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Midway of Sorrow: A Have-Your-Adventure-Chosen-For-You Story

Part 4 in the ongoing "Catastrophe at the State Fair" series

It is morning.

The sun shines upon your face, and you feel assured that fortune favors you. There is a spring in your step – owing in part to the two liters of Bloody Mary coursing through your system – and a song in your heart. That song is Texas Fight. At some point, you've caught the attention of your spouse / significant other / seemingly attractive person with whom you briefly made eye contact, and frankly, you like your chances to close the deal later. All is still well.

Into the fairgrounds you go! Why, it's almost as if Big Tex is looking directly at you, welcoming you and you alone into his exotic world of fried delights and games of chance. Did he just wink at you? I THINK HE DID!

Time to layer some funnel cake down as an absorbent base, and hit up the flask you have smuggled upon your person. Perhaps a little ring toss is in order. You wonder if that man standing there is a carnie or an OU fan. You decide that the answer is "yes". You lose at ring toss, but that shit is rigged anyway. Undeterred, you decide it is time for corny dogs and rides. How are you going to play this?

You have vomited.

Here's hoping that no one saw that, beyond the poor family that you just painted at high speed with tomato juice, fried batter and processed meat remnants. This bodes poorly for the remainder of the day, I'll be honest with you.

Time to head into the stadium and get to down to business. You survey the field and note that the defense isn't even lined up correctly for pre-game stretches. No matter. The opponent has no offensive line, a jittery meth addict playing quarterback and maybe half of a capable wide receiver, at best. You are unconcerned.

You've won the coin flip and get to dictate the complexion of the game's opening series. How should you handle it?

The kickoff goes through the end zone for a touchback.

High five and/or make out with someone nearby, because this officially marks the zenith of your day. You don't know it yet, but everything from here forward is an emotional meat grinder churning out a sausage comprised of despair, rage and embarrassment, with notes of thyme and cumin. You proceed, unaware.

The opponent marches steadily and methodically toward your end zone for the first of many touchdowns, but the PAT is blocked and returned the other way for a 2-point conversion. Mercifully down only 6-2, you comment to no one in particular that when the offense scores a TD here, Texas will be up by a field goal. It feels good to say this.

But you do not score a touchdown. In fact, you do not make forward progress toward the opposite end zone. So, you punt, which is fine because the defense should have its legs by now. And they do! Holy shit, a 3-and-out, and you have the ball again… how do you attack the defense?

The run goes for 3 yards.

What next?

The run goes for 2 yards.

And now?

The pass goes for 3 yards.

Congratulations, you get to punt, and it's a doozy! OU will take over near their own goal line, and they are fully 95 yards up shit creek with no paddle. You're now winning the field position game, and that's something. Baby steps.

Uh oh, look out… the running back has just sprung unmolested through a driveway-sized hole in the line, and he's heading right at two defenders. How best to handle it?

Oh shit.

There he goes. That is not good at all.

OK, just down a couple of scores, no problem. You're confident that things are going to pick up anytime now, and all of this unpleasantness will get sorted out. And by "confident", I of course mean "in shock from trauma and shielding your fragile psyche from the sickening reality of the situation".

Three quick and thoroughly ineffectual plays later, and it's time to punt again. There seems to be somewhat of a pattern emerging here. You reach for your trusty flask, and briefly contemplate the wisdom of investing yourself emotionally in the somewhat arbitrary outcomes of games played mostly by teenagers and those who are too young to legally consume alcohol. Is this any way to live?

The Sooners have scored another touchdown.

SON OF A BITCH I MUST BE FUCKING KIDDING YOU. This is getting a little ridiculous now. You watch helplessly as your running backs plow directly into waiting tacklers, and footballs ricochet wildly off of your tight ends like so many ball bearings hurled at steel girders. More punting ensues. You wonder if that's the same guy kicking every time, and how his groin hasn't torn in half yet.

Now OU runs an exotic play called "throw to the fullback", and he's lumbering down the sideline towards traffic. Stop him!

The fullback runs for 73 yards.

Adding insult to all of the other insult, you realize that Texas has been flagged for trying to tackle an official on the sideline. You are somewhat less than surprised to learn that the attempt was unsuccessful, leaving the player flat on his ass while the official continues down the field upright. Of course, this doesn't matter either way, because Blake Bell is perfectly comfortable scoring from wherever the ball is spotted, which he does.

On the second play of the ensuing drive, magic finally happens. A beautiful 31 yard strike to Davis on the sideline, who manages to get his feet down AND THAT IS A FIRST DOWN EVERYBODY GIVE ME A SIREN WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. In enemy territory, it's time to attack. What do you do?

The pass is intercepted.

DAMMIT. OK, let's not freak out. This is definitely bad. You know this is bad. There has to be something that we can do here. Let's just not panic. Hey, they had to punt! TO THE ONE YARD LINE? SERIOUSLY?!? Shit shit shit what do you call here?


OU drives for another touchdown.

Your soul is now fully demolished. In the void it leaves, there is only deep-fried sadness and regret. Your flask, too, is empty, but you lack the will to fill it with anything but possibly cyanide. You think better of this, and fashion a crude eyepatch from a discarded game program and your shoelaces. You can now see just one of the field again, which is both good and bad.

Time passes. Everything is on fire. There are bodies, so many bodies. The 3rd quarter comes and goes, and you are dimly aware that Texas has scored somehow. Maybe we're coming back? It seems unlikely, but it looks like Ash is still in there, so it must be in reach. It's 4th and long, what do you do?

Your quarterback has been crushed into a cube.

You are fairly certain that you can see the bone coming out of his arm. It is now time to leave.

Being that you are no longer welcome at the midway, you wander aimlessly, emboldened by your eyepatch, trying to find a Sooner to fight. You come to realize that they are all still in the stadium. Then you remember your spouse / significant other / attractive person with whom you briefly made eye contact. There's still a chance to end the day with something positive, how do you close the deal?

You do not close the deal.

This has been a catastrophic failure in every sense. Go back the beginning and try again next year.