BLS: ..The “Just Us Guys” Window

Dad Son
BobLee
November16/ 2015

I hosted The Carolina Lettermen’s Lounge @ Kenan Stadium for years, as a favor to an old friend – #23 From Garden City – Don McCauley.   I don’t any longer.  From my vantage point across from The South Gate I would watch fans arriving and departing…. all ages, all stereotypes.  One particular type of fan became a regular sight for me.

This is one of those commentaries that anyone who writes about sports and “the human condition” keeps in a pending file.   You know when it’s time to use it.

###

These are difficult times in America and likely to get much darker and scarier.  Whether you wring your hands in despair –“What to do?” – or go the “Pollyanna” route choosing to ignore the gathering storm; it is what it is.

The gathering storm is going to hit landfall whatever you or I do.  Saving Western Civilization is “above my pay-grade”.  I’m just a guy with a website.

###Father Son

Dad and Son attending the Big Game together.  It could also be the family including Mom and Sister just as well…. but Dad and Son was the combo I fixated on.

The age of the boy was critical – between 5 and 8-9.  As any parent knows, there is a period – a window – with your son/daughter when the child is old enough to have his/her own thoughts and opinions ….. and young enough to eagerly share those thoughts with Mom and Dad.  And the child actually WANTS to be with Mom and Dad.  Parent and child sharing adventures together.  All too soon, being with Mom / Dad will no longer “be cool”.

“Baby bird” flies from the nest even if that is simply riding his bike down the block or to the park or school where he will have adventures without Dad…. and even learning about them is “pulling teeth” around the dinner table.

“How was school today?” ….. “OK” …… “Just OK?” …… “it was fine, can I go over to Johnny’s now?” …… “Sure.  Mom will save your dessert ‘til late.  Have fun.” …. OUCH!  What parent hasn’t had that right of passage moment.   Sure, other windows open…. but that window closes.

So I would see these Dads and Sons coming to The Game.   Holding hands because of the hustle bustle of the crowd.  The son’s Holding handshand reaching out for Dad’s and Dad’s reaching down for his son’s.  That distance “just right”.

The son wearing a jersey of “his team”, maybe of a star player or maybe just “the team” in “team colors”. Maybe both Dad and Son in “team gear”.

Let me stop here for a second.  This was happening on Saturdays at Kenan Stadium ergo some of you will knee jerk into “All Carolina fans are a buncha _______” because you are a hard-wired ABC hammer and everything you see is a Carolina nail.   You miss the point if you do that …. 30-40-50 years invested in “hating Carolina” 0r Dook…. or “State College” is not going to change with anything said here.

So Dad and Son coming to The Game on a beautiful Fall Saturday.   If it was just the two of’em there was probably no tailgating but maybe Mom packed them a little picnic lunch with both of “her boys” favorite sandwiches and some sort of “surprise treat”.   Maybe they stopped at Hardees or Bojangles or that little hot dog stand they both like.  Dad and Son enjoying a day together….. “just us guys”.

As they move with the herd of brightly-colored wildebeasts all going “to the game” the boy is fascinated by all the people, all sizes and shapes, and all excited to get to the game.  His eyes sparkle…. his walk is a skip.

I recall my first trip to New York with my parents when I was 7-8.  We went to see Ringling Brothers Circus at Madison Square Garden.   As we were herded thru the jam-packed concourse a boy, smaller than I was, was on his dad’s shoulders surveying the busting crowd.  He blurted out “HAPPY NEW YEAR” ….. My Dad thought maybe he had attended a Times Square New Year’s and that is what people said in such a big crowd of people.   It made an impression that lasted 60 years.

Entering the South Gate, the crowd separates to their sections left or right.  Maybe Dad knows exactly where their seats are or maybe not…. he scans the directional signs with assurance.   Son doesn’t worry.  “My Dad is in charge.  He knows what to do…..”

Excitement is all over the boy’s face.   He and his Dad are “at the Big Game”….. OH BOY!

I lose them at this point.  They melt into the crowd.

The game happens….. Win or Lose.   This year Carolina won every home game, so what always “pissed me off” didn’t occur.   I wasn’t there.

Too often, whether with losses or even narrow W’s,  ESPECIALLY in “Hated Rival” games, I would see the same Dad and Son leaving the stadium either at 00:00 or in the waning minutes with outcome not in doubt. ….. but everything had changed.

Because “his team” had failed…. had LOST…. how dare they “LET HIM DOWN”?  The GDMF refs… the commissoner…. ESPN…. blah blah blah. …… Dad was in a funk.491932073ML00327_Brazil_v_G

Everything about Dad’s body language screamed MAD…. ANGRY….. DISAPPOINTED….. The Day Was Ruined.   He would face a load o’ crap from that jackass at the office or the obnoxious jerk down the block.   His team had lost AGAIN…. now he was “a Loser” too.

“….. How dare that overpaid idiot of a coach and his incompetent coordinators blow that game.   It was obvious to everyone they should have run / passed / punted on “that play”.    Same old same old….. Their school is “a sleeping giant” with everything needed to be a Juggernaut…. and we keep hiring these idiots as coaches…..”

Dad isn’t even holding Son’s hand now.   He is totally absorbed in his anger at the coach and the team “letting him down”.  His son needs to learn how important it is that our team WINS.   Here the son thought what was important was “being with my Dad.”

