Saturday, April 15, 2006
My recollection of the last twelve hours is fuzzy at best. I arrived in town at 6pm on Friday. After stopping at the local All-in-Wonder Mart to re-stock my alcohol and Tobacco supplies, I headed off to the hotel to store some non-essential items and the dead body I picked up on Rt. 50 between Eleanor and Salem. I wanted to get over to the stadium quick-smart to ensure a good spot for the pre-game festivities. I also wanted to survey the area for escape routes in case the natives began sacrificing those not traveling in large packs.
It was a full 30 + hours until gametime of the annual Gold-Blue spring scrimadge, and the crowd was already whipped into a fevered frenzy. Bulged eyes, chewed lips, fists clinched white-knuckle tight, these people were ready to run head first into a brick wall if it would get the season started. Morgantown has never seen this type of utter hysteria. The showrooms of local furniture stores lay bare for fear of a riot.
I settled into my spot at tailgate city next to a band of gypsy's posed as tailgaters in search of companionship. They welcomed me in and quickly began probing me for information about my familiarity with the area, and if I would be meeting anyone later. Off to the side was this smallish, pale man in his 30's who didn't take his eyes off my black leather kit bag the entire time I was being interrogated by his estranged friends.
When he realized that I wasn't going to divulge any information without being exposed to anything short of Gestapo tactics, he silenced the crowd and ordered them to bring my kit bag to him. He opened it, and after shuffling through the contents of the bag for a few seconds, he gazed up at me with a sinister scowl and ordered his followers to hold me while he forced a blue pill about half the size of a dime down my throat. I only remember that last instance of sheer terror, and the image of me perched high above a crowd of senior citizens on the banks of the Monongahela River, screaming "Hey, watch my cannonball!".
I awoke to find myself stashed conspicuously between two rows of Port-a-Johns, some 20 feet from my tailgating spot. I arrived back at my spot to find that the gypsy's had packed up shop and split, leaving behind only my kit bag. I looked around to make sure no one was watching me, and opened my bag to find 3 small squares of perforated paper with miniature images of Yosemite Sam, and one large piece of paper folded several times. It read, "It was only a dream". After mourning the loss of 99% of my pre-game goodies for what seemed like hours, but was probably closer to 5 seconds, I decided that something was better than nothing, and decided to find some food.
It was now 9am, and the last of the morning dew was quickly evaporating from the poorly maintained grassy hillside I was getting ready to climb. I followed my nose to the one place I knew I could count on for a decent pre-game meal without having to engage in any of the usual small talk experienced at most tailgates. I was heading to the Law School tailgate. You just have to admire a group of people that are so rich, or will be so rich in the near future, that no expense is spared during special occations. There was a spread like that of some of the more well to do country club brunch buffets I have experienced. I was able to load two plates of goodies and several cans of beer stashed in every pocket available without being approached by anyone. As I began to walk away, I was confronted by what I can only imagine was a first year law student who wasn't having too much luck striking up a conversation with anyone. He said hello, and asked me if I was still in law school, or if I was an alumnus. Not knowing what to say, I yelled out something unflattering about his sweater vest, and mumbled something unintelligible about habeas corpus. He backed away from me with a shocked look on his face, and I quickly did a 180 and made a b-line for my tailgate spot.
After inhaling both plates and more than a few beers, I decided it was time to start chewing on one of the afore mentioned pieces of paper and make my way to my seat before the craziness kicked in. I passed down the middle of the the main tailgating area with those on the left screaming "Let's Go!", followed on the right by "Mountaineers!". And again "Let's Go!" followed by "Drink Some Beers!". For the next grueling 500 yards, over and over, I wondered if I would make it into my seat before it started to kick in. I could just see myself gibbering away at one of the ushers about how my parents really never loved me, and how my shoes never seemed to fit. All the while, a steady stream of saliva running down the side of my chin.
Shit, pull yourself together Johnny! You don't have a choice now, the damage is done! All you have to do is play it cool. Avoid any reptiles that get in your way, locate the quickest way to the men's room from your seat, and wait for that kid to come along with that ever loving tray of goodness that is over priced, watered down, warm, stale beer.
I found my seat, or one of 60,000 that looked just like it, and made nice with the people seated around me. I was having a pleasant conversation with the young man seated beside me when I noticed a strange look in his eye, and I noticed I was chewing uncontrollably on the inside of my cheek. Realizing that it had started, and that I only had a few seconds until the hallucinations started. I reached out and shook his hand and told him to enjoy himself. As I turned back to the field, the sky turned a nefarious shade of red, and a swarm of large furry bats descended on the upper deck of Mountaineer field. They picked off several of the unfortunate bastards standing near the top rows. I looked over at the young man seated next to me and told him not to worry, that we were safe here. He looked back at me in bewilderment and scooted as far away from me as he could.
Just then, a loud boom went off over my left shoulder, like a shot from a cannon. Hundreds, if not thousands of screams emanated from everywhere at once. Men dressed in blue uniforms, outlined in gold, stormed the field, jumping and punching each other. I turned to my left to see what the cause of that loud boom was, and noticed an enormous red-headed man, dressed in deer skins, standing over me with his hands raised to the sky. Alarmed, I got up and ran as fast as I could in the opposite direction, stepping on the tails and feet of several large reptiles as I made my way. Just ahead, I noticed a large opening. I ran to it, and as I turned, it was if I was running into a small cave that seemed to get narrower by the second. Further and further I ran, until I was in complete darkness.
I awoke several hours later back in my tailgating spot with a thunder stick lodged in my left pant leg, and a transparent green visor pulled low over my eyes. I looked around to make sure no one was watching me, got in my car and made it to the nearest pay phone. I called my attorney to warn him to expect the worst, and informed him that I was headed out of town. He agreed with my judgment in this matter, and again reminded me that he thought I would make a hell of a lawyer.
As I reached the interstate, I pulled over to look back one last time at this magnificent town, and promised myself that I would be back soon, with backup. Then sped away joining the endless stream of cars, trucks, and vans headed south, back to civilization.
Posted by John Radcliff at 4:15 PM