There are a lot of things the Mistress of the Manor and I find equally satisfying. We both love music, we both love literature, we both love movies, we both love playing “stranger at the door,” however, there is one thing we don’t agree on. Well, there are actually several things we don’t agree on, which are due, in part, to her being left-handed and doing things wrong … sorry, backwards … okay, different. I hate it when she sneaks up on me. Of course, there are things we disagree on that don’t revolve around her affliction, like the importance of cable, where to put dirty clothes and Rod Stewart. Okay, I know Rod has gotten a little, okay, very cheesy in his old age, but in his youth, he and Faces were mighty fine.
There is another disagreement, and this one is lengthy and on-going. Depending on whether the Mayans were eating mushrooms or not when they came up with their now infamous calendar, this difference of opinion will last until at least Dec. 21, 2012, and possibly to May of 2013. This disagreement is over sports, specifically college football and basketball. I love sports and the Mistress of the Manor thinks they are a complete waste of time, which, of course, is absurd.
Although my love of sports has been a part of me since I was a wee child, it intensified 10 fold when one Saturday afternoon I sat down to watch some TV after mowing the yard. Since cable or satellite dishes were a thing of the future in 1964, college football or basketball games were rarely seen on TV. However, this was not just any ordinary day, no siree. As I turned the channel knob - life was tough when I was a young spit - I came across a basketball game and immediately became intrigued. There was this white guy who could jump out of the gym. No, really, he was a white guy who could really jump. His name was Billy Cunningham, otherwise known as The Kangaroo Kid, and he played for the University of North Carolina. From that point on I was an avid Tar Heels follower. Three years later, after I had traveled to Blue Heaven to see the Tar Heels play in person, avid turned into fanatic. Although it was basketball that got me hooked on the Tar Heels, soon I was also dedicated to the football team.
Now, the Mistress of the Manor knew this in our courting days, so my addiction to anything dealing with Carolina was well known to her before we tied the knot 40 wonderful years ago. I think she hoped my interest in Carolina Blue would fade, but, bless her heart, it has only grown stronger with time.
Although she, at times, joins in my celebrations of the Tar Heels’ successes, even these times get her on edge, because she is afraid I’m going to have a heart attack because of my intensity when watching Carolina play. It should be pointed out, however, that I am more easy-going about losses than I used to be. I’ve mellowed with age, although a certain rat-faced coach can still send me into a tirade.
In the long, long ago before time, there was one time I punched a hole in the wall of our apartment after a Carolina loss in NCAA regional play. Thankfully, the Mistress of the Manor had already taken “Red Dog Engineer,” the name my small son preferred to be called at that time, out of the room. Of course, there was plenty of throwing things and cursing and other unseemly behavior.
Although I now remain relatively calm during a loss, one thing hasn’t changed – superstitions or quirks, if you will. Both the Mistress of the Manor and I used to smoke. Prior to the start of the game, I would place my drink and ash tray in easy reaching distance. Now, at no time during the game, even halftime, were these two things to be moved from their appointed positions. At times, the Mistress of the Manor would pick up the ash tray in order to place it in a convenient spot for each of us, which, of course, drew a stern reprimand. In addition, I always wear Carolina gear while watching a game. If the Tar Heels lose, that shirt is retired and will not make a game appearance until next season. Believe me, I am not short on Carolina attire.
One superstition that has been altered slightly, however, deals with food. In the past, while a game was in contention, I would not eat, not even during halftime, which frustrated the Mistress of the Manor, who had slaved in a hot kitchen for my benefit. I have since altered that superstition, so that I now eat during timeouts and halftime; so far, so good.
The part of the football and basketball seasons that frustrates the Mistress of the Manor the most is scheduling problems that arise. You see, I hate to miss a televised game, so plans involving other people and other events often have to be changed in order to accommodate my Carolina fix. It is at these times I think the Mistress of the Manor is going to punch a wall, or, possibly, me.