On the way to the Oakland Airport, I cut off a darting CHP unit while distracted by a massive cargo barge trying to navigate around Alameda. If you haven't seen these marine behemoths, imagine the burg of Corsicana floating on the Pacific filled with enough stuff to make your local Costco resemble a Mini Cooper's glove compartment. It was full of Al Queda explosives, dead Chinese stowaways, Somali pirates, and two dollar an hour Filipino contract sailors; an environment rife with cannibalism, karaoke, and sodomy. But now I gots Law to deal with. Officer Poncharelli asks me why I felt it necessary to impede his progress as he was just on the verge of solving Oakland's crime problem. Rather than respond, "Get off my ass, po-lice!" and pistol whip him with his own gun, I admit fault and suggest through my general demeanor that I haven't just stabbed a prostitute recently with a jagged Mr Pibb bottle. He lets me go without reprising Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant. Is there a better feeling than dodging a ticket? Dodging a cargo barge full of dead Chinese, I suspect.
My charmed life continues when my airplane row is filled by two winsome Asian girls who weigh 125 pounds combined. They spend the next three hours smelling nice, offering me gum and homemade snacks, taking up as much space as Todd Reesing, and giggling. This is in stark contrast to the fat Punjabi who bathed me in his farts for six hours whilst flying home from New Jersey the week previous. I haven't had a desire for curry since. And I love curry. So I read the Economist while my personal geisha serve my whims and soon I'm in Austin.
I immediately demand Mexican food, which is my Texan right. Like prima nocta on Texas State co-eds. Tomorrow, BBQ. Then chicken fried steak. And so on. But now my focus turns to
Saturday's Thursday's game against the Aggies...which I am told that if we win with sufficient STYLE we shall impress the coaches in Conference USA and they will consent to allow us the Big 12 Title. I immediately propose that Colt McCoy wear a top hat instead of his helmet and Sergio Kindle wear a monocle. Roy Miller should wear a yachtsman's cap and do classy things like light lady's cigarrettes and make puns in Latin.
I am low on Longhorn gear. I decide to restock at Sports Authorit-ah. I am struck with a few realizations. Hear me retail purchasing agents:
1. I am not Turtle from Entourage. I'm not interested in hats that are a graphic artist's abortion. I don't want a camo lid with a black Longhorn on it. I don't want a raised front that the wearer believes makes them look like Ice Cube. I want Texas Longhorns written in normal script or a simple T and the bill should be shapeable rather than jut straight out like I'm a hayseed from Mayberry.
2. Our color is burnt orange. Or white. Not fluorescent orange. Or melon. We're not the Tennessee Volunteers. I am not a Syracuse Orangeman. I am not a Dutch national. We're not navy blue or black. Burnt orange. White. Seriously.
3. No, I would not like a puffy Longhorn fleece vest.
For all of the stories you hear from Aggies about various depravities visited upon them in Austin, I saw a lot of people wearing maroon standing in Texas tailgates drinking beer and chatting peacefully surrounded by seas of Burnt Orange. I didn't even hear good-natured trash-talk. The biggest incident I saw was when an Aggie kid lost his cap while his Dad was carrying him and a Longhorn placed his Burnt Orange cap on the Aggie kid as a replacement while handing the Dad the dropped Aggie hat. Everyone chuckled good naturedly and then the crowd beat the small Aggie child to death.
I went to the South End Zone club because I love to drink $7.00 Bud Light! There I watched Jason Witten score and bust the century mark, assuring my Fantasy Team a number one seed in the playoffs. This pleased me and it allowed me to maintain good spirits.
The new stadium is impressive. There was a legit 98,600 there, everyone was hyped, and the North end zone is a paradise of convenient concessions and no-wait bathrooms. It also traps sound like a scorpion's fart; goddamn DKR can get downright intimidating. The fans were loud and it's clear that the changed acoustics have significantly increased our willingness to impact the game. I still despise our minotaur football player animated introduction, but I choked up when they showed the historical narrative piece and Freddie Steinmark popped up on the screen with the caption of Courage. I wasn't even born when he was on the 40 Acres, but I know my Longhorn lore.
The incessant corporatism is tiring, but bills need paying just like bitches need kicking. I'm left only with a logo-free youth to reflect on. I remember playing tackle football with friends in Memorial Stadium (the field wasn't named after an ambulance chaser then, we just called it the field) in plain sight of the grounds crew on a Sunday with nary a word of correction. Or running bleachers with the other fighters at Lord's boxing gym on Saturdays. At the risk of sounding like Mao, it was the People's Stadium and you didn't need an anal probe from Cleve Bryant to wander around it.
When I told a high school kid that there used to be a track around the field that I would jog on and a vacant space in the north end zone the size of Rhode Island, he did a quick eyeball measurement and then shook his head as if I was completely full of shit. When I was really young, all of the kids used to leave their parents around the middle of the 1st quarter to play under the bleachers in the old North end zone. This was before parents all became hyper-protective hysterics and children were allowed and encouraged to do things like disappear for three hours in a crowded stadium of strangers and return with shiners and dirty clothes without the National Guard being mobilized.
The Game Experience
The absence of Aggies was startling. They were confined to a small ghetto on the East end zone and the small scatterings of maroon throughout the stadium were noticeable only for their accompanying silence. When they began their alma mater, the students began a Texas Fight! cheer and I didn't hear a sound from our maroon friends for the rest of the game. Though the Corps did wave their towels admirably.
I'll deal with the game in another post, but I will mention that when Stephen McGee began his jackassery, the reaction of the Texas crowd around me was laughter, cries of "What an Aggie!", and shaking heads. McGee's behavior was regarded as an expression of clownish impotence. Had that been a Sooner or even a player from some generic team, the response would have been hostility and outrage, but the Aggies have returned to being an object of fun and derision. Trust me, the Aggies would rather be hated. McGee's last significant college memory is feebly taunting the Longhorn bench after being sacked, in a game the Aggies lose by 40 only because we didn't want them to lose by 50. I'm not being condescending when I say that I pitied McGee. I know that an 18 year old McGee went to bed gazing up at his ceiling knowing that he's a hell of a QB and that one day he'd lead the Aggies to a Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl win over a Michigan or Alabama. That must have seemed like a faraway place when his head hit the pillow last Thursday night and he reflected on his time at A&M.
The most startling thing about the end of the game was the total absence of "Poooooor Aggies!" by the Longhorn crowd. It has capped every Longhorn victory over A&M I've ever witnessed and I can tell you that there's nothing my Aggie friends hate more.
It was almost as if uttering the words was unneccessarily cruel, or worse, redundant.