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... marred only by the butt-kicking that came at the end of the day. As CQ readers know, I went to USC -- to enemy territory -- to watch the Fighting Irish get swamped out by a charged-up Trojans football team that may have an outside chance at the national championship, and might just deserve it. If you watched the game, you'll already feel my pain, but let's just say that the Irish have executed better on both offense and defense, and that these Trojans may not.
But a funny thing happened to me in my incursion into enemy territory -- I made a few friends. My uncle and I spent all day at USC and the Coliseum, wandering around campus and taking in the sights. We watched the Trojan band practice at the track & field stadium for about an hour or so, went to the sports awards hall, and basically wandered around the campus for over three hours. My Irish jersey and cap got lots of attention, but the teasing was all good-natured and friendly, and often followed by welcoming chats. Other Irish fans said hello, apparently looking for the moral support we would need in the evening.
When we returned to the van for some tailgating, we sat on our own for a while, eating a couple of Subway sandwiches I picked up, until we needed to move our stand-alone awning to free up parking space. We were going to pack it up and watch TV in the van until the game started, but the family behind us insisted that we join them and bring the awning. Mike, Dina, Sharon, and Don also insisted that we share their food and drink, and we spent more than two hours doing just that, enjoying Don's barbecued ribs and shrimp and Dina's candied apples. We had nothing to bring ourselves, but they didn't mind sharing a bit, and we had a wonderful time shooting the bull and teasing each other about the game. Sharon and Don do a little traveling now and play golf, while Mike and Dina went to my alma mater, Fullerton State, a few years after I did. (They did better than me -- they graduated and went to law school.) We exchanged pictures of our kids and talked about our families, and let me tell you, I enjoyed every last minute of it.
Everyone we met was there to have a good time and enjoy one of the classiest rivalries in college football, and that's exactly what we all did. Someone had to lose, and this time it was us ... but something tells me everyone won in the end.
Here's a picture of our new friends:
And here's a picture of my uncle and me at the game. The man who took the shot told us that we should have paid him for it, and even though he was joking, now I see why; it's one of the best pictures I've taken in years:
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