KU vs. FHSU: The Other Stuff

A staple on Phog.net, KU fan Wine and Cheeser kicks off this season's reports on the "other stuff" involved in enjoying a game at Allen Fieldhouse.

Long and off topic – you’ve been warned!

We had a plan.  Mrs. Cheeser and I were to meet at home and be ready to leave for Lawrence by 4:30.  Mrs. Cheeser’s received a couple of promotions since last season, jumped a number of “levels,” and is now able to pretty much come and go as she pleases.  This is great with me because I can change clothes at home now, instead of my office.  (I know, I know.  My office door locks but I still don’t like it.  Okay!  Get your own phobias).

I’m home a little after 4:00.  Change into game day attire.  It’s 4:15.  No Mrs. Cheeser.  Fine.  She’s already dressed for the game, and doesn’t need as much time.  She’ll be here any moment.  4:30.  Phone rings: “[Mrs. Cheeser] Office.”  Sh*t.  She ain’t here.  She “got caught.”  And why don’t I come by and pick her up?  Why?  Why?  Because that’s not the plan!  “Yes, dear,” I say.  “Don’t forget my stuff,” she reminds. 

Her stuff includes her game purse.  Now, I’m a lucky husband.  Mrs. Cheeser is pretty much a one-purse lady.  But she likes to use a tiny, crimson leather purse for game days.  She’ll put just the essentials in that little purse go take into Memorial or AFH.  I carry the dainty purse to my car. 

And no.  I’m pretty much domesticated and don’t mind carrying her purse.  Heck, I’ve been known to carry her purse in the lingerie section of a store holding up a product and announcing “Hey, here’s one without the underwire….”  To the young guys – your gal may not carry a purse now.  But someday, it will be your constant companion.  In your lap in the car.  In your hands when she needs both of hers.  Etc.  And woe unto you if you should ever make the mistake of putting something in that purse.  It then becomes “our” purse, and you’ve lost standing to complain about it.  If I had it to do over again, I’d clean out a Skoal can and use it to carry the occasional pill, mint or chapstick.  I hear chicks dig Skoal rings.

Anyway, we’re on 435 headed to K-10.  It’s almost 5:00.  I’m steaming.  Can’t get over the plan having been blown.  I wish I wasn’t that way, but I am.  Came by it naturally from my father.  Start to think; to remember.  I’m now about the age of my father when….  Great!  I’ve become my father.  Stressing about time and the dreaded “being late.”  Dad’s now 80 something, possessed of his faculties, and cool as a cucumber (if you can call residing in almost constant 85 degree heat “cool”).  Maybe I should take a page from my dad now, not my dad then. 

I take stock.  The car’s running well.  A little bit of tire noise over my left shoulder.  Calculate the miles, and realize my rear tires will be at their worst when I need them the most.  Woops.  Early dad.  Feel the car hunker down at about 80 mph.  It really finds itself at 90; not to be tonight.  Tank’s full.  Something just comforting about a full tank of gas.  350 miles of freedom.  The sunset!  How could I not notice the sunset?  Beautiful.  Bright sliver of orange/yellow sun shooting off crimson rays into blue clouds turning purple, then pink, then blue again.  I start to relax.  I hear Mrs. Cheeser talking to me.  Hope she hasn’t said anything too important up to now!  Speeding along in a competent car with a gorgeous blonde beside me into a beautiful sunset to watch a new season of KU basketball.  I think I’ll like new dad better.

The plan being blown, our dinner choices are limited.  Chose Chili’s.  Just fine.  Sat next to a guy who isn’t comfortable dining alone.  On the phone the entire time.  His ringtone is the William Tell Overture – you know – the Lone Ranger song.  I know too much about him.  He’s a doctor from the 948 area code here for a funeral.  Not sure what kind of doctor he is, but his practice includes draining sebaceous cists on people’s buttocks, because he was trying to find another doctor to do that for one of his patients.  Great dinner conversation.

Drive to AFH.  Parking lot mostly empty.  Good space.  Back in.  Get our tickets scanned at the door, and we’re in!  It’s about 6:20.

Walk directly to our new seats.  Our guests are already there.  Shake hands.  Now shut up and let me soak this in.  Is there a reason Mrs. Cheeser always sits next to our guests?

No surprise with the seats.  We, of course, knew right where they were having sweat bullets over them in the picking your seat competition.  One section higher, and one section further from center court than our seats for the last number of years.  First time on bleachers for 8 or more years.  No worries.

The band isn’t playing yet.  They used to start at 50 minutes before tip off.  Piped in music now.  Don’t know any of it, of course.  Loud on the new sound system.  Band starts at 30 minutes before tip off.  Trade off between band and recorded music for a while.  I could do with out the recorded stuff entirely.  Yeah.  I’m old.

AFH looks scrubbed, painted and fresh.  Same bones, but clean and new looking.  The lights make a lot of difference, too.  Just in the overall ambiance.  It’s brighter and somehow looks cleaner.  Everything with a fresh coat of crimson or blue paint.  I like it.  A lot.  The new windows from the inside are a midnight blue, ringed with new chrome fittings.  Reminds me of the windows on a ’63 Impala with hydraulics.  I like it.

