How Blue Was My Valley

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008, 5:32 pm

When I woke up Saturday morning…I won’t say that I wanted to die, but a lengthy hospital stay would’ve been so nice. Instead I poured as much water and Advil as I could into my system and took a long, hot shower. By the time we piled in Debbie’s car and headed for Happy Valley the possibility that I might throw up in my mouth was no longer a pressing concern. I got some Starbucks into my system and a bit later fortified myself with a Big Mac. Of course we ran into the usual game-day gridlock on the outskirts of town, but we made it to our lot in time for a couple of hours of tailgating. What with the hijinks of the night before I only managed to down nine or ten beers before kickoff:

Yeah, I’m looking good there.

It was pretty doggone cold with a brisk wind blowing, but that didn’t stop a few enterprising and moderately disturbed students from turning the hill below the baseball field into a thrill ride:

A few plastic tarps, some jugs of water, and gravity. This shot doesn’t really show how steep the hill was (most of the kids slid along the grass for about ten yards before they came to a stop) nor how…plasticky the tarp was. When we walked past it on our way to the game I gave it a gander and all I could think about was how easy it would be to pick up a staph infection sliding down that cracklin’ plastic sheet. Glad I’m old now and my risk-taking is limited to the poker tables and my love life.

To the game! Beaver Stadium has about 25,000 more seats than it did when I graduated in ’91, and the twin decks in the endzones make it seem even bigger than that. I think it’s the biggest stadium in the U.S., or it is until Michigan finishes the renovations at the Big House. Though I understand that at Michigan the fans get two inches less per seat than we do. I’d rather have the room than the company, thank you very much.

The game didn’t start well, with Michigan moving the ball at will, Penn State making mistakes at every turn, and me using language more appropriate for a prison riot than a college football game. But we were only down three at the half, and after standing in the Longest Bathroom Line in the History of Mankind I returned to my seat to watch the Lions run roughshod over the Wolverines the rest of the way. I have to admit that we left before the final whistle (and the final Penn State touchdown). See, there were 110,017 people at the game. There is one–ONE–road leading east out of town, and construction has left it at a single lane for several miles. If we’d stayed to the end of the game we would’ve sat in traffic for, oh, two hours. Instead we left with the game well in-hand, ran (and I mean we RAN) to the car, piled in, and made a break for it. About 90 minutes later we were sitting in a sports bar in Harrisburg (the worst-designed sports bar I’ve ever seen, perhaps more on that later) sipping Yuengling instead of sitting in what would’ve amounted to a long, skinny parking lot. I wish I’d seen Stephion Green’s 80-yard touchdown, but that Yuengling tasted good.

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