It’s the day after the big college football rivalry in my part of the country. Ohio State versus Michigan. Family members are basking in the victory, proud of their OSU Buckeyes. As for me. I’m just basking. In the Florida sun while on vacation. I’m happy for the family, of course, but I will admit that when it comes to football I’m in la-la land.
Those who know me well know that I’m no whiz when it comes to any type of sports, whether I’m spectating or participating. Unless you count that period of life when I showed my horse (and most people view equestrian activities as a sport different from activities that involve kicking or throwing a ball), I’d rather be reading a book or writing. Or shopping. Or planning a dinner party. Anything but sports. In elementary school, I was always the last one chosen for kickball, and I tried to get away with wearing a dress on as many gym days as possible in order to receive permission to sit on the sidelines.
However, my entire family are all OSU Buckeye fans; in fact, one season Dad planted a HUGE inflatable version of mascot Brutus Buckeye in my folks’ front yard. It looked like a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The East Coast was my home at the time and I wasn’t around when the blow-up doll was installed, but the family sent a photo with the caption: “Don’t you wish you still lived here?”
Given all of this, a recent encounter I had is kind of funny—in both “ha-ha” and “weird” ways. While standing in line at the John Glenn International Airport, the man directly in front of me turned around and started chatting. He was very nice. The conversation centered around the fact that we had to move to a new gate because our plane developed mechanical trouble. He was sharing with me what he heard the crew saying about the delay, and we agreed that it was better to arrive late and safely than not arrive at all. He had an armful of papers and a briefcase type of thing slung over his shoulder. He was also carrying a brown paper bag and shared that he was taking his mother-in-law a special culinary treat that he picked up near the OSU campus. He admitted to being very tired, but again reiterated that he would gladly wait for a plane that was mechanically sound. He seemed unassuming, or maybe I was really tired, too. But he was friendly and we enjoyed a short conversation.
My mother, a huge Buckeyes fan, was at the airport in line behind me. It was obvious to me that she was straining to read the tag on the man’s bag. “What’s that say?” she whispered to me. But I couldn’t read it and simply shrugged my shoulders. Soon thereafter, we all boarded the plane and nothing more was mentioned.
Until a few days later.
During Thanksgiving dinner, just two days before the Ohio State-Michigan game, my mother announced to family members gathered around the table that I’d had a conversation at the airport with Michigan’s Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. She said she didn’t say anything at the airport because she didn’t want to cause a scene with the game just days away. And then she forgot all about it until Thanksgiving dinner conversation turned to game-day predictions.
This is how clueless I am about football: I had no idea whatsoever that I was having a pleasant conversation with the head coach of the team that is Ohio State’s biggest rival. After all, I do not follow football. But sure enough, it was Jim Harbaugh. There he was yesterday, larger than life on national TV. And, yes, it was indeed the same guy I talked with at the airport.
During our chat he seemed like a genuine and nice guy. So I do feel sorry for his game day loss. But within reason. Once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye, I guess. I was born in Ohio and was raised by Buckeyes. So even though I don’t have that special glow family members are sporting today, I’m happy their team won. (Just leave the inflatable Brutus Buckeye doll off the front lawn. Please.)