The Routine
by Bill Glose, 9/27/01

Less than twenty-four hours before the opening kickoff, my routine was altered.

The routine had been developed over years through trial and error. Buy the snacks and drinks the night before. Clip the weekend TV schedule from the sports section and attach it to The Clipboard, right above the Top 25 printout with all the key match-ups highlighted. Scan the TV listing and plan out the dayís schedule: 11:00 pregame show, noon game, 3:30 game, evening game, and left coast night game. The routine extends through Sunday, when the new polls are released. Then, print them out and highlight the following weekís critical match-ups. Repeat as necessary.

Iíve heard consistency is the Hobgoblin of little minds. But, Iíve also heard, ĎDonít mess with success,í ĎIf it ainít broke, donít fix it,í and ĎAll your base are belong to us.í The routine is a good one, one thatís been proven to work time and time again, one that has taken years to develop. I eliminated ideas that sounded good on the surface that I later found were impractical for one reason or anther. Dressing the pets in cheerleader outfits, strapping on the elastic nacho tray kit (great, until nature calls), and experimentation with homemade surround sound systems (i.e. sitting in a semicircle of 5 TVs tuned to the same show). All of these had been whittled from the routine until it was perfect.

But, this year, my local cable company shattered my Utopia. The day before the first full weekend of college football, they temporarily discontinued service to upgrade the lines. Sure, if Iíd read the mail they sent earlier in the week announcing the service interruption, I could have been better prepared. But, darn it, it just looked too much like the rest of the junk mail I receive. If it doesnít have a hand-written address or a brown wrapper with Ďadult contentí emblazoned on the outside, it goes straight into the circular file. So, when snow hissed at me from every channel the night before the game, I was confused.

I was in a quandary. I could go to one of the local sports bars. Hooters has several TVs to cover multiple games. But, I wouldnít feel comfortable lugging all my paraphernalia to the restaurant and occupying a booth for the entire day. They might guilt me into a steady order of food and beer to compensate for use of the tabletop, leaving me either too soused to make it home or too broke to afford a tank of gas. I wouldnít mind if that meant staying at Hooters indefinitely as their lovable mascot. But, they werenít receptive to that idea last year, so I figured Iíd need another plan.

Unfortunately, Iíd also worn out my welcome at various friendsí houses. Iíd gone through my whole list, overrunning their dens, usurping their remote controls and ransacking their fridges. A manís house is his castle, unless Iím invited over for the big game. Then, I lay siege to his palace with screams of triumph, cries of anguish, and gobbles aplenty. Itís seldom a pretty sight.

All my friends had blacklisted me, and I had no idea what to do. I said as much over the phone to my girlfriend. That is when she spoke those three little words that take relationships to the next level: "Use my place."

Dawn knows Iím a Hokie, and Iíd warned her that once football season started, she wouldnít see me on Saturdays. I donít have many other vices, so she acquiesced graciously, allowing me to enjoy my ritual without interruption. But, Iíd never explained the extent of my fanaticism Ė how involved I become, how the screen transfixes me so that Iím oblivious to all else. Would she understand if I exposed this side to her? Or would a full day of pigskin-crazed intensity reduce her to a quivering pool of goo? I was willing to take that chance. Kickoff was less than 24 hours away!

The next morning, I arrived dressed in the appropriate garb Ė Hokie jacket, í96 Orange Bowl T-shirt, and VT cap. I carried a shopping bag in each hand. "You brought munchies," she exclaimed. But, then she peeked inside and saw the stacks of media guides, gameday rosters, tapes, and log books. Her shocked expression said she knew it would be a long day. While she was still dazed, I pushed her toward my car and told her to grab the other bags from the back seat.

I assailed the living room, setting up my center of operations, and she busied herself with chores in other areas as Corso and Herbstreit made their predictions. However, Dawn felt duty-bound to attend at least part of the big game, and braved passage into my lair to join the festivities. I also made amends, clearing a spot for her to sit down Ė a small spot.

I soon thought this might have been a mistake. Her first question was, "Why did they just kick the ball? I thought they only threw it." I grimaced, then closed my eyes in prayer, promising a year's worth of good behavior if only Gina would stop by, requesting Dawn's assistance with some three-hour task. But, there was no knock on the door, so I opened my eyes and gave her my "Football: 101" speech, explaining the fundamentals. Moments later, her eyes were glassy and if I had to guess, Iíd say she offered at least two years in her silent prayer.

She didnít stay for the whole game, but did come by the couch every so often to check on the progress. At halftime, I left the throne room and she left her housework. We had a quick meal, enjoyed each otherís company, and did some things I canít detail in a family forum. I asked her if we had just developed the role model for peaceful coexistence on this planet, but I never heard her answer. My watch alarm rang and I sprinted back to the recliner, ready for the second half to commence.

In the end, we survived. Partly because I cleaned up my mess Ė some of it anyway Ė but mostly because Dawn was strong. Sheíll need that strength, because now itís time for the next step in our relationship Ė a road trip to Blacksburg. She made it through a weekend with one crazed Hokie, but could the Chicago transplant survive 50,000 of Ďem? Thatís another chance Iím willing to take. Itís football season, and Lane stadiumís calling.

BILL GLOSE is a Virginia Tech graduate and a former paratrooper with the 82d Airborne Division. He is currently a full-time technical writer and editor of the magazine Virginia Adversaria.


          

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