Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It Was My Fault

When you factor in all the pre-game activities, this past Saturday was perhaps the strangest game experience I have ever had. For something that started with such promise, then joined with events both humorous and practically hallowed (More on this in a bit), to have ended so disastrously, is virtually surreal. And in the end I felt practically responsible for the outcome of the contest.

I must offer this story, if for no other reason than to confess my sins against all things Gator, and ask for your absolution.

My initial mistake in this matter began sometime last summer. A female friend had married an Auburn fan, and at dinner one night I casually offered this fan 2 of my tickets to the September 29th game at Florida. While this Auburn fan is a gentleman of the first rate, in that careless moment I forgot one of my past cardinal sins against the Church of Albert – never, ever, ever, EVER invite opposing fans to the game on your tickets. When I have done this in the past it has always ended badly. (I once brought a gal friend – a Vol fan - to the Florida –Tennessee game in 2001. We lost, of course).

Were that initial error not enough, I then invited a co-worker who was also a Auburn fan to the game sometime later this past summer. Thus at this point for my 8 tickets we have –

1. Me
2. My wife
3. Auburn fan One
4. Auburn fan One’s wife
5. Auburn fan Two
6. Auburn fan Two’s wife

I should have realized this math was unsalvageable. But I didn’t. This time would be different.

By game day, the other two tickets were –

7. Florida fan
8. Wandering nomadic USC fan (More on this in a bit).

The math was still bad.

Oh, did I mention? –

Auburn fan One’s wife – FSU fan
Auburn fan Two’s wife – Alabama fan

The pallet of disaster was poised to be painted.

The day dawned overcast with foreboding, but I merely thought the clouds a welcome relief from the Gainesville heat. We started tailgating early. Real early, considering my tailgate was set up by 11:30 for an 8:00 game.



Auburn Fan One's Wife, Me, Auburn Fan One - Time 11:40
Note the empty lot, with the stadium in the left corner

Shortly after the above picture was taken, Florida’s now life-time tenured athletic director Jeremy Foley actually walked by on his way to the stadium. He stopped, looked at his watch, and asked, “Do you guys realize it is a night game?”

“Of course”, said I, “that’s why we got here last night!’

My line was of course untrue, but it elicited laughs.

The tailgate atmosphere began to gather steam as noon came and passed, and at 1:35, I received the following text –

“I’m coming by” - Jonathan Tu.

For those of you who have been following Jonathan’s adventures on 82 Sluggo Win, he needs no introduction, but for the rest of you slackers, Jonathan is traveling the nation virtually broke in his car (which doubles as a hotel room) going to top caliber college football games nationwide. I had agreed to contribute to the cause by giving Jonathan my spare ticket (number 8 if you are following). Jon arrived shortly thereafter –


Florida Fan, Jonathan Tu, Me, Florida Fan (Ticket 7)
.
As the day went on, friends gathered, beer was quaffed, and we dined on that particular Gainesville delicacy known as Burrito Brothers. By 3:00 or so, the scene was thus –

Can you smell the stench of approaching doom?

Auburn Fan One then asked me a favor, could another Auburn fan, his wife, and daughter join us? "Sure", I said - "no problem". After all, Auburn didn’t have a chance, and the more Auburn fans I fed and doled out beers to, the more my personal Gator karma grew.

Some Auburn fan, his wife, and the daughter showed up, all wearing identical jerseys. Turns out their kid plays for the Tigers (More on this in a bit).

Auburn Fan Two, Me, Florida Fan, Auburn Fan One
Note Auburn player's father on far left

Oh, did I mention that Auburn Fan Two accompanied me to the 1994 game at Florida in which Auburn beat the undefeated and then 1st ranked Gators by 3 points? Did I?

It was the last time Auburn won at Florida. And that I swore never to bring him back.

I’m such an idiot.

Anyway, back to the story.

Not realizing the tsunami of ill omen I had been creating, the party rolled on –

Goalposts, baby!

Eventually the sun set in Gainesville, and we prepared to go to do battle with the Tigers.


Fools laughing at the fates - Note Gainey's jersey on right
.
At this junctureI need to point out the mystical significance to the number “5” jersey worn by the Gator fan in the picture above. You see, 25 years ago to this very game, Jim Gainey of the Gators kicked a last second game winning field goal over Auburn. Gainey is a good friend of the individual pictured, and for what could only be considered positive kismet of the utmost achievable, the very jersey seen in this picture is the one Gainey was wearing to beat Auburn. Gainey had lent the jersey to my friend.

We couldn’t lose.

