I had the privilege (which ultimately turned to misfortune) of going to the Saints game yesterday with my friend Sara. We were positively buzzing with excitement –– all decked out, “Who Dat” ready to pounce out of our mouths at a moment’s notice.
The game got off to a promising start. Our seats were great, the energy in the Dome was spectacular, and life couldn’t get better. Until things started to go downhill.
The first sign of disaster was the group of teenagers who stumbled into their seats (directly in front of us) at the end of the first quarter. They weren’t on time, they reeked of cigarette smoke, and two of them proceeded to make out immediately upon taking their seats. A bad sign. I was frustrated that these hipsters weren’t paying attention to the game (“They don’t even deserve to be here!” I muttered to myself bitterly) and also that their antics kept distracting me.
The seats to the right of us were still open, until halfway through the second quarter. The group took their seats, and I was unhappy to notice that the guy sitting next to me had apparently given up showering, possibly as a Saints tradition/superstition. Most likely not, but I had to think of some plausible excuse for why the rest of the game would be tainted with a cloud of odor, like Pigpen in Charlie Brown.
I don’t even need to get into what then went wrong in the game. Bad calls, missed kicks, etc. It was heartbreaking.
I may get too wrapped up in my teams –– as a kid I cried over LSU losses, and I’ve gotten into screaming matches with people who dare trash-talk the Tigers or Saints. What can I say; it’s in my blood. My dad was an All-SEC punter for LSU in the ‘80s and I was (almost) literally born at LSU. My parents, who were still in school, lived in LSU married housing when I was born, and I spent my first couple of years on LSU’s campus –– my parents would bike around the LSU lakes with me strapped to a bike seat; we’d watch LSU baseball games from the roof of our apartment, and as an infant I once joined my dad on the field for an LSU football event. In short, I am blaming my upbringing for my sometimes-over-the-top passion for football.
As Sara and I exited the Dome, I was actually shaking a bit. I was sad, disappointed, shocked –– the whole nine yards. And everyone else was, too. Thousands of people trudged along like sardines, trying to fit down that one staircase, trying to escape. There was the occasional “It’s OK,” “Just one loss” or “Just get ready for Carolina.” But nothing helped.
There was one point that got particularly uncomfortable. A congested crowd had formed at the foot of a single staircase that led to our destination. We were sweaty and pissed and grumbling, packed together unwillingly. Suddenly, a guy on the stairs turned to the crowd, shrugged his shoulders and shouted, “Hey, at least we don’t have to live in Atlanta!” For a minute everyone stared, and then they laughed. A few cheered. One lady chimed in: “Yeah, baby! We live in the Big Easy!” And suddenly we erupted in a little chant of “Who Dat!” It felt cheesy but perfect at the same time –– I couldn’t help but assign a little too much significance to that moment. Just another amazing affirmation of our fans, our team and our city. You can’t keep us down.