Football season is a celebration unto itself; the anticipation, the energy, the pageantry and THE TAILGATING make a football game the climactic experience of each fall week. But now the unthinkable has happened…I have to give up drinking for at least 8 weeks. That's fifty-six days. 1344 hours. 80,640 seconds. If you do the math, that means pretty much all of football season. I'm basically on injured reserve and it started last week before the Ohio State game.
You might be wondering what kind of condition I might have that could be so dire, so life threatening, that I would be willing to succumb to a life without college football and cervezas. My heart must be in pretty bad shape, huh? Nope, the ticker's fine. Then it must be my brain, right? The ol' sponge needs a little labotomizing? Probably, but that's not why I'm taking medication. Tell me it's at least high cholesterol, then. Believe you me, I would love for that to be the case but it's not. The reason I have to quit drinking is because of my feet. That's right, my freakin' hushpuppies!
OKAY HERE'S THE DEAL, I don't actually have toes, I have talons. My toe/talons are these grotesque, misshapen, razor-sharp appendages that operate independently of my central nervous system. I can no longer control them. Just last week while I was at the beach hanging out on the pier, my left foot suddenly careened off the side and the next thing I knew there was a mackerel gigged between my middle and pinky toes (my pinky toes, by the way, are a subject for another day. I don't have time to get into their tale now, but I will tell you that it's an epic tale involving rubbing alcohol, mass hysteria and Armageddon). My girlfriend was completely freaked out by the whole incident. So while the mackerel was tasty- I enjoy sushi a lot- I knew the time had finally come to seek help (that and my girlfriend has exercised her womanly right to withhold intimacy from me until I take care of the "talon issue").
As fate would have it, the only medication that will turn my Mr. Hydes back into Dr. Jeckylls is called Lamisil. Lamisil is extremely hard on the liver. And apparently my liver is already a quasi-functioning organ from what my blood tests divulged. So when I asked my doctor if I could still have a few teeny, tiny, little beers for a few hours each Saturday, the doctor looked at me like I had just said the "n" word and over-annunciated the word "NO." I tried to tell the doc that my liver was a liar and a cheat and couldn't be trusted, but she didn't want to hear that see. So there we are, no Shinerbock for me. Now I'm a friggin' human Utah.
ANYWAY, having watched the game last Saturday in a completely coherent state, I noticed some significant differences between watching a football game stone-cold sober and a little tipsy. The biggest difference is that watching a football game sober is lame. I finally confirmed a long-running but untested theory of mine: sobriety blows. If that makes me an alcoholic for saying so than so be it, color me W.C. Fields. I was practically neutered watching the Ohio State game. I should have been punching holes in the wall, drop-kicking the cats and spewing split-pea soup throughout the whole game.
Instead, I found myself sipping Iced Jasmine Tea and uttering such idle clichés as: "boy, that Krenzel seems like a good kid." And "doggone it, that wasn't an interception, the guy dropped the ball. Geez Louise, ref." And "holy moly, that was close! T.A deserved the touchdown but the ref didn't see it that way, I guess. Ah shoot." I then turned off the game and went about my lame day doing lame things around my lame house. I might as well have put on a cardigan, cranked up the NPR and began smoking a pipe. My girlfriend points out how productive I've become, but I would take happy over productive any day.
Superman had kryptonite, Sampson had Fantastic Sam's and college football fans have sobriety. I'm not advocating over-indulgence (necessarily), but a completely beer-free life certainly isn't the answer either; it's almost intolerable. It's like watching "Porky's" fully edited on the USA network. Now I know why people who don't drink are so boring; they're defeated. How excited can you be if all that you have to look forward to are your own, stupid, clear thoughts. I like the goofy junk I come up with after a few Shiners. Without the aid of liquid stimulation, the Minnesota Moosejackets (my bowling team/legion of superheroes) and American Standard (the garage band my friends and I have been meaning to resurrect for the last three years) wouldn't exist.
Caffeine is not a viable substitute, by the way. It's great in the morning with the paper to get the proverbial ball rolling, but it's no more an acceptable alternative to a couple of cold ones than yoga is. I remember seeing a t-shirt one time that read, "if you're not wasted, the day is." That might be going a bit overboard, but take it from someone who's on the outside looking in, it's a lot closer to the bulls-eye than it is from being off the board.
THERE ARE CERTAIN PHRASES about certain people that automatically cause one's eyebrows to arch. Para example: "Performing today's bris is guest rabbi Lorena Bobbit." Or "Next on Inside the Actor's Studio, two-time Academy Award winner, Asthon Kutcher." And finally, "Coaching 101 with John Bunting, ‘You listen to what I tell you, and go from there'."
Just before football season started it was reported in the press (as well as this little dog-and-pony column) that Bunting was only about wins and losses. He boasted that he was only concerned with winning the ACC title and finishing fourth would hardly be worthy of celebration. Those were his words, mind you, not mine.
Now, a few weeks later and the Heels are 0-2 on the verge of going 0-4 (after they play Wisconsin this weekend and us in two weeks), the good coach has softened his stance. Here's a quote from just the other day, "I know it gets boring to hear this, but I'm not going to talk (with players) about a certain number of wins," Bunting said. "I'm only going to talk about getting better. I know where we started, and I feel very positive about where we're going. ... I love to win, hate to lose, but I'm not going to allow the focus to be totally on that."
I only point this out because hypocrisy- along with mind-numbingly, oblivious grocery shoppers- are my pet peeves. Try finding any contradictions in Coach Amato's quotes. I've looked and I haven't found any. Now that I'm not drinking I feel compelled to stand on my soapbox and point a finger at people.
A COUPLE OF QUICK SIDE NOTES to put in your back pocket. If you haven't seen "Finding Nemo," "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Open Range" or "Lost In Translation" go see them before they leave the theater; all four will be prevalent come Oscar time. Johnny Depp, Kevin Costner and Bill Murray could all very well find themselves up for Best Actor (and Robert Duvall up for Best Supporting), they're all outstanding. Just an fyi for a rainy day.
AS FOR THIS WEEK'S GAME, if there are torrential downpours at Carter-Finley: N.C. State 26, Texas Tech 14.
If there aren't torrential downpours: N.C. State 56, Texas Tech 28.
Stay safe and stay tuned…