As I bellied up to the bar at LoDo's Bar and Grill (1946 Market Street), I turned to my buddy and said, "I couldn't be happier right now."
There were a couple of reasons for this. First, I'd just attended my ten-year Air Force Academy reunion. It was good to see so many guys (and that includes women) I haven't seen in years and to find out where everyone is in their lives. I'm amazed at how far we've come (in some ways -- despite our semi-advanced age, we still know how to party). Many of those still in service have just been promoted, something we would have had a hard time visualizing years ago. There are engineers, fathers, mothers, pilots, corporate wizards and even a doctor. But I'm most proud of the fact that, to my knowledge, throughout the night there was not one incident of sexual harassment or assault. I know -- you're probably as surprised as I was. As a product of the "culture of rape and hostility," I can hardly believe I didn't club some woman over the head and drag her back to my cave. With the exception of having to watch grown men try to behave just like they did in college, even my date had fun and at no time felt threatened (I think). I will admit, though, that like some of the persons who are the focus of ongoing investigations at the academy, the next morning I did regret having drunk as much as I did.
But common wisdom holds that the best cure for a hangover is a little hair of the dog, and nothing in the medical books beats it. That's why I love this time of year.
1946 Market Street
As you've probably noticed from the plummeting temperatures, fall is approaching. It's sweatshirt weather. It's time to buy your pass and tune up your skis. Before you know it, the airwaves will be inundated with first Christmas and then Halloween advertisements. But above all, what fall means to every guy is football (outside of Boulder, at least, where every citizen is supposed to feel ashamed of having played so poorly last weekend).
I love football. It's the ultimate team sport. It taught me a lot about competition and discipline. It offers a socially acceptable reason to start drinking before noon on a Saturday or Sunday -- whether at a tailgate event or at your favorite bar or parked on your couch for what will turn into upwards of ten hours, when you move only to prevent bedsores. There's no other sports season that allows you to drink through an entire day with a clear conscience.
I am a huge fan of getting out in the cold, breaking out the old school colors and drinking as fast as I can so I can warm the hell up. But I am equally happy to stay at home and watch one of the numerous games on TV. I'll fill the cooler and pull it into the living room so that I don't have to walk all the way to the kitchen and possibly miss a crucial third-down conversion. Drinking in my apartment also has the advantage of not requiring me to change out of my bathrobe to become socially presentable.
But on this day, I took my hangover to LoDo's and was glad I did. Not just because I wanted to see Notre Dame get punished while watching at the Michigan fans' bar, either. As a native of Minnesota (where none of us will ever forgive Lou Holtz, Prince of Darkness, for leaving a rejuvenated Gopher program for the Irish) and a product of twelve years of Catholic education (if there's one thing that will beat your faith out of you, it's a dozen years at the mercy of nuns, priests and self-righteous laypersons), I probably hate Notre Dame more than any other human alive.
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But even more than the game, I was looking forward to LoDo's Bloody Mary bar. As if I needed an excuse to drink while many civilized people are still asleep, Bloody Marys are recognized as part of any nutritious breakfast. I think that's because of the tomato juice, but as a professional drinker, I have to say the most important ingredient is the Worcestershire sauce.
Now, while I disagree that fans can make that much of a difference in how a team performs on the field, I do know that after a few stiff drinks you can help your team even from a time zone or two away. With intense concentration and, more important, a sufficient decibel level, you can aid in play selection, argue with referees and make it impossible for the opponent to call an effective audible. Obviously, you can be this obnoxious only with a few Marys on board. The greatest impact you can make, though, is by calling every one of your friends who are rooting for the bad guys and insult them every time your team scores. You should do this until your friends stop returning your calls -- ever.
Still, there's only so much that you, your cell phone and lots of vodka can do. So let me remind you: It wasn't the fans who helped Notre Dame win over Washington State. It was God.