If only I had paid a bit more attention to the other jerseys at my tailgate – the ones on the Auburn fans (More on this in a bit).

No need to go over what happened. If you have read this far, you know the heartbreaker of universal proportions that followed.

As for the jersey worn by the family of that Auburn player? The family I gave beer, food and hospitality to for 3 or 4 hours?

Well, take a look at that early picture again, and note the name on the jersey at the far right.


Yes, that is HIS father.

It has to be my fault. There is no other reasonable explanation.





18 comments:

LSU1984 said...

You waited until 11:30AM to set up your tailgate for an 8:00PM game? 11:30 AM on Saturday?

This was the true violation of karma. By 11:30 on gameday, you should be making at least your second beer run.

Funny story though. Hope your luck changes in a couple of weeks.

Henry Gomez said...

Mergz,

Let's face it. The real reason we lost is because you retired your Orange and Blue Rugby jersey which brought us so much luck in the past despite the fact that the shade of blue on it was ironically and decidedly Auburn's version of blue and not Florida's.

Hopefully you still have that shirt and wear it this weekend.

Gator Boys said...

Wow

Anonymous said...

This was a great post. How often does one have the opportunity, or bad karma, to take care of a family that in one way or another will drive a piece of metal into your heart. Oh, I forgot that happened to me with my last girlfriend.

Ryan Ferguson said...

Thanks for nothing, Mergz! JEEZ!

A humble Auburn fan said...

Your story is hysterical. What are the odds?

Oh yeah...thanks!

Anonymous said...

My best friend from my USMC days is a rapid Florida Gator fan. He used to save up money all year long and attend the bigger UF games (ie. FSU, UM, LSU, went to the Nebraska MNC game, came to Auburn with me twice 2001, 2006..etc).

Poor dude has never seen his team win with his own eyes. He is something like 0-12 when attending Gator games in person.

He swears differently, but I am sure that he must have been in the Swamp Saturday night.

War Eagle! Good luck for the rest of the year.

Anonymous said...

The real crime would be if you and the other Gator fan you gave a ticket to bet Auburn to cover the spread.

Are you a true criminal?

Matt said...

Mergz, I now know where you tailgate. Expect a visit from a guy in a plaid orange shirt before the Vandy game. I want to shake the hand of one of the creators of this excellent blog. Then challenge him to a beer chugging contest.

Henry Gomez said...

Another note. In all of those pictures there is not one pair of JORTS to be found.

Mergz said...

Anon-

Would it be a "crime" were I to reveal your identity?

4EverLSU said...

Dayum, dude.....Blogosphere, Gator Nation, and Teh Foobaw Gawds haven't shut your site down after learning that? You got a mulligan big time. Learn from it, and take wisdom from your mistakes. Jeebus. I thought I effed up by partying too hard and sleeping through damn near the first half of the Tulane game. Seriously. Who in their right minds schedules an 11:00 game? I'm sorry...hangover? Do collegiate scholars not realize that just 'cause you're a private school, you're still in Louisiana? We drink. That's what we do. We're good at it. Well...that and pork the bell curve on illiteracy and cancer rates. We're pretty good at that, too. Regardless...my team needed me, and when I showed up...so did they. To have offered hospitality to the parents of the game-winning kicker's parents? That you're still breathing shows that not enough Florida fans read your fine blog. If it helps any...I was pulling for Florida (even as unnatural as that felt) the whole time.

Good luck in Saturday's game...this game scares me.

Gator Hater said...

I think you're all a bunch of fruits.

Anonymous said...

Gator Hater: Gay smack is for retards. Grow up, little boy.

*pab said...

LOVE your blog, but can't BELIEVE you thumbed your nose at the Fates and caused our dearly beloved defending national champions to falter in the Swamp. I'm 37 and have been going to Gator games since 11 months of age. I bleed orange and blue, and I'm TIRED of losing to Auburn by three points. Upset in Death Valley this Saturday...

LeftLeaningLady said...

Well, I don't feel quite so bad about the game now. Oh, I still feel horrible about the loss, but after reading this, I am pretty sure I am not 100% responsible for it.
My last post is about the same thing. It is titled My Responsibility. Yours is better than mine though.

JJ Gator said...

After the Auburn loss I'd like to see our kids head into the LSU game this weekend with the same attitude they showed playing against the Vols. This is a HUGE game, and even though a Gator win would be viewed as an upset by the oddsmakers and sports media it will be nothing short of a victory to Gator Nation.

And Mergz, PLEASE don't commit another sin against the Church of Albert and jinx our guys!

GO GATORS!!!!!

Anonymous said...

WAR EAGLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!