally trembling from emotional vertigo. I screamed myself hoarse, sat dejected with my head in my hands, and high-fived and hugged my neighbors (mostly strangers). We were almost out of our minds with joy at the end.

And the icing on the cake was that after the clock hit zero, after the mad celebrating started to die down and it was time to go, nobody went. Almost the entire stadium stayed and stood and danced and sang like crazy - anything we could do to express the pure elation we felt right then. Even after they cut the music off, the fans stayed and watched and cheered Denard again as he came out for his ESPN interview. I have NEVER seen so many people stay so long after a game, just to hold on to and share the experience a little longer.

Scotthany

September 11th, 2011 at 9:37 PM ^

And made friends with a Penn State fan. It helped that he had made a bet on us winning but even after the lines about how he can't believe he was rooting for Michigan and how this will only happen once, by the end he was jumping up and down with me with high fives aplenty.

MichFan1997

September 11th, 2011 at 11:38 PM ^

I had 4 Notre Dame fans about 2 rows in front of me. They were arrogant all game long. I loved seeing them shut up and sulk away at the end. I was sitting on the goal line, in the corner where Roundtree caught the winner, 46 rows up. I don't think I've ever screamed so loud in my life as I did in the 4th last night.

Also, the girl next to me was an OSU fan, but she was cheering for Michigan. She even waved the pom poms, helped out with the stadium noise, and did the "let's go blue" cheers. She said she "hate(s) Notre Dame as an institution more than anything."

Also had an Illinois fan behind me. He was just shaking his head at the end of the game.

I hope someone has video of all the dancing and singing after the game was over. That was fun.

Njia

September 12th, 2011 at 7:04 AM ^

I watched on TV, long after I had sent my kids to bed. My wife (an EMU alumna -- yes, we'll be at the Big House on Saturday) trundled up to bed after ND's go-ahead TD with 0:30 left. An OSU alum who is a friend and colleague of mine sent me a text "U-M almost got lucky". Followed about 20 seconds later by "Holy shit."

I felt like a kid again watching Roundtree haul in that ball. I was delirious and giddy. I watched every minute of Sportscenter and College Football Final after the game twice. I read every blog and column from SI and ESPN, and snuck into the ND blogs for a little schadenfreude. I tried to get onto MGoBlog, but couldn't. I stayed up until well past 2:00 AM, drinking it all in.

It is great to be a Michigan Wolverine.