The Iliad: From the Atlantic Ocean to the Sea of Red

Posted: October 14, 2011 in Pop Culture, Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Let me start this post off by apologizing.  I haven’t written anything since publishing a drinking game nearly a month ago.  In short, what hasn’t happened since then?  Nebraska got decimated on the road in a complete and utter travashamockery (*Author’s note: travesty+sham+mockery.  And, yes, I did steal that from a Bud Light commercial circa 1998), I got married and the Huskers clung to life against Ohio State.

I’m going to try to get back on track to writing regularly and we’ll start with a (very) late recap of the Huskers’ game against Ohio State.


4:30 A.M.          Cocoa Beach, FL        

My wife of a little over a week and I stumble out of bed.  It’s 3:30 back in Nebraska where we’re from.  My eyes feel like I used ‘Visine: Sand and Sulphuric Acid’ to clean them out and the only light to greet them is from the TV which I left on.  The Weather Channel is spilling over onto the Hilton’s dark rug like an electric oil spill.  A tropical storm front is spinning towards Florida’s East coast, a buzzsaw of wind and rain.

I lurch to the bathroom and splash water on my face.  My body, long ago and through an absurd force of habit that would make Pavlov and his dogs jealous, decided that anytime I’m awake before ten I should feel hungover. 

I had one beer the night before.  My body tells me I was doing keg stands and pounding down cocaine like a man committing suicide-by-Vegas.  We stumble our the door.  The only thing that makes it worth the horrendous hours?  We’re still technically on our honeymoon.  And Memorial Stadium awaits.

7:15 A.M.          Melbourne (But not the cool, Australian one), FL

Our plane takes off.  We’ve inexplicably been placed in seats that are one in front of the other.  My wife is seated a seat up.  I’m one back.  We hold hands as the plane takes off and it quickly becomes apparent we’re lifting off into the teeth of the storm.  The plane jerks fitfully and I quickly become convinced that our pilot only recently took off his training wheels. 

When you’re 30,000 feet up the whispering doubt in your wing-side ear turns to a chorus.  When you’re 30,000 feet up, the seatbelt you have strapped securely across your mid-section by pulling on the loop in unison with a smiling flight attendant is less of a security blanket than the actual blanket they give you.  Which is just itchy.

Finally the flight ends.  We didn’t crash.  My wife is happy to be alive.  I’m mad the flight was too bumpy to score a complimentary Diet Coke and peanuts.  We land in Atlanta’s airport and search for food.

9:30 A.M.          Atlanta, GA

I’m starting to come down from the adrenaline rush of my near death experience.  We bump into a man who is wearing a suit, he claims that he’s heading into Lincoln and gives me a free breakfast sandwich.  Welcome back to the Good Life.  Almost. 

While seated and unwillingly mingling with people in Husker red and Buckeye Crimson we overhear a “local” who has been “born and raised” in Omaha loudly pontificating to a Buckeye couple.  This blowhard is blowing.  Hard.  Gale force, Perfect Storm hard.  He claims it takes roughly 4-5 hours for anyone trying to get to Lincoln from Omaha on a gameday and informs the couple, who are arriving with us around 12:30 that they’ll “just have enough time to make it to the game.”

We use a hand squeeze technique for idiots.  One squeeze if he says something mildly idiotic.  Two squeezes if he’s really in full-bore moron mode.  We white-knuckled through his entire conversation.

We finagle seats together for this flight and sail out on the north-blowing wings of Dixie.  The dirty south doesn’t appear so dirty from 10,000 feet and rising.

12:30 P.M.          Omaha, NE

Our flight heads down to earth.  The atmosphere has one last sick joke at our expense and for a minute, I feel like we’re on the Apollo 13 only there’s no Tom Hanks and, perhaps more importantly, there sure as hell isn’t any Kevin Bacon.  We touch down.  I don’t have to strap the seat cushion to my chest and use as a flotation device and I comfort myself by looking at 3 foot tall bronze sculptures of  a Sasquatch in “Skymall.”  Now that’s what I call a security blanket.

1:30 P.M.          Omaha, NE

We make it back to our apartment.  Our jet-lag gets there at 1:31 P.M.  My body is still staging an “Occupy Wallstreet” style revolt.  It has made poorly constructed signs and is chanting, “You’re hungover. . .you’re hungover. . .”  I buy a liter of Diet Mountain Dew and we get ready to head down to a friend’s tailgate party.  Memorial Stadium calls in the distance; Mecca.

Our bodies pumping adrenaline and caffeine mixed with yellow dye #7 we fling ourselves into a car and join the 75 mile per hour traffic jam.  We’re bumper to bumper and a tapped break away from an impromptu Demolition Derby.  She sings in the seat next to me.  A song about Nebraska.  And love.  We head west with the sun.

3:00 P.M.          Lincoln, NE

We arrive at the tailgate location.  The place is packed.  We hold hands and prepare to cross through a raging torrent of Husker.  A swift current of beer, grilled food and loud music is at our ankles.  Then our knees.  We’re chest high and feel the undertow pulling us, magnetically, towards the gates of the stadium.  Finally we dock at my friends’ tailgate party.

We show off wedding rings and Bahamian tans and pitch in on a frosted keg of goodness that resides in the back of the truck. 

(*Author’s note: I have yet to find a masculine way of showing off my ring.  I’m extremely proud of it, but have struggled as yet to discover a good way to flaunt it.  Open fist?  Closed fist?  A part of me wants to karate chop it into people’s eyelines.  But more than just a part of me wants to stay married, too.  Recently I have settled on the always masculine pre-fistfight fist and decide to steer as far away from the “Jazz hands in mid chorus-line” look that I abhor.)

We drink down beers in the shadows of the stadium.  The rainclouds have found us again.  Tracking us, as a predator, ever-circling, the rain has swooped low over our plains city and begins to threaten with flecks of cool rain; spitting down.  I have our ponchos in my pocket and it appears that we may have to use them.  It matters not.  We finish our last drops and head for the stadium.  Kickoff beckons.

7:00 P.M.          Memorial Stadium: Lincoln, NE

Wearing slick, clear ponchos to ward off the rain we cheer wildly; recklessly.  The flyover rattles in our chests, with planes swooping so low we feel like they’re going to pull an emergency landing at the 50-yard line.



  1. Sue Tolles says:

    I’m looking forward to reading more postings. Do a lot of things with your left hand people will notice.

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