It's been almost a week since the Virginia Tech game, I've gotten pretty good at telling the story.
Late in the second half, after the fumble return for a touchdown, West Virginia lined up for a third down conversion. I stood up, and after we allowed their conversion, I did not sit down. For lots of reasons really: it felt like a crucial series, it was beautiful out, I needed to stretch my leg, I wanted to feel the excitement of drives that mattered again, and then, out of pure spite.
Because a couple plays after the third down, the fans behind me - Purdue fans, that is - started their cat calling.
"Hey, Pinkie! Come on, sit down. " I was wearing pink shorts.
"You look like you sit down at home." Clever, I do have a couch.
At this point, with a few minutes left in the first half and a few more conversions given away, I was determined to stand the rest of the game.
And then the second half started, and standing there, feeling the edges of a dark horizon coming for the Purdue football team, a cop approached me to sit down. My initial incredulous question of 'This is a football game, right?' gave way to respect of the badge. I sat down, seething. I lasted two minutes before I made a quick exit and found someone with a walkie talkie who contacted security.
I asked them, since apparently this was a police issue, "When was I allowed to stand?"
Their response, "When your team is doing well."
This is Purdue football, brother, there won't be anyone standing again.
As the writer of a drink of the week column, it's probably no surprise I didn't go to the game sober. My best friend was in town for the first time since he left for Japan to teach English a couple years ago with his Japanese girlfriend. A group of us took them to the game to celebrate, to reminisce, to cover ourselves in gold and nostalgia and cheer for our team, like old times.
I waited almost a week to write this column to give myself some time to just calm down, gather clarity, and try to find some perspective. I was angry, whether alcohol induced or not, at something not worth getting into here with how all this was dealt with. I could have handled it better myself - been an adult, accepted their compromise of moving to the student section, or just sucking it up and not acting like being told to sit down at a football game was some kind of major social injustice compared to what some people on a daily basis have to deal with being told by authority figures who only care about the power of that authority.
The eureka moment, my epiphany, came slowly as the week went by. As the calm started to take over again, and then it crystallized in one moment, during one conversation about Indiana people in general.
We are, when it comes to sports especially, fickle. It's why we could never have a major league baseball team. It's why the Pacers struggle to sell tickets even though we're a 'basketball' state. If we're not threatening for a championship, we don't care. That's why Ross-Ade has been so abandoned for so many years. There's no championship in sight. Hate Burke if you want, but he might be the only man in Indiana that truly realizes this. We were never going to care about college football, not like other parts of the country. It was never going to be oxygen for our screams of delight, or the petrol for our rage. It's Purdue football, it is what it is. Even our basketball team's ticket sales dipped from a couple years of disappointment.
We'll move on, do something else. For good or bad, if we're not playing for gold. We'd rather sit than stand for too long. Oh well.
Drink of the Week:
Named after a family of patrons at the bar that introduced me to this drink, The Gallivan is everything we strive for here at the Drink of the Week headquarters. It's simple - only two ingredients. It's readily available, and surprisingly a lot of people haven't considered the combination. It's vanilla on vanilla, but it's not as sweet as you'd think. It can absolutely be an all day drink, but careful, delicious is almost always closely connected with dangerous. I will say, if you want to get fancy, go to the Lafayette Brewing Company and get a growler of the root beer they make in house and kick this drink up a notch. It's less than four dollars for a growler, and if you go on Monday you get a dollar off that. So, again, cheap, simple, and delicious. Need I say more?
So here's to Buster, and drinking local. Here's to knowing who you are and accepting it. And here's to standing up when everyone else wants to sit.