A strange thing happened to me last Friday
night. And no, unlike most other college tales that begin with that
sentence (especially those that take place during welcome week),
this one does not involve a drop of Natty Light. In fact, remaining
alcohol-free was the main theme of the story.

Gennaro Filice

This awkward incident was a big win for football Saturdays
— at least my experiences with football Saturdays.

Returning to my home sweet home at 633 Church St., I was ready
to fight the battle that I’ve faced every Friday night prior
to a home game for the last four years. It began as it always does
with the same simple inquiry, “What are you doing
tonight?”

But my response is intentionally ambiguous:
“Chillin’.”

What a word, “chillin’.” For it can mean so
many things. You can be “chillin’ ” in your silk
shirt and Mavi’s, sipping a flat beer at Rick’s (the
socially accepted Friday night); you can be “chillin’
” in a T-shirt, shorts and sandals playing beer pong at a
house party (the most enjoyable Friday night); or you can be
“chillin’ ” in your boxers, recruiting for an
NCAA 2005 Dynasty in your room (my Friday night during college
football season). My pure infatuation with college football rivals
is unparalleled. Therefore, my No. 1 priority on Friday night is
getting enough beauty sleep so I can fully enjoy gameday.

Usually my friends — who have an unbelievable concern for
my social well-being — berate me and question my manhood for
choosing to handle the PS2 instead of the O.E. 800. But, last
Friday night was different. Not only did my friends accept my
night’s plan, they even humored me by asking about the coming
games. I think that they’ve finally come to realize that
while Christians enjoy Christmas, lovers love Valentine’s Day
and selfish folks live for their birthdays, Gennaro (I apologize
for going Primetime on you with this third person reference) was
put on this earth to experience Ann Arbor when Michigan Stadium is
active.

There are just so many reasons to absolutely adore home games

A2 in the a.m.: It takes something truly special for college
students to rise from slumber before the sun has risen on the west
coast. Football Saturday is one of the few days of the year when
Ann Arbor has any morning activity (I believe there’s also an
Irish drinking day in March that breeds pre-noon commotion.)

Turn my headphones up: In recent years, the drum rapper outside
of the IM building — “The Hoover Street Hustler”
is what I refer to him as — has become somewhat of an Ann
Arbor legend. When I passed him last Saturday, HSH was being
hassled by two DPS officers, who claimed that singing on a
microphone in the street is illegal. HSH defended his actions by
citing the Bill of Rights. You know you’re in Ann Arbor when
a man will fight The Man so he can recite lyrical gems that go
something like, “Hey, you in the shirt that’s blue, if
you give me some money, I’ll put it in my shoe.”

The Step Shoe: Nothing gets you more ready to enter the Big
House than hearing those tenor drums — the heart of every
college band — outside of Revelli Hall.

Banner bashin’: I get goose bumps every time I spot the
first pair of maize pants in the tunnel on the east side of the
stadium. Within a few seconds, the entire tunnel is filled to the
brim with uncontrollable energy. Suddenly the players explode out
and the energy boils over with each slap of the “Go
Blue” banner.

Packin’ it in: To me, the sheer number of fans is not the
most amazing aspect of the Big House. But rather, the fact that the
“House” is far from “big.” Michigan
Stadium’s bench seating makes oxygen a premium for any fan.
In fact, with all the arm and body contortions that are necessary
for every fan to fit, watching a Michigan game becomes eerily
similar to cuddling.

I’m only happy when it rains: Although it’s nice to
have a few games with sunny weather, I really like the dark skies
and cool temperatures. Anyone can come out the Big House on an
80-degree day, but poor weather separates the true fans from the
sorority girls (sorry ladies, but am I lying?).

I grew up watching football in Cal’s Memorial Stadium
where sunshine was far too frequent. In Michigan Stadium, the
weather indicates the game’s implications: The grayer the
sky, the later in the year, and therefore, the higher the
stakes.

Postgame R&R: The gap between when the game ends and the bar
scene begins is a perfect counter to the game’s emotional
ride. Being one of the most critical fan bases in the country,
Michigan fans like to devote a good three or four hours following
the game to break down the small intricacies of what unfolded on
the field. This reflection period covers many things, but one thing
that comes up every week is Lloyd Carr’s name, which somehow
is either being dragged through the mud or mentioned in the same
sentence as Bo — nothing in between.

As you can see, talking about Ann Arbor’s occurrences on
football Saturday really tickles my fancy.

But I really need to stop before I get too excited. We’re
just a week away from the second home game of the year, and my
freshly-cleaned cotton sheets are calling my name.

 

—Gennaro Filice wishes that he could love
Valentine’s Day, but he needs a lover. And yes, he is willing
to place a shameless “girls wanted” ploy at the end of
his column. He can be reached at
“mailto:gfilice@umich.edu.”>gfilice@umich.edu.

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