Thursday, September 18, 2008


I arrived in South Bend late Friday night after my flight from Chicago was canceled, and Paul generously drove the 3.5 hours each way (woulda been 2 if it weren't for Friday night traffic) to come pick up my sorry ass and drive me back to the Eastern Daylight Timezone.

All this was to ensure that we could go to the football game on Saturday. Paul had looted the Notre Dame bookstore in search of a t shirt that was cool enough for me, and had seven (yes, seven!) shirts for me to choose from. He also had Notre Dame emblazoned ponchos for each of us as it was supposed to rain all day.

First thing Saturday morning, we drove through the rain to the airport to pick up my luggage which had arrived late the previous night, then met up with a few of his friends for breakfast. Homemade bacon egg and cheese sandwiches to be precise. I had forgotten how good American bacon is. Australian bacon is closer to what the British serve. It's floppy and greasy, not crispy and stripey like they do it back here. It was a good base for the next 16 or so hours.

About 15 people had gathered for breakfast and we were all riding over to the tailgate in the back of a truck. However, with the rain pouring, Paul and I opted to sit in the cab. Which was a wise move considering all the water that got tossed back on to the lot of them. At the tailgate, there were two tents where we all milled around. It's tough to start drinking at 10am, but sometimes, you've just gotta do what you've gotta do. Nothing was going to make us much drier. About an hour or so into the tailgate it stopped raining, the clouds parted, and it actually became a really nice, if a little muggy, day. And then the people came out, if it had been crowded under the tents in the rain before it was nothing compared to the throngs of graduate students that are drawn out with the sunshine and some cheap beer.

Next, it's game time, we trudge through the parking lot and up to the gate. I have one of Paul's friend's student IDs and her ticket. I don't look too much like Margot, but no one seems to take any notice. Game starts at 4 or so, and after a good morning of drinking some people are hanging better than others. Ushers are aggressive in pulling any one out who seems to be stumbling. Our seats are pretty much just in the end zone and one section up. There are benches, but no one is sitting, every one stands on the bench the entire game.

First touchdown goes to ND. The crowd goes wild. All across the stadium, fans are picking up a friend in a push up position and tossing them in the air once for each point. Seven push ups for the first touchdown, fourteen for the second, twenty-one for the third before Michigan serves up a single point. Brilliant. ND is known as a good football school, but recently, they've sucked. The fans are diehards, but the team just hasn't come to the games. So a shut out game thus far is making people crazy. Michigan did score ten points in the first half, but I think we all went into halftime feeling pretty positive about the Irish.

Then the clouds rolled back through, and a fine sprinkle appeared. Throughout the crowd was the movement of jackets and ponchos being donned. Unfortunately, we had tucked our safely away in some one's car at the tailgate. We had no ponchos. By the time ND had scored another touchdown we were drenched. And the rain just didn't let up. At one point there was a veritable waterfall flowing down the stairs. It was probably a good thing for the Irish since it meant that every thing was slippery: the ball, the lawn, the linebackers. Both teams each scored another touchdown, but when the clock ran out the score was 35 to 17 ND. The first game Paul has been to that they won. I think I deserve a little credit on this one.

Maybe it's living in Queensland, but hanging out in soaking denim and a tshirt just gets cold after a few hours. We followed the crowd after the game, through the mud and rain to a bar. Ordered some extra large beers and a grilled cheese sandwich, and tried to warm up in Paul's roommate's enormous and thoroughly soaked coat. It did the job mostly. But nothing warms you up more than getting your boogy on. The bar itself was a throw back to good old fraternity basements, with a mix of beer, mud and I-don't-wanna-know that works its way between the toes when you're dancing in flip flops.

At midnight or so, we left to head home without really thinking about how we might get home. Something we probably should have thought of before venturing out, once again, into the pouring rain. The bar is about a 30 minute walk from Paul's house, which we started. About 10 minutes into the walk a kindly cab driver in a minivan stopped for us. When we opened the door we discovered he already had a fair. In fact, he had two. There were 4 people in the cab. We crawled into the back next to the girl who claimed she didn't mind sitting next to sopping wet people. We dropped her and her friend off at the bar we'd just come from, then drove to the other side of town to drop off the other two people (one of which could not believe how old we were! Paul likes to impress people by telling them I'm almost thirty. I hope this will wear off when he turns 29 in November). We offered to pick up the tab on the two kids getting out immediately before us. Then we picked up another pair of people on the way to Paul's who in turn offered to pick up our tab. What a charitable place!

All in all South Bend got over 10.5 inches of rain (that's 267mm) in just one day. That's more rain than the place has seen in 40 years. We were a part of history.


  © Blogger template 'Solitude' by 2008 | Photo by Jaredflo

Back to TOP