I wore a white long-sleeved shirt under my Yale short-sleeved t-shirt, jeans, socks and black boots to my first college football game. It was about 80 degrees when we got to the tailgate party; I quickly climbed into Tina’s SUV to undress from the waist up, struggled out of the long sleeve shirt, pulled the tee back over my head. I wished I had brought flip-flops but was going to have to suffer in my heavy denim and leather boots.
Bill’s office planned the tailgate party. A sign up sheet for food donations circulated the office and reached me via email. The sign they made was propped on top of the SUV making it easy for us to find them. We gathered around a table topped with bagels, fruit and vegetable platters, cookies, cupcakes, apple cider, juice, wine and champagne with Bill’s co-workers, their families and friends. I’ve met most of them before but they’re more familiar with me due to office chit-chat and photos of our vacations Bill shares with them. They all told me how great our Yellowstone trip looked, some said they’d like to vacation there too. We took turns throwing a frisbee but mostly stood around eating and mingling.
We were there to see Yale vs Army, they had not played each other since 1996. The Yale Bowl, where home games are played, turned 100 this year. I’m assuming the festivities that took place before the start were part of the birthday celebration. A sea of white uniformed West Point Cadets filed into the bowl and onto the field, both bands were in attendance and played together and, best of all, three parachutists jumped from a helicopter and landed in the middle of the field to a roaring crowd yelling USA, USA, USA.
Once the game started the fans got down to business making it obvious who was rooting for the Bulldogs and who rooted for the Black Knights. We were all proud of our military but there was a football game to win. The game itself was a nail biter with Yale winning in overtime. Whenever Yale scored the crowd went wild; the cheerleaders would form themselves into three towers and hoist one of the woman up on top of each in a prone position. Whenever Army scored a touchdown their fans went wild too; their cheerleaders would run the width of the field waving flags, doing cartwheels and back flips, then gather on the sideline to do push ups. I found both entertaining.
After roasting in the sun all afternoon Bill and I left right before the 4th quarter with the score tied; we needed to get home and get ready for a dinner date with friends. We made one last stop at the tailgate party where a few people had been sitting since the half; they had gone back to get something to eat and, realizing it was cool and shady, never went back to the game. We updated them, grabbed a bottle of water and cupcake and found our car. On the way out of the lot we stopped to ask three cadets what the score was; Army had scored putting them in the lead. By the time we got home Bill heard on the radio that Yale won in OT, first time since 1955. My first game was a great one under blue skies, it’ll be tough topping it. But what a feeling being part of the hoopla.
The night ended after a nice dinner of fish tacos with our friends, Lenore and Doug, and ice cream cones at Carvel. Yes, there was a lot of dessert consumed but it was a special day!