I know my pitiful life is not all that interesting but there were 48 hours this last week that were pretty jam packed. At least for a lazy slacker like me, anyway. Here are the highlights - or lowlights. You be the judge . . .
Wednesday, December 2nd
Early afternoon: People dropping by the office keep asking, "What the heck is in that ginormous box?" My coworkers politely explain that “Peter lost a bet” and has to pay it back by dressing up as Captain Shield (the U.S. Bank mascot) for an event that night. I remain quietly in my office.
Still early afternoon: a couple of us walk over to the Eugene Hilton to drop off some stuff for tonight’s University of Oregon Alumni Association Tailgate Auction. Even though the mascot suit comes with its own convenient carry bag, it is still a pain in the (insert your own favorite name for the body part normally referred to in this context here) to lug around! I manage to knock down a fellow employee just once on the way over. On the other hand, the Hilton will have to replace a few dozen water glasses that met an untimely demise.
4:30 PM: Back at the Hilton to get dressed for the big event. I believe my rep as a playa was enhanced by wearing this outfit. It certainly couldn’t have been hurt.
5:00 PM: People begin to arrive. I wander around in the lobby and wave my stubby little arms. People mostly just stare but the occasional friendly person will say hello or give me a high five.
5:30 PM: I am already bored. And hot! This is not nearly as much fun as I had hoped. Plus the fan inside the suit (yes there is a fan!) lacks a battery pack. I ask for water and magically it appears.
6:00 PM: Boredom morphs into delirium. Or heat stroke. Or both. With some help, I navigate the hallway to step outside into the cool night air for a bit of a break. A fellow employee claims steam is coming off of me. She hoses me down and we head back inside.
6:15 PM: I am certain that three hours have gone by. My co-worker tells me it’s only been just over an hour.
6:20 PM: I try to take my mind off of things by playing solitaire on my iPhone. I discover that I need my hands for that and they are currently stuck in some kind huge four fingered gloves which makes use of the touch screen impossible.
6:30 PM: My boss comes by and says, “Can I interest you in a deal?” My first thought is that it was one of her “deals” that resulted in me being in this costume but then I think, “what could she do that would be worse than this?” I say, “Sure.” She then tells me that a friend of a senior executive has an extra ticket to the Civil War and she wonders if I could use it. Now I am concerned that maybe she is delirious. (Most of my bosses over the years have gone out of their way to keep me from having contact with anyone important.) I, of course, am happy to snag the ticket and resolve to not embarrass my boss, her boss, her bosses boss or U.S. Bancorp with any inappropriate behavior at the game. (Did I mention that I might have been delirious?)
6:45 PM: I accidentally grope a fellow U.S. Bank employee. Honest - it was an accident! You try wearing that costume and not having at least one or two social faux pas! Out of consideration to the employee, I won’t mention her name here (although my bet is that HR certainly knows her name and is fully aware of this incident. (Anyone know what the statute of limitations is on accidental cartoon character groping?)
7:00 PM: I follow my boss to the front of the room where she makes some great remarks about U.S. Bank, including how much money we have donated to the Alumni Association from the UO Alumni Check Card program. I wave a little, give a “thumbs up” sign or two and even give her a “side hug” without accidentally groping her.
7:15 PM: The costume is off and I get to eat some rubber game hen, surprisingly good asparagus and some kind of cinnamon honey potatoes. (Potatoes should not be sweet. Even sweet potatoes should not be sweet.) I also have the first of a series of gin and tonics.
8:00 PM: Time to head home. I walk to my car with the aforementioned grope victim. She is surprisingly gracious. To the best of my knowledge, no one is injured as I lug back the costume in its ultra-awkward carrying case.
8:30 PM: Rudy greets me at the door, jumping up and down with excitement – as always - and sniffing me because apparently I smell an awful lot like everyone else who has ever worn the Captain Shield outfit.
Thursday, December 3rd
9:30 AM: I arrive at work – early, as usual. Here’s a tip: When lugging an enormous, unwieldy, mascot costume in a big blue canvas bag, expect some stares. Also, do not carry coffee in your “free” hand – because you don’t have one.
10:00 AM: I drink the remaining half of my coffee and begin responding to the emails, phone calls and instant messages about the civil war. For some reason, I have become a magnet for smack talk from Duck fans. And let me just point out that some people, who shall remain nameless.
Noon: The senior executive's good friend drops by with his extra ticket. Turns out the ticket is not all that great. Section 11 on the 50 yard line, Row 40. No beer. Even still I offer to wash his car once a month for the next 30 years.
3:30 PM: I will tell this next part as delicately as I can. I, uh, decide to use the restroom before heading out to the game. I am, uh, in a stall and minding my own business. Someone else is in the stall next to me. As every guy knows, the first rule of Bathroom Club is that you don’t talk – unless you are washing your hands or entering / exiting the rest room. So, imagine my surprise (shock, actually) when the individual in the next stall flashes his deluxe, platinum plated, four wheel drive, nuclear powered Civil War tickets at me from underneath the stall divider! He says something like, “Don’t you wish you had these?” I play along saying that my little 50 yard line ticket does not hold a candle to the luxurious accommodations that await him at the game. And if that weren’t enough (and don’t you think it should be?) he then flashes his VIP parking pass! Sometimes it seems there is no end to the humiliation I must suffer.
