In Washington, Thanksgiving ushers in friends, family, turkey dinners and good old fashioned rivalry in the form of the Apple Cup – the yearly University of Washington (Huskies) v. Washington State (Cougars) college football showdown. The match-up takes place every year on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend and alternates between the rival schools’ campuses. This year, the contest was on at Husky stadium, mere walking distance from our home.
My husband attended both schools (WSU for undergrad, UW for grad school) so you would think he would be conflicted, but he’s not. He’s a true Husky fan (I think it has to do with the fact that the Cougs blew when he went to WSU) and when the Apple Cup rolls into town, he’s there, often with one or both of his daughters. This year, I agreed to join in the fun.
Now this simple statement tells a lot about how far I’ve come since I moved here. As a So. Cal. girl, the thought of going to an event that takes place outside, in November, in 45 degree weather with a strong chance of wind and rain and doesn’t even start until 3:30 pm so that it will assuredly get colder as you sit there for 3+ hours on metal benches is about as enticing as getting triple dog-dared to stick your tongue to a frozen flagpole. This year, however, I readily accepted my husband’s invitation – with the requirement that he get seats under cover, of course.
Shortly before we left I got ready – ski socks, silk long underwear top and bottoms, jeans, low-cut socks over my ski socks, a Huskies sweatshirt over my turtleneck style long underwear top, tennis shoes and of course, a backpack with another sweater, hat, gloves, a blanket, sudafed, chapstick and kleenex. Thus ensembled like the youngest brother in “A Christmas Story” I headed out with my husband and his girls.
We arrived about an hour before game time and crashed a tailgate party of one of my husband’s colleagues. I did my undergrad at University of California Santa Barbara (now lovingly referred to as the University of Sex and Booze). When I was a freshman, we voted to withdraw funding from our football team because they sucked and we didn’t want to pay an extra $25 a quarter to continue their losing streak, so I don’t exactly come from a college football culture. My husband does. And where he comes from true tailgates start early – for a 3:30 game, no later than noon, for a 12:30 game, 9:30 am. So our 2:15pm arrival was super late by his standards. but still, we got to visit with friends, snack on some good non-traditional (chinese pasta salad) and traditional (sandwiches, potato salad, guac and chips) tailgate food and get a few beers down before it was time to head into the game. Some of the fans never made it in(girls who obviously had no idea what their tolerance level was and had drunk to the point where they couldn’t stand), but the stadium (which seats 72,500) was still 95% full.
We found our seats and settled in. Not long after we were seated, the woman in front of me started chatting with my husband, asking him something about the game. My husband good naturedly answered and made some joke and she continued to engage him off and on through the first quarter with some intermittant flirting, my husband completely oblivious to her interest. Now some people might be annoyed by this, I wasn’t. I think it’s great that other women find my husband attractive – I mean, I do – and I’m not terribly worried that he’s going to run off and leave me for some woman he met at the Apple Cup (although if he did, I could celebrate the day by crying with girlfriends over apple martinis, which would be awesome in its cheese factor). Besides, I think it’s kind of cute how he’s so oblivious these days to women flirting with him. In between chatting with the woman in front of us, he was answering questions about plays from his daughter Lauren and watching the game. Between the first and second quarters my husband was explaining some other point to his daughter, when the woman turned around and asked him if we were “his three daughters.” Now my husband is a bit older than me, but when he told her I was his wife and her shocked comment was “Really, she’s so young!” I had to stop myself from laughing out loud. This woman was at most, 5 years older than me, and while I would love to think I look substantially younger than my age – I don’t, at least not by more than a year or two. She was less chatty after that revelation for some reason. Huh.
The game itself was a total blow-out, despite the refs offering some heavy help to the Cougars. Indeed, at one point we wondered if the refs had money on the game because they reversed an interception call – 2 plays later, right after the Huskies had beat the point spread! But instead of doing a true reversal and resetting the clock and stripping the Huskies of the touchdown, they just gave the Cougs possession with a minute remaining. And the point of that reversal was? Final score 30-0. Sorry Cougs, that’s gotta hurt!
We had a great day, with a little adventure, which always makes the day better. Here’s a snippet from the game so you can experience a bit of Husky football for yourself. Enjoy!