Today has been circled on my calendar since the summer.
As you probably know, Georgia plays Alabama in football, something that doesn’t happen every year and is nearly always interesting. Like in 2008 when Mark Richt made a critical error in judgment by deciding the Dawgs would wear black jerseys.
But this isn’t about sports or winning and losing. This is about the crushing disappointment that comes when the people you love just don’t care about the things you care about.
On a Saturday when there’s an unusually big football game, I care about dragging my TV and some sofas out to the screen porch, grilling racks of ribs and a bunch of wings, and hanging out with my family and our friends.
Today should be such a day.
Except that in the past week or so my middle son announced he had a debate tournament all day in north Georgia, and my wife announced she was driving him up there.
My oldest son is taking the SAT in the morning and then, as he announced late this week, he and a friend plan to spend the rest of the day rebuilding the engine of a 1991 Jeep Cherokee.
That leaves my youngest son, who’s 13 and plans to spend the entire day playing video games involving either building civilizations or destroying them, or maybe both. I’m thinking about paying him to watch the game with me.
How sad is that?
My only consolation was that my daughter, Cary, would be in Athens watching the game.
Cary’s not a football fan, exactly. She enjoys things like reviewing albums for the campus radio station. And by albums I mean “Hillbilly Zen-Punk Blues” by Reverend Freakchild.
She gave it five stars.
But since enrolling at UGA last fall she hasn’t missed a game in Sanford Stadium.
She says one of the greatest moments of her young life was when Todd Gurley, whom she had seen once in the dining hall carrying a really cool backpack with actual books in it, returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Auburn.
The play was nullified by a penalty, but she didn’t care. What mattered was that right before the ref threw the yellow flag, she and 92,745 other people were jumping up and down and going absolutely nuts.
It was electric. It was loud as thunder. It was like the greatest rock concert ever.
That’s why she watches football games.
Alas, Cary didn’t receive a student ticket to today’s Bama game because the university decided to hold a lottery in which sophomores and juniors would receive tickets to EITHER the South Carolina or Alabama games. She “won” a ticket to see the Gamecocks.
(I’m glad UGA isn’t wasting tickets worth $450 apiece on the students who actually pay both tuition to study there and an activity fee to attend campus events. I hope they build a really nice building with all the money they make.)
But it wasn’t the end of the world. At least Cary would be in Athens in a festive atmosphere watching a broadcast of the game. Right?
I called her on Thursday and asked where she was watching the game.
There was a long pause. “I don’t know,” she said. “I want to watch it, I guess. If only for historical reasons.”
“If only for historical reasons?” I said. “What does that even mean?”
It meant she wanted to attend the real party, or nothing at all.
“I want to care,” she said. “I’ll try to care, for your sake.”
But all’s well that ends well. On Friday she texted me: “GOT FREE TICKETS TO BAMA!” A friend of her roommate’s father had given them tickets.
Yes, she was using all caps and even an exclamation point. Yes, she was shouting. Shouting for joy.
AND SO AM I!
At least somebody in my family besides me will be watching the big game.
At least somebody cares.
Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.