I have always found attending college and professional football games to be exhilarating. The roar of the crowd and sheer electricity of it all fills me beyond capacity with excitement. I often find myself smiling, cheering, and waiving my hands in the air frantically as the home team rushes towards the end zone. I like it. No, I love it. Whenever the opportunity presents itself to go, I take it. There is one game, however, that will forever hold itself in my memory.
It was early. I heard them coming long before I saw them. The noise on the stairs was deceptive considering the size of their feet. They are seven and nine, I thought, how could they make so much noise? I looked at my clock. Wow, not even 6 a.m. I knew they were excited. Today was the day they got to go to their first college football game. The Wyoming Cowboys were playing the Weber St. Wildcats in Laramie. I heard them talking in the living room. We have no TV in that room so I knew that they were on the computer. I decided I should get up. Walking on tired legs I walked in to the living room and said good morning to them.
"Hi dad!" they said. I could hear the excitement in their voices.
We ran through our morning routine, breakfast, brushing of the teeth, and finally getting dressed. During the morning process my wife woke up and soon fell in step with the rest of us. After about an hour preparing we finally loaded into my 2002 Dodge Caravan and headed to my brother's house. He and his wife were joining us and we were the chauffeurs.
The almost two hour drive to Laramie was pretty uneventful. I sat in the back working on the laptop trying to get some things accomplished. I think I succeeded more in frustrating myself than actually getting any work done so I put the computer away. I listened to my boys as they carried on their conversation. Their subject matter was pretty consistent to what I figured their interest were. Toys, playing, girls ... wait, girls? Aren't they too young for that? I shook my head. Everything was going great until Vincent, my oldest son, announced that he had to use the bathroom. Feeling rather ornery I said to him, "Well, don't think about a babbling brook."
"Dad," he said as he rolled his eyes at me.
"Don't think about waterfalls," my younger brother Dominic said.
Vincent gave him a look that seemed to say everything all at once.
"Uncle Dom," he said.
Then came the voice that blew us all away. I should caveat this. My youngest son Aydin has a speech problem. He has seen a speech therapist for more than three years now and we are seeing some great improvements. But what came out of his mouth that crisp Wyoming morning floored us all and left us in hysterics.
"Don't think of PEE!" he exclaimed with a smile that would brighten the darkest abyss.
Vincent began laughing. I began laughing. Dom began laughing. Soon everyone in the van was laughing. It was great. Here we had this little boy, with flaming red hair and porcelain like features, feeling like he had outsmarted us with his statement. He sat there beaming, the proudest boy in the world.
We stopped at a rest stop and Vincent quickly made his way to the bathroom. Aydin was right behind him, reminding him of what he shouldn't be thinking about the whole step of the way.
We made it to Laramie without anymore bathroom breaks. Aydin continued to try to get everyone to laugh but he had run the gambit and was now being silly. We made quick stops at the local big box store and lunch at a fast food place before finally heading to War Memorial Stadium and Jonas Field. Their excitement was building, I could see it. After securing our tickets at the main office, we made our way in. The boys had only seen high school football fields before so I knew this was going to be a treat.
"Wow!' said Vincent, his eyes large in wonderment.
"This is so cool!" said Aydin, his eyes equal to that of his brothers.
We made our way up to our seats and entered the field with a birds-eye view.
"Woah...," they both said. Their eyes sweeping back and forth trying to take everything in all at once.
We found our seats and sat down. They placed their newly acquired foam fingers on their hands and looked all around. I could see their little brains trying to grasp everything.
On the Jumbotron highlights of Wyoming football were being displayed. Eventually the scene shifted to a live feed outside of the home team's locker room.
"Here they come," I said as I grabbed both of the boys by the shoulder.
Their heads snapped into the direction of the screen.
"Where are they" inquired Aydin, ever the impatient one.
Before I could answer the crowd erupted into cheers and the team burst through the locker room doors making their way to the field. Everyone jumped to their feet and screamed. We stayed that way until after the first kick off.
As the game progressed I spent more time trying to watch my boys than actually watching the game. I could see the excitement in their eyes. I could almost feel it radiating off of their little bodies. I smiled. Hell, I almost cried. This is the way a game should be watched.
At half time we left the game. Aydin and Vincent were still surfing the wave of excitement and my wife and I figured it was the best time to leave. The ride home was interesting. The boys would wave the foam fingers in each others faces and occasionally say, "Go Pokes!" For me, it was a little surreal. See, my father never took us to a football game. Truthfully, he never took us to any sports. He doesn't particularly care for sports. So I wonder if he ever shared a moment so pure, as the one I had earlier, with any of us boys. I think he did. But dad is a stoic person and I doubt he would ever say one way or another. Aydin's voice broke my thoughts.
"Dad," he asked, "did you like the game?"
I smiled. I knew that my answer was more loaded than anything he was looking for. Because for me this game was not about Wyoming football. It was about being there with my wife and kids.
"Yes son," I said, "I liked the game."