So no Gamecock football this past weekend. Meh, mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m sure the team needed a physical and mental break, and I needed to catch up on some around-the-house responsibilities unencumbered by beer drinking, fist pounding, and painful screaming. On the other hand, I love Gamecock Football, SO GIVE ME MY FOOTBALL SATURDAY, DAMN IT.
I would have called my TRC compatriots to commiserate, but I figured that Buck was busy coaching a youth football game or saving a kitten from a tree or something. Gman was most assuredly working . . .again . . . still . . . again. My wife is, as many of you have already gathered, a UGa alum, so no help there.
So it was just me and my list of chores and my fevered thoughts.
I decided to start with a long overdue trip to the recycling station. Once there I was met by two helpful attendants wearing orange (only one was an SCDC inmate). Quoth one attendant to the other, “This fella’s a chicken fan, you see that?” He pointed at the USC tag on my car and raised his heavy, untrimmed eyebrows knowingly. The other (the inmate) then smiled a one-toothed grin at me and thoughtfully postulated: “He’s just mad cause Garcia finally got kicked off the team. ‘Bought time, you ask me – always up to no good.”
I wanted to protest that I was A. not mad at all, and B. in fact slightly bemused at the irony of an inmate maligning a graduated college athlete. But knowing that neither of these observations would serve to shorten the recycling transaction, I chose instead to chuckle good-naturedly and finish unloading my bottles and cans. I did notice in my rear view mirror as I drove away that the two coworkers were revelling in their perceived witt. Eh, I don’t fault them, as they literally work in a trash dump.
Next on the list was the purchase of a new drain pipe for our laundry room sink. Hard experience has taught me to avoid the nearby Dollar General, which certainly had the needed part, but also serves as a makeshift tailgating spot for several Clemson fans in our neighborhood (NO, I AM NOT KIDDING. AND NO, I DON’T LIVE ANYWHERE NEAR THE CTU CAMPUS). I think they understand the snack aisle at Dollar General to be a form of tailgating as it is usually heavily orange for Halloween from very early in the fall.
I also passed on the local Super Walmart, as all local Walmart employees are required, apparently, to reference Dabo Sweeney in any conversation they might have with a customer. Any routine query is answered with “as Dabo says . . .” or “according to Dabo . . . ” The Home Depot was also out as again, the orange color scheme causes the slack-jawed fan base to mindlessly congregate therein.
Instead I travelled all the way to Lowes, an inconvenient distance, but a solid choice in other respects. Unfortunately, no sooner had walked through the sliding entry doors than Randy, an old high school classmate of mine, accosted me with a rowdy “Wooooo! Tigers gonna kick some Carolina Wolfpack rear end today!” Now, a couple of notes, here: A. Randy has no idea about my football loyalties as we aren’t that close, and B. His understanding of mascots is solidly in the fat part of the bell curve of all CTU fans. That to the side, Randy is something of a tragic figure, so I just nodded and walked on by. See, he was a plumber by trade (if not by official licensure) but was forced by the lagging economy to take a job as a Lowes shopping cart collector. I also know from previous conversations with him that his boss, the head of the customer service department, actually holds a degree from Clemson in “business”, which qualifies him perfectly to supervise the Lowes Return Desk in Randy’s learned opinion.
Regardless, I quickly located the part, allthewhile deftly avoiding engagement with two red-jacketed stock clerks who were relating CJ Spiller anecdotes (CJ spoke at their megachurch a few weekends ago, evidently). From the smatterings of the conversation I did sadly overhear, they were repeating a Spiller bon mot regarding his woefully low “NFL Wonderkid” score and how it was evidence of the great academic support system for athletes at CTU, given CJ’s status as an honor graduate of the institution.
Soon afterward, Randy spied me in the check-out line and ran -literally sprinted- over to me to ask if I heard the latest joke about Spurrier’s house getting egged. I told him I had not, but understood if Garcia was a prime suspect since only 3 of the dozen eggs actually hit the house. Randy blinked, confused by my hijacking of his witticism, and stared at me dumbfounded. I wished him a happy weekend and departed without further incident.
As I pulled back into my driveway, I noticed my neighbor throwing football with his first-grade son. The tableau would have made a nice fall photograph, except both of them were wearing orange from head-to-toe. I waved to them and attempted to quickly enter my house, but failed as the dad called me over to “settle an argument” he was having with his son. I walked over, hoping to be helpful, and slightly flattered that my opinion was valued in this domestic interaction.
“Is,” my neighbor asked, “Sammy Watkins just the greatest football player in Clemson history, or is he the greatest player in the history of the entire State?” I coughed, and then explained that, upon quick reflection over Mr. Watkins’ six game resume, I was unable to render such a judgment at this time. I also added that I thought he was, in fact, a very talented freshman and I looked forward to following his college career. The son then piped up snottily that Watkins was “wwwaaaayyyy better than Allison Jeffery, ain’t he?” I reassured the kid that, yes, Watkins was better than Allison could ever dream of being (wherever she is).
Once inside, I decided to unwind by watching a little of the UNC/CTU game. On first glance, it appeared that the UNC Defensive Coordinator had solved the rubik’s cube that is Tajh Boyd, as on the initial series I witnessed, he actually brought pressure and made Mr. Einstein move his feet a little. After a quick three and out, however, the baby blue coaches proceeded to abandon this working solution and went with a soft zone thereafter. Needless to say, by halfway through the third quarter I was sufficiently motivated to immediately undertake my household plumbing project poste haste.
Later that evening I was distracted from raking leaves by a phone call from a friend, Dan. I’ve known Dan for a couple of years, and while he isn’t much of a sports fan, but he is usually a nice guy, so I answered with happiness. Dan began the conversation thusly: “Hey, I was just watching the Clemson game, ain’t that Dabo something? You know I’ve always loved Clemson, I just don’t talk about it too much. You’re a Carolina fan aren’t you? Well, it must suck to be you about now, eh buddy? What’s the all time record between Clemson and SC anyway?” I tried to point out that SC had won three of the last five in the series, and that I fully expected another victory this year, but Dan only responded by asking excitedly where he could “buy some orange.”
“The Dollar General,” I answered, and hung up.