Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Ft. Worth Four

The immediate family assembled in Ft. Worth, but it wasn’t easy. Getting everyone together for Family Weekend at TCU had its share of logistical challenges, which were made all the more complicated because our daughter recently added a part time job to all of her other activities. As luck would have it, she got called in for an eight hour shift on Saturday, so my wife and I went to the afternoon football game without her.

It was scorching hot by any standards. The afternoon sun was brutalizing Texas as temperatures approached triple digits. The Horned Frogs won handily, so as the fourth quarter approached we took off for our hotel where a shower and a nap proved irresistible.
Our son arrived separately, just in time for dinner at a downtown Italian restaurant.

He was a little bit of a celebrity. Our daughter brought along five of her closest college friends and most of their families, none of whom had met her brother. He charmed them all, of course. Then, after dinner there were mandatory group photos.

I’m a little chagrined that I bothered to change into long pants for all this, but we were meeting several of the other parents for the first time, as well. You need to make a decent impression.
We found our way to campus after dinner, where we spent time in our daughter’s apartment. As the evening wore on, though; we got kind of sleepy.
Not our son, though.
The 21-year-old Captain of the Night went completely against character and went by himself to check out Billy Bob’s Texas, a legendary Ft. Worth honky-tonk. Surrounded by hundreds, possibly thousands, of people in Wranglers and cowboys hats he was conspicuously out of place. Always on yellow alert, worrying that “I might get my ass kicked just for being me” he seemed to have fun nonetheless.
As the four of us got together for Sunday lunch, he told us his Billy Bob’s stories. I think ultimately his sister convinced him that not everyone in the place was some kind of ranch hand; it’s just that most of them dress up that way because they know where they’re going. (It’s much easier not to worry about getting your ass kicked when you blend in).
But, guess what? She had to go to work at one o’clock. So, we said our good-byes. She took off for the high-end women's store and we drove three and a half hours east back to our decidedly non-Texan lives. Still, we all agreed the weekend was very much worth the effort. We have no idea when the four of us will be together again. Our son summed it up best when he hugged his sister good-by, saying “See you again sometime in the future.”

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Clear Eyes and a Clear Head at Last

Finally, I'm feeling almost normal for the first time in 48 hours. It's my own fault because I couldn't resist the allure of a midweek college football road trip with my buddies. On an otherwise normal Thursday morning, we rolled out of Shreveport and drove wide-eyed to the east to watch LSU play a prime time TV game against Mississippi State in Starkville.

The game was fantastic. LSU dominated defensively and won, which was impressive considering they were on the road in a deafening hostile atmosphere against another nationally-ranked team.

We enjoyed the game and had a lot of fun on the road, telling the old stories and providing fodder for new ones.

Remember, it was Thursday. I didn't want to burn two vacation days; plus my friends work in local sports media and they had to be back for Friday Night Football. So, we drove back through the night. I had the first shift. All I seem to recall from the drive home is an endless ribbon of inky black highway striping relentlessly through Nowhere, Mississippi. At 2:00 a.m., I was essentially alone with one traveling companion snoring and the other contentedly drooling on a pillow while he leaned against a car window. That's when I began to question the sanity of my plan.

I turned driving duties over to Drooler shortly after that and caught a couple of hours' shuteye in the car. I walked into my house at 6:40 a.m., shaved, showered, put on a suit and went to work. Company policy forbids me from blogging about activities there, but I guess I can say I had a couple of important meetings I didn't want to miss. I made it through; and a couple of colleagues who knew I had gone to the game were giving me awestruck attaboys for even being there.

I'll tell ya, though; by the time I wrapped up my Friday Night Scoreboard show on the radio at 11:00 p.m., I was a worn-out human. Now that I've had a full night's sleep, I declare the trip was worth the trouble. In fact, I may just jump in the shower and go to another game tonight. I have tickets; I might as well use them. I'll sleep in January.

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

How Did I Get So Busy?

Football season is only two weeks old, and I think I already need some rest. It wasn’t that long ago I was complaining about being restless and bored. Two nights ago, I was pressed into duty as a public address announcer for two games at a local stadium. Then, the next night I was out until almost midnight hosting a local radio show.

Somehow, I was convinced to return to the airwaves for a Friday night scoreboard show. I thought I left sports broadcasting to get away from all that. (?)
It’s been fun, but I looked up and realized that if you combine the age of my broadcast partners, I’m still older than they are. Ouch. I guess it’s keeping me young.

Then, earlier today I was in the broadcast booth to call a game live on the radio. Let me think about this a little more. Didn’t I leave all this behind?

The real answer is, I guess not. This only happens during football season, and that’s how I like it.
It’s been a long day. I had to change clothes in a downtown parking lot in the middle of the afternoon in order to be appropriately dressed for the football game. I was up at the crack o’ dawn, hanging around the banks of the Red River as one of the announcer/ hosts for a dragon boat festival.

It was a spectacular late summer day, the festival was rollicking and the races were intensely competitive.

The best news: my beautiful bride volunteered to work in a booth near me for several hours, so at least we got to be together.

I’ve had fun, done a little community volunteer work and earned some walking-around money while immersing myself in sports. Who’s complaining? Not me, although I’m kind of sick of the sound of my own voice.
I need a nap.

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Saturday, September 03, 2011

No Cheering - Really

(Arlington, TX) – At its core, this is a football game; but it’s also a cultural event. LSU’s season opener in Dallas-Ft. Worth is kind of “north Louisiana’s game,” because the drive is so easy for people who live along the I-20 Corridor. Conversely, a lot of the I-10 people chose not to make the drive because “it’s not Tiger Stadium.”
So, it’s a big event for the home area, and that has attracted a lot of local media who usually don’t work in and around sports. A high-profile local reporter, a long-time friend, wound up with a media pass. He's been doing feature stories about local fans in the days leading up to the game. It would be inaccurate and unfair to say he is an impartial observer, especially since he has a close personal relationship with an LSU player. He stuck around for a little while.

But he just couldn’t stand the constraints placed on him. (No cheering, no jeering, no loud proclamations of any kind). He had to leave. He actually preferred walking around the stadium without an assigned seat. He’s a football nomad, burning off energy and presumably cheering as loudly as he wants.
Decorum does not keep you from hanging out with your friends during halftime.

It’s been a close game through two quarters. Let’s hope all these old media pros can contain themselves.

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Heat Up That Tiger

(Arlington, TX) - It’s been a sweaty day for three-fourths of the family, as we anticipate the start of LSU’s football season. The game against Oregon in Cowboys Stadium has attracted Tiger fans from far and wide. My daughter has spent the day in the parking lot, selling sunglasses. I think business was brisk. It took my wife a long time to track her down, but finally she did…just moments before her cell phone’s battery died. That would have been a challenge.

It’s two high-level games in two days for our daughter, who was in Waco last night for TCU’s thrill-packed two-point loss to arch rival Baylor. She barely has a voice this evening. For her, it’s a cultural crossroads. A TCU student who grew up in Louisiana and has dozens of friends and acquaintances in school there, she can legitimately claim dual loyalty.

When we arrived at the stadium, the temperature was officially 104 degrees. I got into the air conditioning of the stadium while my wife was on her quest to find her daughter in the sweaty purple and gold sea. At one point, I got a text message that read “Can I tell you how much I’m sweating? OMG.” I can only imagine. So, when they finally reached their seats, they were flushed in the face, but all smiles.

The game matches up two top five teams. What a thrill to be here. It’s a fantastic way to start the season. Thank God football is finally here.

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