Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Wow. That would be the only word capable of describing how amazing this past weekend was. Jeff, Clay and I flew up to Madison, watched the Badgers stomp Michigan, it was Veteran's Day, it was the Marine Corps birthday (we're all closet motivators), and it felt like every one of my old teammates were back in town.
The weekend started off for us with a drive to Vegas. We had planned on getting a cheap hotel (they have to be a dime a dozen off the strip, right?). Well, apparently not cheap enough for Marines. Sixty bucks? No thanks. So we decided, "Hey, let's just go to the airport and sleep there!" So after a briefly scary moment when we were trying to check in and our reservations weren't there (apparently they won't let you check in the day prior to your flight???), we staked out a spot underneath some pay phones that was near a restroom. It had a beautiful view of the strip, and seemed tucked away enough that we wouldn't be bothered. Well, we got bothered. At one point at 4 am, some creepy dude that had crawled next to Clay and fell asleep within arm's reach of him, followed me into the restroom and started asking me for money.
Iraq Mode Switch: On.
That situation ended up not escalating, but needless to say, our night was miserable.
Fastforward to Madison. We arrive Friday night, and surprise, we drive straight to Wando's. Walk inside, take a deep breath, and ordered our first Spotted Cow. Friday night we also had a birthday party for an old friend of mine, Owen Daniels, whom I had not seen since I graduated almost two and a half years ago. A bunch of our old teammates were back in town and all showed up. It was practically a Badger Football team '04 reunion.
Saturday, we woke up, walked to our car in the parking garage (yes that means I didn't sleep in it this time!) and got all dressed up in our Marine uniforms. It was Veteran's Day, it was the Marine Birthday, and, well, we were on a budget. We grabbed a razor, walked back into Wando's, shaved, got looked at strangely, and we were off to the stadium.
The game was unreal. We were walking around on the field pregame, and were about to return to our seats when one of the band directors grabbed us with a motivated "Semper Fi Devil Dogs!" and told us that he wouldn't allow us to sit in regular seats and that instead we were going to sit with the band in their section. He said, "you have free reign to do and go as you please, if anyone gives you any grief, tell 'em Gunny said so!" THANK YOU.
We spent the first half partying with the band, which I might add I worship. It might sound weird to hear an old football player talk about the band that way, but ask anyone and they'll tell you that we have the best band ANYWHERE. No one has more fun. One of the strangest things happened while I was going to the restroom. I was walking up the stadium steps and I heard someone shout my name. I turned and looked and some guy was leaning over a railing, waving at me. "I read your blog all the time!" he shouted. Well random dude up in the stands, I didn't have the chance to tell you then, but thanks.
The second half we walked back down onto the field and hung out by the bench, all the same ex-players from Wando's were down there as well. It was a great time, made even better by the woodshedding that we put Michigan through.
Post game was the best. On our way to our friend Jerry's tailgate we got sucked into the Stadium Bar, which throws a big bash in it's parking lot. Once in there, there was no escaping. Jeff, Clay and I have never been more inappropriately touched in our entire lives. I think every middle-aged woman at one point in time groped one of us, most of them while holding their husband's hand. Makes for an awkward moment when a gentleman says, "hey Marine, happy Veteran's Day, let me buy you a beer." And then when he turns back around to hand it to you, his wife is feeling your chest. AWKWARD. It was all in good fun though. We ran into plenty of retired Marines, the majority of whom were higher ranking than us, luckily we didn't get locked on by any of them.
Any guesses on where we ended up after the Stadium? If you guessed Wando's you guessed right. We were there, literally, from 5 pm until 5 am, way after bar close. I won't even go into how nuts that place got, it would just get repetitive- beer, shot, beer, beer, shot, beer....
So there it was. One of the best weekends I can remember. To everyone that came up and gave us a sincere "Thank you for what you do" I just want to say, "No, thank you." Why? Because it's the kindness of the everyday person that makes fighting for strangers worth all the risk and sacrifice. I rag on the Marine Corps all the time on this blog, but ultimately I love what I do, and I would join all over again, and I am more than willing to go back to Iraq, or Afghanistan or any corner of the world to finish the job, because I love my family, my friends, the Badgers, Wando's, State Street, Ian's pizza late night and Spotted Cow.
Happy Belated Veteran's Day
at 3:04 PM