The son still excited albeit beginning to tire after a long day’s adventure.  For 2-3 hours all his developing sensory receptors had been assaulted by sights, sounds, smells of all kinds.   And, best of all, he had been “with Dad.  He couldn’t wait to get home and tell Mom and maybe his kid sister about he and Dad “going to The Big Game”….. but now Dad was different.

Son looks up wondering….. “Did I do something to make Dad so mad?”  Why is he saying all those “cuss words”?   ….. how come our great day together has ended like this?”

His face loses it’s sparkle.  His little shoulders slump.  The skip in his step turns to a scuffle.

….. and that special window when he and his dad could be together – “just us guys” – begins to close.

I want to grab that dumb ass  board monkey by the throat and throttle the life out of his miserable body.  But that might further upset the little boy. …. As I have often suggested that such cretins are permitted to breed and to vote is a regrettable weakness within our society.

It happens everywhere.   At Alabama when they lost to Ol’ Miss.  At LSU and at Baylor Saturday night ….. over at The Wally which had gotten used to winning…. now losing three in a row.   At The Carter where fans keeps waiting for “Our Year” but keep getting stuck in the muck in the middle. ….. Maybe Kenan was spared “this year”.

Look, I know there are aplenty of other sights and sounds at GameDay, but this one – obviously – kept getting to me.  I’ve followed sports all my life.  I “get it” but I’m tired of all the fan angst and drama.  Being a Flat-screen Fan spares me a lot of that crap.

It’s human nature. Like that gathering storm, not much I can do about either one.

#

I was a son…. but I never “had a son”; but Kid and I did have our share of Dad & Daughter adventures with their special memories.  Most of which we shared with Mom…. some “you had to be there” to appreciate.  That time in Washington with the hooker, the hobo and the rat… well, you “had to be there”.roomba

We just bought “a Roomba”.   One of those R2D2 robot vacuum cleaners.  Blondie is ecstatic.   Hard to believe we put men on the moon 50 years ago but just got around to these things.   She makes fun of my fetish for “headphones”….. and she is following “roomba” around the house talking to it.  Will she start teasing it with a laser pointer next? ….. If she’s happy, I’m happy.

###

BobLee

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Porgie
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Porgie

This Saturday is both Jr Wolfpack Club and Military Appreciation Day at Carter-Finley and I will be there with my 5 Grands all of course decked out in their finest Wolfpack attire as they really have not been given any other options, but they also have never asked about any other. Tailgating will be involved but no cookers in my bunch. At some point we will make the obligatory group picture with some landmark in the background, hit the FanZone for trinket giveaways, then into the stadium for the game. Pre-game, the 2 boys will search out BB players for… Read more »

classichost
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classichost

My boy turns 8 next month. He lives between Lexington and Asheboro with his mother and I was moved to Greenville back in 2012 so every time I get up to see him it is just us guys time. I started taking him to games in 2013 and we started with the ECU-ODU game to start that season down here, got him some Pirate gear, etc. He enjoyed himself immensely, A few weeks later I take him between the pines for ECU-UNC ass kicking #1, Prior to the game he understands that because dad is a Carolina fan, and the… Read more »

Jon Sasser
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Jon Sasser

BL, Sometimes those angry fans can provide the entertainment for your own kids. For years I had seats the row in front of the most obnoxious fan in Kenan Stadium. So bad that, if I offered the tickets to friends, they’d invariably ask: “Still sitting in front of that a-hole? Pass.” When Lil Dude was about seven, we were at a game where the Heels got penalized for having twelve men on the field. This would-be offensive coordinator yells: “Hey Bunting! You get three time-outs, how about using one?” Lil Dude looks and me, and I explain the comment. Then… Read more »

Old Kicker
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Old Kicker

My son is 37 now and we still see the Heels together as we have done for many years now. Hopefully he has learned to win with pride and humility, and lose with dignity and resolve. We miss you and LRP in the lounge.

Doug
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Doug

Oldest son was 5 around 1988 and I took him on a boy trip on the train from Wilson to DC to see all the sights. Smithsonian, National Zoo, White House etc. One morning we were wandering outside the Senate side of the Capitol building, walking across a parking lot and a 1970’s vintage Chevy Caprice Classic pulls in and parks in what obviously was a prime parking spot. Out pops the driver, Senator Howell Heflin (D) Alabama. Great big long tall and jovial man full of old school charm and personality. He starts up a conversation with my boy.… Read more »

TarheelMC
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TarheelMC

Well dang BobLee, I was hoping this was going to be another “Pier Fishing With Dad”. You had me a little choked up at the start. I share your disdain for the ignorant board monkey, living his life vicariously through a bunch of modern-day gladiators on some field or court. My “little guy” is 15 now, but thankfully, he will still hang out with dad on occasion. May God grant me the continued wisdom to cherish those moments. I know all too well that they will end far too soon. (The “little guy” has four older sisters.)

Terry Shinn
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Terry Shinn

Really enjoyed with your comments on this one. But I want to ad that it is never too late to have those “just us guys” moments. Went through a divorce when my son was in middle school and I really thought I had “lost him”. Long story there but then I started teaching Middle School and learned that every student in Middle School hates their parents! However the “just us guys” moments came after he graduated from high school. Main ones were when I took him to Vegas when he turned 21 (when we first got there he went through… Read more »