Ever since I became obsessed with America, which I estimate to be somewhere around 1993---but which could actually be traced to a moment six years earlier in my school library in Hong Kong, when I picked up this horribly outdated 1970s-era book entitled something like "America: We Swear This Is What It's Like," featuring pictures of orange Camaros parked at gas stations and people wearing bell bottoms eating hot dogs in stadiums---I have wanted to go to a football game.
I have, in fact, had "go to a football game" on my Big Important List of Very American Things To Do for as long as I can remember, despite the fact that I don't really know anything about football. My Big Important List of Very American Things To Do, you see, is sort of like Maggie Mason's fabled Life List, except it involves a lot more jello salad. (The jello salad is one of the things on it that I have actually managed to accomplish. The remainder is a mishmash of frat parties, high school reunions, diners, pep rallies, sock hops, and homecoming dances. I don't even know if pep rallies and sock hops even exist anymore. Do you think I watched Grease one too many times as a child?)
There is something about football that is just so American. It is so American, in fact, that English people don't just call it football, they call it American Football, the better to distinguish it from English football (soccer to you), which is just called football to us. (Is this confusing you yet?) It's kind of like how American people call English muffins English muffins, but English people just call them muffins. (But what do English people call muffins? Why, American muffins, of course! For real!)
So when our very kind friend Nathan and his wife invited us with them to the Stanford-ASU game on Saturday night---in special fancy VIP-style seats, no less---we jumped at the chance. It didn't hurt, of course, that we have recently discovered the joys of Friday Night Lights, only the best television show in the history of television shows (cover your ears, My So Called Life. You didn't hear it from me.) Because, Internet, I have to admit that in a distant part of my brain, a very, very, very tiny part of me was entirely convinced that Tim Riggins was going to be there.
I swear, when I thought about going to the Stanford game, I could totally imagine Coach Taylor pacing the field in his windbreaker, Lyla Garrity sitting prettily in the stands, Matt Saracen's grandma and her enormous plastic glasses purchasing a hot dog during the halftime show. I have, after all, something of a problem separating television shows from real life upon occasion, which would make me a very good candidate to write creepy fan fiction if I ever decided that was the direction I wanted my life to go.
(But hey! Let's hope it isn't! The world does not need more crazy letters to Sara Gilbert from teenage girls who aren't entirely convinced that she isn't actually Darlene!)
When one goes to a football game, one has to tailgate---it's all part of the experience, I'm told, and my sweet friends were extremely dedicated to ensuring that their neophyte pal got the full experience---and so a little light pre-game tailgating is exactly what we did. Since we were a) in California and b) none of us the biggest fans of baked beans, our particular tailgating involved takeout pizza and wine. This made it pretty much the best picnic in a parking lot I have ever had:
And just as we were sipping the last of our Chardonnay with our pinkie fingers raised delicately in the air, who should walk past us, not ten feet from where we were sitting, but former Secretary of State---as well as former Stanford provost---Condoleezza Rice, who appeared to be en route to the stadium. Look, I even took a very blurry picture of her!
"That was Condoleezza Rice!" we said, and "Hey, we should Twitter that we just saw Condoleezza Rice!" Except no-one could remember how to spell Condoleezza Rice, and whether it had two Ls or two Zs or two Es, and so in the end no-one Twittered that we'd just seen Condoleezza Rice, which is just as well actually, because when you've only got 140 characters to work with, "Condoleezza" is going to take up a heck of a lot of them.
Upon entering the stadium, Internet, I am not afraid to tell you that I was just a smidge overcome with emotion. Of all the things that make me slightly verklempt---orchestras, national anthems, old people, two men on stage bending their heads to sing into a microphone at the same time---walking into a stadium crowded with fans is certainly right up there, which, again, is pretty weird given my general ambivalence towards sports, but there you go. I'm sure that 70s-era storybook is to blame.
Stanford's official color, by the way, is a sort of dark cherry red, and since I couldn't seem to find anything in my wardrobe in a dark cherry red---nor could Sean, bizarrely; apparently it is just not our hue, I guess we're both Springs rather than Autumns---my only concession to school spirit was these ancient ballet flats I forgot I had, so I decided they would just have to do for both of us. Also, I cheered extra hard to make up for it.
Wow. Those are actually kind of dirty. I had no idea.
Part of our fancy VIP ticket included a special pass to take a secret elevator up to the roof like celebrities and watch the game from there, which we did at halftime. There was food up there and free cans of soda, and also two very large dispensers of water and lemonade boasting official-looking labels on them saying STANFORD WATER and STANFORD LEMONADE. We all joked about drinking special official STANFORD WATER and STANFORD LEMONADE, but then when I downloaded the photos I'd taken of the labels this morning---that's how awesome they were, so awesome that I actually took pictures of them---I realized that they actually say Stanford Catering Water and Stanford Catering Lemonade (except the catering part is in really tiny letters), which kind of makes them not so hilarious after all. I mean, there I was thinking I was going to invent the next Google, just from drinking the official Stanford Lemonade!
I wish I could say that I actually understand football now---I don't, though I am at least starting to get it (but still, what's with all the stopping and starting?)---but I can at least say that I had pretty much the best Saturday night ever, lack of Tim Riggins notwithstanding. Next up, team, we need to find me a sock hop. And possibly also a time machine.