4:00 PM: I leave to catch the shuttle bus to Autzen. I stop in the Eugene Main branch to get some one dollar bills for the bus fare. I am dressed in OSU colors. The staff refuses to make change for me.
4:30 PM: I get on the shuttle and make the usual five minute trip to Autzen in just under 45 minutes.
5:30 PM: I make it into the stadium. There is surprisingly, a fair amount of orange and black in the sea of green and yellow.
5:45 PM: I find my seat. Actually the word seat is a bit of a stretch in that the civil engineers who designed the seating for Autzen Stadium believe the average width of the human body is 5.3 inches. Standing seems like the best option.
5:50 PM: “I Love My Ducks” comes up on the Duck Vision screen. Conveniently it cuts to a live shot of the Ducks running out onto the field just before it gets to the scene featuring the Duck mascot. A lawsuit with Disney is averted!
6:00 PM: Kickoff! It’s a balmy 35 degrees! I am warm and toasty due to the 15 layers of clothing I have on PLUS the hand and toe warmers I have left over from the Inauguration last January.
First Half Highlights: I spend much of the first half searching for future-ex-wife, Erin Andrews who is at the game as a sideline reporter for ESPN. Apparently her security contingent became aware of my presence because I was never able to locate her. Other than that, I don’t embarrass myself too badly in front of senior executive’s friend and his family. Well, except for the part where I smacked him on the (insert your own favorite name for the body part normally referred to in this context here) and yelled, “Go Beavs!” It’s at that point I notice that I am the only one wearing orange within a half mile radius. I decide to keep it low key, out of concern for my well being. More importantly – both teams play GREAT. Holy cow.
Halftime: Against my better judgment, I watch both marching bands, out of respect for my band geek friends. Who knew the soundtrack to Back to the Future could be so painfully dull? AND, isn’t it cheating if your marching band has a full ten piece rhythm section playing on the sideline? After they are done I sneak out to get popcorn.
Early 3rd Quarter: I get my popcorn and head down the aisle to row 40. There are two girls sitting at the end of the row that I don’t recognize from earlier. I excuse myself as I move past them to the middle of the section where my seat is. I then step on the toes of a couple who are, frankly, a big too large to be safely allowed into the stadium. From there I knock over a water bottle and smudge a blanket before getting to my spot. Once there I realize I don’t recognize anyone around me and wonder if some kind of rift in the space / time continuum has transferred me to a parallel universe. Or maybe it’s just that I AM IN THE WRONG SECTION! I then apologized individually to everyone in row 40 of section 10, telling them that I am just a poor Beaver fan who has lost his way. Thankfully they decide not to beat me to a bloody pulp.
Second Half Highlights: The sado-masochistic announcer tells the crowd that the temperature is now 32 degrees with a wind chill making it feel like it’s 27 degrees. I hear loud laughter from Carl Burgdorfer’s suite. If possible, the second half is even better than the first. LeGarrette Blount comes in and Duck fans cry tears of joy. Then he scores and Beaver fans cry tears of anguish. The game is a highlight reel of amazing plays and great coaching (and one too many field goals that should have been a touchdown).
Post Game: A few people casually walk down onto the field to join in the post game celebration. And by “a few people” I mean everyone but me. The pain of losing eases a bit when I realize that since the Beavs didn’t win, my kids will have Christmas after all since I will not be spending a small fortune to go to the Rose Bowl.
The Bus: Maybe it’s just me, but being an infrequent attendee of big time football games, it was tough to figure out where the shuttle busses were located. Some signs would have been helpful. There were PLENTY of busses but all the ones I came across were for, oh say, the OSU Marching Band, shuttles to hotels, or guests of the Carl Burgdorfer VIP Limousine Service. Finally I discover that the shuttle busses I am looking for are conveniently located in nearby Veneta. Once on the bus (about an hour after the game is over) the driver mentions he is not familiar with Eugene and doesn’t really know where the downtown station is located. I realize I may never seem my family again.
10:00 PM: Apparently Autzen Stadium is under some kind of cone of silence because I am unable to receive text messages or Twitter updates during the game. Once I get about a mile away from the stadium my iPhone goes nuts with messages from, well, a lot of you guys who could not wait to talk smack.
10:30 PM: I arrive home. Rudy greets me at the door, jumping up and down with excitement – as always - and sniffing me because apparently I smell an awful lot like roasted beaver.
Friday, December 4th
9:30 AM: I arrive at work – early, as usual. Here’s a tip: When you have a lot of work to do but really want to spend the entire day talking about one of the coolest games in the history of college football, something will have to give. In my case it was, obviously, work . . .
One more thing (and I don’t expect to ever say this again in my lifetime) . . .