I thought about wearing shorts to the Iowa game on Saturday.
My friend, Noah, got us tickets to the game from his Coca-Cola bottling distributor in Dubuque. She’s a great lady and her husband has a football mind on par with mine. That means we know enough to watch the game and complain enough to sound smart, point out some things in the field, and high five those around us who are also kinda in the know.
But shorts weren’t on the agenda when I woke up Saturday morning and it was 33 degrees out with a high projected in the low 40s. Low 40s can be shorts weather if I’m quick in and quick out of the car, but not tailgating for two hours and then spending four more at Kinnick Stadium.
I like to work on the tan, but not that much.
Our tickets included tailgating in the Hawkeye Village. If you get the chance, that’s something to take in.
It’s what we sports fans call “all-inclusive”. Free catered food from Hy-Vee, free beverages, free music, and bags. Those are cornhole bags, not anything to carry leftover steak sandwiches out in.
But I woulda if I coulda.
I think I ate three steak hoagies with A1, a couple of barbecue chicken skewers, a bratwurst, and a couple helpings of homemade shells and cheese. I had a couple beers, too.
About 30 minutes into the tailgating, Herky showed up. This was the real Herky, not some lackey who just showed up as a part of his on-campus work study.
I wanted a picture to send my daughter in New York City. I had Noah’s wife Ashley hold my camera as I went up and asked for a picture. I said I wanted to pick him up.
He flexed his arms at me as if to say, “Are you strong enough to hold me up?”
I flexed back. He flexed again at me. I nodded. He tilted his head and jumped into my arms. He was really much lighter than I anticipated, but I couldn’t help but laugh at the picture. He was all in.
Ashley fired off several pictures and I quickly went about trying to crop them on my phone and upload them to Pen City Current.
I texted my brother and my niece with the picture and they both were impressed. I’m typically the family class clown. That’s my job. To take my brother’s jabs and try to keep them smiling. I accept that role willingly and try to do my best. Most of the time it’s a job well done, but sometimes it gets old.
We walked to the stadium and stood outside the west side of the stadium for a little bit to let the crowd clear a bit. I was standing at the end of one of the close parking lots where tailgating had just wrapped up. A blue Ford heavy duty, luxury pick-up pulled up next to us and I apparently didn’t see it as the door opened and hit me in the arm.
I spun around to see if it was a sideview mirror or the door or what. Someone had opened the door right next to me and plunked me with the door.
“Hey, you just hit me with your car,” I said looking into the truck.
A young man on crutches was getting out and I went to help him get his crutches.
Mom leans over and says “He’s a player.”
“I’ll say,” I said, looking back in the cab of the truck and met with both their eyes. He smiled….she did not.
“He’s a player,” she repeated.
OHHH. Ok, so I reached in to give him a hand and he said he was fine, he just needed to get to Gate D, where the players entered. He quickly swung and skipped his way over to the gate.
“Hmmm. Wonder who that was,” I said.
He was quickly gone and we moved in to get our tickets scanned and get to our seats.
As usual, Duke Slater Field sat below a capacity crowd as the Hawks went to work. It wasn’t a performance worthy of a team formerly ranked No. 3 in the country, but it was the better of the last two, and the Hawkeyes were 0-2 since that.
I thought about not going to the game Saturday because I had jinxed the last game with Purdue, but I think the Hawkeyes jinxed their own game, too.
But this one came out on the brighter side with a 27-22 win over Minnesota.
I had put $20 on the Hawkeyes to cover 4.5 on Points Bet. There are links to the stories and betting lines on the disrict website.
When the Hawkeyes stifled a Gopher Drive in the final three minutes we headed back to our parking spot. I dropped the extras back at their truck in the Target parking lot and headed home. On the way I tuned in to Gary Dolphin’s post game chat and realized that the Hawks hit a late field goal to go up by 5.
I took the Hawkeyes giving 4.5 points. So twice in two days the Hawkeyes produced revenue for this ham and egger. The basketball team had a nice second half against University of Missouri-Kansas City to cover the over.
But I was willing to settle for the W, and give up the $20. The last time I went to Iowa City was a rough experience for Iowa against Purdue, and a rougher experience for me.
But this time with a Herky lift, some good food, good friends, and sunless sky, things went a little better all around.
It was a Saturday well spent after a long week. I still can’t do the wave yet, but the doc says I shouldn’t push, but should do what makes me comfortable.
The only thing that makes me comfortable is a good editorial on Saturday night, a few extra covers for a fall sleep, and the knowledge that my wife is here, there’s almost always a flick from the Fast & Furious franchise, or Marvel franchise on the T.V…..and Nash Bridges is back as a movie event.
Distractions are worth a ton these days. And if you need one, call the Chamber and volunteer for the Community Thanksgiving Dinner. They need drivers… and class clowns.
But that’s Beside the Point.
Chuck Vandenberg is the editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.