Thursday, September 6, 2007

Sept. 8 falls on a Saturday again

I'm nearly certain this is the biggest train wreck I've ever written. But you should read the hand-written version.

In keeping with tradition, some of the names have been changed to Georgia's school colors.
There's a football game this Sept. 8. And, again, it's South Carolina at home.

On a Saturday six years ago I woke up tranquil. It was to be new Coach Mark Richt's first real test that day. But unfortunately a Lou Holtz coached South Carolina team came into Sanford Stadium and pulled out a tight one, mostly on the strength of Georgia dropped passes.

The night before I had to kick some random Auburn fan out of Red and Black's apartment before I went to bed. They weren't there at the time, and I was pretty sure they weren't asleep at 4 in the morning.

My buddy Red, who grew up in Ohio, showed up at his apartment the next morning. I sent him ahead to the tailgating spot with the flag, thinking to myself he just wouldn't last long.

Later on Nick and Brett and I convinced Red to tackle Brett's brother — a guy we called The General because he liked to tell people what to do. For example: He must have called me a dozen times that morning to tell me there was "no parking" at the spot. When I showed up, a mere 8 hours before kickoff, there were only a few hundred spaces left.

Anyway, The General was sitting in a tailgating chair four hours before kickoff. Just sitting there, minding his own business, talking to some girl, drinking a beer there in his chair.

This was before The General quit drinking and became a missionary in Honduras.

And, whammy, Red nailed him, flipped him over his chair, spilled that beer all over The General's white shirt.

Funniest thing I've ever seen. Nick said later that it was the best tackle of the day. There was some yelling after that, and Red stumbled off angry into the heat of the summer afternoon - as if somehow he'd been wronged.

Red missed the game. I found him at his apartment that night. He came out of his bedroom and asked me if we won.

No, I said. No we didn't. And neither did Michigan, and Red had grown up a Michigan fan.

Said Red: "Washington beat Michigan, the Dawgs lost and I'm an asshole. It's been a bad day."

He had a way of summing things up.

Black broke into the conversation somewhere around there, as if he'd forgotten what happened, but now he remembered, with a wide-eyed smile on his face.

It was the end of the game and Black had been talking about killing Lou Holtz for most of the day. And Holtz was marching back and forth on that sideline like a 5' 5" general and it felt like he was the difference out there.

Black hated South Carolina. He got arrested there on an underage possession charge his first time in the state. Nothing like spending the night in jail your first night in a city.

By the way, at some point this Saturday The General got a call on his cell phone. Some buddy of his got arrested in Atlanta and he was going to have to go bail him out. He got another call a few minutes later.

"Whew," he said. "They got him out."

So Black started in not knowing anything but he was going to kill Lou Holtz with an empty half pint of Kentucky Gold whiskey. This was somewhere in the 4th quarter. He tore down toward the South Carolina bench until he was within whatever the hell it was he figured was within range.

"I reared back to throw, you know," he said later, acting it out a little and still smiling that crazy little grin.

"And just as I threw it, some ____ing Georgia fan threw his arm up and the bottle hit him."

"Boom! And it ____ing shattered and it broke two bones and he's ____ing swelling like out to here."

Black showed us where "here" was.

"I was like, '____ing ____ South Carolina, man, this guy's hand is busted.'"

Black could really keep things in perspective. He abandoned his mission to kill Lou Holtz and dragged this poor guy, who protested that his hand was just fine, to find a cop.

Somehow Black was not arrested. But I have thought about getting the police report.

"Suspect stated he was trying to "kill that ____er Lou Holtz when victim's hand was struck by an empty half-pint whiskey bottle."

Red and I went downtown that night. By then, he was well rested.

"You can't stop what can't be stopped," he used to say.

"Washington beat Michigan, the Dawgs lost and I'm an asshole," he'd said. "It's been a bad day."

But three days later was Sept. 11, 2001. And we found out just how bad a day could get.

I haven't taken losses the same ever since.

Sept. 8 falls on a Saturday again. For me that will always mean that Sept. 11 falls on a Tuesday.


I like whiskey! said...

Always bet on Black!

Brett said...

Classic! I almost forgot about that one. Shaggy's got a pretty good story from the following year. Go Dawgs! F the cocks

Nick said...

That is one of my favorite stories ever!

kjpeters said...

What a story! I think I've figured out who "red" and "black" are.....
I know who is behind "black's" hatred for Sweet Lou Holtz...ME!!!!