Winning is good and so is meeting people
Monday, November 18, 2013 3:24 AM
Last Saturday we walked up to a mostly-empty table and asked the two people seated there, "May we join you?"
The man's response was "Only if you are from Elmore."
Spouse Roger and I both looked at him with very puzzled expressions. We sat down, neither of us knowing quite what to say. On my part, I guessed that we obviously should know them, but I couldn't figure out from where or who they were.
Finally, Roger just simply asked, "How did you know that we are from Elmore?"
When he told us his name, both of our reactions were the same: "Of course. Now it makes sense," or something like that.
It turned out that he had also grown up in Elmore and was a few short years behind us in school. His wife was a couple of years younger than he was and also from Elmore.
As soon as he said who he was, I wondered why I had not recognized him because now he looked so close to the same as he did back then.
We were in the big city to attend another University of Minnesota football game, this time between the Gophers and Penn State. We were prepared for cold weather; after all, this is Minnesota and we can handle an outdoor stadium in November! Well, we can if we have donned five layers of clothing.
I went into the cedar storage closet and got out our cross-country gear. Fortunately, the long johns still fit and the wool socks and warm mittens were still in working order also. Add heavy jeans, gloves to go under the mittens and cotton socks for under the wool ones, a sweatshirt, a light windbreaker with a hood, a fleece jacket and a big wind- and rain-proof jacket, topped off with a stocking cap over the hood, and a wool shawl and I was ready for whatever came our way, or so I hoped.
Roger, after getting fully decked out, said he was having a hard time moving because he had so many layers.
We had arrived early enough to spend some pre-game time at the impressive alumni center, half-expecting to run into someone we knew. If we didn't, that would be OK too because we also expected to meet some new and interesting people.
Just two weeks before, when we attended the Minnesota versus Nebraska game, we had also stopped in at the McNamara Alumni Center. It was the same scenario: big crowd and no empty tables. So I asked two people seated at a table if we might join them and we did. While we had not grown up in the same town as they had, it was still almost like "old home week."
They had both attended the same college as Roger had for his freshman year, the husband being a year ahead and the wife a year behind. So they talked about their experiences there and the people whom they all knew. There was a lot of "Well, then, did you know so-and so?" Often the answer was, "Yes," which would lead to more conversation and questions.
That was not the end of the common experiences. They both taught school and he was also a coach and administrator in the same school system as Roger's cousin, so of course that was another line of conversation to be followed. All in all, it was a fun and fruitful visit leading up to the game, because we exchanged emails and since then have already been in touch with them.
I will admit I was glad when the game was over, because the temperature dropped after the halftime. It had been windy all along, but with the lower temperature, the growing force of the bursts of wind were starting to make it uncomfortable. My feet did get cold and we ended up sitting on the shawl because the cold of those metal benches eventually creeps right through layers of clothing. But very few people left the stadium before the end, surely attesting to the hardiness of us Minnesotans.
It was wonderful that the Gophers won both of those games. And we had also won the first game of the season, which we also attended. We had gone to the first Gopher men's basketball game of the season the night before and the Gophers won. Every time we have been there this fall, our team has won.
I told Spouse Roger that it puts a big burden on us and I suggested to him that for that reason we really should be planning to go to the last game of the season. I think I would get a facemask, however, to add to the layers of cold-weather gear, and take seat cushions so as to avoid sitting on cold steel.
While winning is certainly nice, it isn't the only reason to go, because who knows who we will run into or meet at the alumni center next time.