The scoreboard.  Looks like it has always been there.  THAT’s the true beauty of it.  The top is a, well, scoreboard.  Normal stuff, but above that is a screen with a blue background that always says “Kansas Basketball” in white.  Below the first panel is the video board.  Cool.  During the game, they put borders on each side of the video board containing the lineup by numbers, fouls, points, etc.  I like that.  Below the video board is another rectangular screen.  This usually has the name of a sponsor, but after points are scored, the KU player’s name is flashed across it.  Great.

Team is still doing the Nick-Bradford-Running-In-Place-Drill, but with better spacing.  Wasn’t afraid of players knocking noggins this time. 

There was a comely lass playing a Shannon-like role on the floor during warm ups.  I wonder what her story is?

Colors presented by the Air Force ROTC, National Anthem sung by a coed.  Just fine.

The Cheerleaders were in mid-season form.  KUCheer?  Is this still your squad?  They continued with your momentum from last year – lots of stunts, and tumbling by those not in the stunts.  Wearing the basic blue outfits, girls with white hair ribbons. 

The Rock Chalk Dancers f/k/a the Crimson Girls wore what was a new outfit from last year.  Sparkly crimson and blue tops, basically white skirts with a sparkly crimson and blue waist, joined by a diaphanous white material over their midsections.  Am I wrong, or did they add some dancers with, well, curves?  Pretty much a first.  They did a nice routine at half time dressed in last year’s competition outfits of blue over black.  Nicely done.

I’m delighted to say that there were precious few “introductions” tonight.  Last year it seemed like they were done at every time out.  We applauded the Wards for all their donations for the freshening of AFH.  We recognized Ryan Robertson in the crowd.  And applauded some Gulf Coast donation efforts.  Not too much of that stuff.  Good.

Only one real commercial on the video board that I remember.  It was a sponsored “this date in history” type deal.  1955, of course.  Again, would prefer they not, but it was okay.

The introduction of the KU players was preceded by a video board presentation of KU basketball history.  My jury is still out on that.  Not too long, but it’s, well, different.  Getting the idea I’m a bit inflexible?  Perish the thought.

The band never seemed to find its groove.  There were lots of announcements during the timeouts and such, and some recorded music was played.  The band seems to be taking a subservient role to the technology.  THAT I don’t like.  That, and the fact they bass guitar player is still there.  If you need more bass, add more Sousaphones! 

I learned, at the first game of the season, that I don’t like our seats.  This isn’t a gripe about not having what I had before.  The fact is we chose badly.  Our seats are on an aisle, but the court is on the other side of that aisle.  There was a constant stream of people between us and the game.  Duh!  Just never thought of it.  This, I guess, is the beauty of changing seats every year; won’t make this mistake again.

Lot’s of folks late to the game.  Lot’s of folks leaving early.  Hope they’re not the ticket holders, but those to whom the tickets were given for a “lesser” game.  We’ll see.

Like the folks in front of us.  A bit older than us, but into the game.  The folks behind us, though, are a concern.  A dad and his, say, 4 year old son.  Son kicked us throughout the game.  The “stare of death” wasn’t sufficient, and we had to speak to the father.  Helped some.  And the kid never shut up.  And seldom said anything about the game.  I know, I know.  Some kids just do that.  But most of it was whining.  “Why won’t they throw T shirts over here!  OVER HERE, OVER HERE!!!!!!”  Reserving judgment.

No obvious, new ads on the floor.  Looks like a small Russell Stover ad on the basket support above the O’Reilly automotive ad.  The “benches” have “Kansas” on the backs, and a Jayhawk on the seats.

New video boards at each “tunnel.”  They have ads virtually all the time.  They did before, so just adding the video boards is not much of a change.  But they’re coordinated, and all have the same ad.  We noticed that when the ad changed from one with a white background, to one with a dark background, in the stands it was like someone shut off some lights.

The students, at least on the South side, added a twist to an older free throw heckling maneuver.  Last year they came up with the “sit in place quietly, then jump and yell when the ball was released” move.  This year they added stamping of feet while seated.  Good revision, folks. 

Mrs. Cheeser had to pull me out of a Forrest Gump moment.  I can’t figure out the play clocks over the baskets.  You can see through them, but each side has the numbers facing the correct way, and you can’t see backward numbers from your side.  Understand?  I stared at them for way too long.  Don’t get it.  No sir, don’t get it.  I’ll just chalk it up to magic, and leave it at that.

Game was great fun.  Rock Chalk Chant for a few minutes.  Left during “Home on the Range.”  Parking lot had emptied from all the early departures. 

Just to tick off Curlygirl, we stopped at Sonic on the way home.  Coconut cream pie shake, and a strawberry sundae.  Traffic virtually gone on K 10 when we headed out (which is why we stopped at Sonic).  Except for the Highway Patrol officer right in front of us.  Grr.  Headed home at 68 mph almost the entire way.

Whew!  Other stuff overload tonight.  Sure I’ve forgotten something.  See you next week.

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