Badger Nation forum legend, The Monsignor, regales Badger Nation in a four-part series, rewriting pages from his journal about his own edification and learnings about the 2008 Outback Bowl trip.

The Outback Bowl Diaries: The Final Saga

The opposite of talking isn't listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.

-- Fran Lebowitz

It is still windy and cooler, like a nice fall day, but the locals are freaking out in mittens and scarves. No reason not to sleep in, and then slowly come back to life, making coffee and a glass of Glenfarclas at the same time, trying to polish off this excellent brown liquor, this nectar of the gods, before the day becomes too old.

The Traveling Salvation Show is already dispersing, as Bro Dave is gone and TAW, X and Chico are on their way out of here. The Mist (Yes!) and I spend a lazy day, taking our goodbyes, ideas of visiting the Don Cesar later being bandied, with one very funny exchange:

"My hair is weird today," I pronounce as I stare into the mirror.

"What ?!?!" asks the Mist (Yes!).

"I said ‘My hair is weird today'."

"Oh," she says, breaking into nearly uncontrollable laughter. "I thought you said your hearing was weird today."

We do eventually get out of the hotel room, and drive down the Gulf Boulevard to the Don Cesar. The changes in the various cities and villages as we traverse the gulf road are quite telling, from upscale residential palaces to high-rise condos to smaller bungalows to commercial strips. We meet El Tio and La Tia at the bar in the Don Cesar, the great pink lady of the beach, a wonderful resort, and enjoy a couple of martinis and some appetizers.

We are also trying to arrange a dinner with Sistah Barb and the JJs, but somehow that doesn't seem likely as the night is wearing on. We buy some more of the very interesting stuff from the Don Cesar, which is always like a step back in time to the early 1960s, before the war, before the assassination, when it felt like things were breaking free of the 50s but all that terrible stuff hasn't yet started to come down, a time when Allen Ginsberg, the Rat Pack, and Jack Kerouac were still cool, and there was this new kid singing folk music in Greenwich Village. A time and place you'd sit and drink a martini.

Even better than that was Bob Heilman's Beachcomber Restaurant, which the Uncles talked us into trying for a late night dinner. There is a guy tinkling the piano, playing Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, and the 60s-style abstract art is on the walls, with white Naugahyde benches around some of the tables, and a relish tray to start the meal. Another place you could drink martinis, or scotch for that matter, and this is a wonderful place that we will surely recommend if we ever get back this way again. I had a great piece of fish and everybody loved the meal but we never did ask, "Who the heck Bob Heilman?"

Everything comes if a man will only wait.

-- Benjamin Disraeli

We leave Florida in a hurry, forgetting to wait to say goodbye to Sistah Barb and the JJ's, the only ones left here in Tampa. They leave later today. It is a quick ride to Orlando, although it is quite chilly, in the 30's, this morning. The plane leaves on time, and I begin ordering the last few scotches. The trip home is smooth.

We are approaching the Midwest, and now we see snow on the ground, something we haven't seen in nearly a week. The Irish Mist (Yes!) leans over to me, and whispers that she enjoys traveling with me. The residue of discombobulation and disappointment dissipates. We are on our way home, snowy, cold, home.

It will be a long wait for more Badger football.

-- The Monsignor

Read Part One Here

Read Part Two Here

Read Part Three Here

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