In two weeks from right now, I will have finished loading up my folks’ Expedition with all the gear. I will have taken a quick shower and will likely be yelling at my parents and Mrs. Crappy — if she’s able to make it — to hurry up and get in the car. I will be grumpy, impatient and more excited than a 6-year-old on Christmas morning.
I will have been up for a while. I probably drove to Columbus straight from work the night before, ate a couple White Castles upon my arrival — my mom will have complained about the smell of White Castles in her kitchen — and then gone to bed for what likely wasn’t a good night’s sleep. When I woke up, I headed to the stores — the Anderson’s, for beer; Buckeye Corner, for a couple things I’ll need for the season; and Giant Eagle, for food, other drinks, ice and any other goodies we need.
I’ll be feeling a little disconcerted, because of the whole shopping-on-the-same-day-as-the-game thing; that in and of itself is a significant change, and when you add the uncertainty about our parking situation — our regular lot doesn’t show up on the university’s game day parking maps any more — I’ll probably be pretty distracted. And I’ll probably forget some stuff.
I’ll come home and try to relax. I will fail.
I’ll eat a little lunch and then start to prepare, gathering my stuff, deciding what I’m going to wear in the lot and at the game. I’ll start loading the truck, ticking through the mental list I’ve compiled over the six or seven Saturday mornings each fall for the last decade.
I’ll forget to bring the damn seat cushions.
And then we’ll be in the car. The ride over to campus will be familiar — because we do it a lot — and off-kilter, because of the day and the time. We’ll turn on to Cannon Drive right at 3 p.m., the time when the lots open to pass-holders, and we’ll do our best to figure out what the parking situation is.
I’m still not relaxed yet.
Parking space. Chairs, tables, coolers, Brutus, food, grills – everything out of the truck. Mom will get the munchies squared away; Dad will open up each chair in a loose circle. I’ll still be distracted, checking over the stuff we have and making notes about what we don’t. If we — mostly meaning me — have made a serious omission, I’ll start calling our other regulars to see if they can bring whatever it is along.
We’ll crack open the first beers. The little boombox — which has been to more games in the last ten years than I have — will start playing OSUMB on a continuous loop. The rest of the crew will start to arrive. If she’s along, Mrs. Crappy will have told me to chill out several times already.
And I will finally listen. It’s not complete relaxation, not on a game day, but the anxiety over making sure we have everything we need for the tailgate party is replaced by something else — a nervous energy, an anticipation, a grin that spreads across my face and doesn’t disappear for the rest of the night.
In two weeks and five hours, we’ll all be inside Ohio Stadium. And we’ll be ready to start the season.