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football, and also waffles

September 17, 2009

As someone who is still adjusting to the lawlessness of adulthood, travel on a whim – especially to odd, “why the hell would you want to go there?” places – is one of my favorite forms of entertainment.  This past weekend, the target oddity was Columbus, OH, originally for a big noisy college reunion at the USC-Ohio State game.  None of us had ever been to Columbus before, and all of us will go practically anywhere to watch good football, so why not?

Last-minute crises in everyone’s places of employ (adulthood perhaps not as lawless as I would like to think) reduced the trip to a two-woman expedition.  Fortunately, neither I nor friend AT –  original mastermind of the venture – were daunted by the prospect.  And so I return to the west coast to report that a football weekend in Columbus goes something like this:

– We exit the plane on Thursday night, garbed head-to-toe in USC gear, ready for anything.  After being deposited at our hotel, it occurs to us that our $9 LAX sandwiches were a long time ago, and that we have been subsisting for many hours on Southwest’s Nabisco® Selections .  We attempt to walk across the (very dark, very sidewalkless, possibly actually a freeway?) street in search of sustenance, and promptly have a near-death experience, as we are almost mown down by a stream of Mack trucks materializing out of the darkness.

– Chastened, we give up and eat at the Waffle House, located in the same parking lot as our hotel.  I unwisely order my waffle with strawberries, thinking of the pancakes I had at brunch last Sunday, which were strewn with sweet, whole berries.  Instead, the food article in question shows up mottled with a baked-in pink syrup — looking, in fact, rather as though it has the measles.  The waitress refers to me as “hon” but could clearly squash me with her pinky finger, so I eat it anyway.

(Waffle House menu.  Mysterious white substance pictured next to the eggs finally identified as grits.  Don’t laugh; Nobody eats grits where I’m from.)

coffee and menus, originally uploaded by pink_fish13.

– The next morning, we sally forth to see what there is to see.  We spend much of the day wandering up and down High Street and through the OSU campus.  I am never so happy as when I am on a campus, any campus, so I spend most of this time bouncing around and exclaiming over things like staircases and acorns.  (Really, though, their campus is lovely.  And huge.  Their library, correspondingly huge, nearly reduced me to tears.)

– We are two of what feels like nine people in the whole town who are wearing USC colors.  Being a pair of petite and decidedly non-threatening females, we try to make up for this by smiling a lot.  It seems to work:  Pretty much everyone is nice.

– Herman Melville wrote about the human propensity to gravitate towards the ocean, saying “Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries — stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region.”  Replace the word “water” with “tequila,” and you have an accurate description of the American twentysomething (or at least, all the twentysomethings I hang around with).  Using this unerring instinct, we locate a likely-looking bar on a street full of same, and order a round.   We almost fall off our stools when presented with the tab for a margarita and a Newcastle:  $4.75.  Columbus is our new favorite city in which to drink.

– Some hours later, we are being ushered past an interminable line into a nightclub throbbing with bass, and seated at a table which I am fairly sure was occupied by another party just moments before. Grey Goose is being poured, and I am having a long conversation with a Very Important Businessman about how he met his wife.  Between the fog machines, the endless chants of “O-H!” “I-O!”, and the excellent vodka, I am having a difficult time ascertaining what the hell is happening to me.

– Not enough hours later, I am blearily awake, and AT is standing over me in a towel, shouting, “GAMEDAY!”

– We are waiting in the hotel lobby for a cab.  Three middle-aged guys bound through the doors, each wearing a Waffle House ball cap adorned with a gold “Waffle House VIP” pin.  In speaking with them, it emerges that they have just eaten at that establishment for the first time ever, and their waitress bestowed caps on them as a reward.  We are aggrieved.  We were first-timers.  (Well, one of us.)  We were not given ball caps.  Resilient creatures that we are, we press on, hatless.

– It is 7 PM Eastern Standard Time.  Tailgating is over.  Michigan has narrowly beaten Notre Dame.  The band has come and gone. (Ohio State’s is impressive, by the way.) It is GAME TIME.  AT — who is five foot nothing, blonde, and bubbly — has completed a Hulklike transformation, and is now standing wild-haired on her seat, using an inexplicable lung capacity to bellow at our football team, the opposing football team, the coaches, the stadium, and the universe in general.  Several people seated in the row below us turn around, expecting to see a hirsute trucker type with a bandanna and a beer gut, and are instead confronted by the vision of our petite superfan going apoplectic in her “You can’t beat Pete” tee shirt.  She is the hit of the section.

(The Horseshoe, by the way, looks like this.  It’s awesome, in the older sense of the word, especially when it’s filled with 100,000 people who hate your guts.)

Ohio Stadium: Ohio State – USC., originally uploaded by bronder.

– Fourth quarter. USC is down, and keeps making stupid mistakes.  It seems impossible that we will win.

– We win.

– We go out, clearly.  We are double-fisting (well, the bar upstairs was crowded, and we didn’t want to have to fight our way back to it a second time, okay?) and basking in victory.  We make friends with a large group of Ohio State fans.  They teach us how to do the ubiquitous “O-H!” “I-O!” refrain, and we teach them a So-Cal Spellout, and then we spend some time merrily insulting each other’s cheers.

– There is a lot more drinking, a lot of walking, and a lot of hunting for a cab in another dark street having an identity crisis.  (Alley?  Freeway?  Who knows?)  Somewhere circa 4 AM, I pass out.

– For the third morning in a row, we are offended by our hotel’s shameless price-gouging:  $9 for a continental breakfast.  Dismissing as unbearably tacky the idea of sneaking into the nearby Quality Inn and passing ourselves off as their guests (because surely the Quality Inn knows that breakfast should be free), we once again end up at our new culinary haven.  This time, we are both smart enough to avoid anything with the word “strawberry” in the title, and I casually request that my hash browns be “well-scattered.”  We are the queens of the Waffle House.

– Secure in this title, we fly home.

I am going to do my very best to keep this from turning into a football blog this fall, because that is not really its purpose, but know that I am a little bit unhinged about college ball — and USC football in particular — so I am attempting a great deal of restraint here.  Stay tuned.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 17, 2009 3:01 am

    As long as you don’t start getting technical, then you can talk about football (well, handegg) all you want. My knowledge of the game is pretty much on the level of “fuck all”.

    I would love to go to a game like that just for the atmosphere. Oh and to shout at people despite not knowing anything.

    • Kate permalink*
      September 17, 2009 4:22 am

      Handegg?? That’s brilliant. That’s so much more accurate.

  2. September 22, 2009 4:15 am

    I lied to you and had to read an entry.

    Can you be any cooler? For serious.

    • Kate permalink*
      September 22, 2009 5:35 am

      Aw, shucks.

      Glad you’re here, on the other side of the great LJ divide.

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