Saturday, November 10, 2007

True Texas Religion

I am always surprised when evidence of true Texas religion is brought to the center of my mind. Even though I grew up in a small Texas town, a few blocks from the high school (which I attended all four years), I am still surprised that high school football has such an impact on a community. Especially this community that can actually boast of other attractions: a 4-year state university (whose football team has its own impressive record), a bowling alley and a movie theatre, a Chili's and if those don't suit, Fort Worth looms only an hour away.

But this town has a mind of its own when it comes to football. Last year, I saw little girls at Lily's preschool dressed up on game days in miniature cheerleading uniforms, complete with big bow hair. Never, in all my years of growing up in small town Texas, did I ever see anything like that. Football is such a big deal here that I wondered if I was ruining my children's lives by not dressing them up like cheerleaders and having them patrol the sidelines on Friday nights. I've been told by those in the know (okay, it was my hairdresser) that I should be thankful that I don't have boys. The pressure to play football for Mudville High School starts in 4th grade.

Earlier this season, Brian and I actually took the girls to the Hamburger Scrimmage. It cost us $1 to get in and $5 each for some very poor hamburgers and fixin's. And everyone was there. I mean everyone, including the surgeon who did Brian's hernia repair. Maybe that's not such a strange thing. I guess I just didn't expect to see him there. I figured he'd be at home on a Friday night doing "surgeony" things. But there he was...wearing his Bumblebee hat and eating his overpriced, burnt burger and off-brand Oreos. As for us, once "play" actually started, we stayed about 20 minutes. I'm not a football fan in the first place, but watching a scrimmage where the coaches were on the field on every play, there was no score and and no band, well, that was just mind-numbing. Not to mention the other part of me that was numb from the aluminum bleachers.

Everything else aside, the culmination of my disbelief was brought to its peak this week. Last Tuesday, people lined up outside the high school for hours to buy tickets for Friday night's football game. One of the men who successfully purchased his 3 tickets said he's been attending Bumblebee games since 1966! On Friday, the Mudville Gazette reported the Athletic Secretary's "stunned" reaction to having nearly 500 tickets remaining. It seems that those 100 people who waited five hours outside the school only purchased 300 tickets. There was a reason for this: the powers that be put a limit on the tickets at 3 per customer. But all was not would be sold at Thursday's JV game as well. Thank goodness.

I am not completely heartless; I will concede that the tickets were for the district championship game and the Mudville Bumblebees are undefeated, but still...high school football?

Well, they were undefeated.

There was no joy in Mudville after about 10:15pm, Friday night. The Mudville Bumblebees lost their quest for the District Championship in overtime, 31-28. All is not lost, however. They are still have a playoff seat and will be trying to go the distance again this year.

The September issue of Texas Monthly had an article touting the top twenty Texas high school football programs of all time. Schools were assigned ten points for each championship and five points for being a runner-up. To reward consistency over the years, three points were awarded for each district title using overall wins as a tiebreaker. This formula yielded the top twenty teams and helped ensure that a small program had just as much of a chance as a big one, since schools play in classes that are based on enrollment.

Weighing in at Number 19 of the top 20 programs of all time.....the Mudville Bumblebees! Texas Monthly had this to say about them:

Known as the state's most prolific quarterback factory, [Mudville] has produced nine top recruits for Division I-A college programs since 1989 (including Jevan Snead, who bolted from the University of Texas last year to play for Ole Miss). Much of the credit for this talent goes to former head coach Art Briles, who led the [Bumblebees] to all four of their state titles. The best known quarterback of the crop, Kevin Kolb, followed Briles to the University of Houston, where he started for four straight years. He was also the thirty-sixth overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft, taken by the Philadelphia Eagles.

This year's star quarterback has already verbally agreed to play at Oklahoma State University and become a Poke. I have been told, by a very dear friend and former alumna, that I am not allowed to call them the Slow Pokes.

I know a guy who transferred his son to Mudville High School so that he would have an opportunity to play for this team. I actually laughed out loud when he told me this. That was definitely the wrong response. He assured me that this football program was top in the state and even if I hadn't heard of it, he was sure that Brian had. I told him that Brian and I both come from 5A schools and that I would guarantee Brian hadn't heard of this Podunk 2A group. That was an even worse thing to say...Mudville is, ahem, a 4A school. Who knew? I am laughing to myself right now recalling this very serious conversation. This family has been nurturing this child's athletic abilities, apparently since Day One. I think they believe that if their son plays for Mudville, he might have a chance to go all the way.....all the way to the Cowboys. And we're not talking about the Slow Pokes.

And then I really have to laugh. Because there is this very wicked part of me that wants to stand up wherever I see men gathered...especially when the Cowboys are playing...and say really, really loud: The Cowboys Suck. Just to see what would happen.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Preparing For Baby

We now have less than a month before the newest arrival to our all-girl collection.

We've been adding meals and meat to our freezer, stocking up on long-sleeved onesies and warm jammies and perusing catalogs to get Christmas shopping done without leaving home. (Shopping becomes problematic when the closest mall or even a Target is an hour's drive away.) I've ordered my cradle set, a case of diapers and a 300 oz. bottle of Dreft. We only lack a bouncy seat since our previous canine companion ate the one that was purchased for Darcy.

Another ultrasound last week verified two things. First, we are still having a girl. Even with my limited medical training (read: none), I was able to identify the parts as female. After finally accepting that we are going to be a family of all girls (at least for now), I would really be put out with medical science if I had to return all my newly acquired girly purchases for flannel shirts and overalls. Secondly, there is only one baby in there. I was reasonably sure of this, but it is a popular question that I get asked when I venture out in public.

I've been limiting my public appearances of late. Mostly, because I feel like a freak at a side show. My shirt and pants don't match up very well and everywhere I go, people point and whisper. Some people don't even bother to whisper. I am constantly harangued by women I refer to as "old wives". They believe I should already be in the hospital, know it's a boy, and assure me that I'll never make it to December. They tell each other that I must be about to pop or I've got twins. They even speculate on the actual weight of the baby at her birth. One clerk at Kohl's predicted 8 pounds and 5 ounces.

According to my latest ultrasound, the baby currently weighs 7.5 pounds. With a month to go. The doctor (whose opinion I actually value) is predicting a baby in the 9-10 pound range...and he doesn't seem alarmed. As for me, I was a little alarmed, especially when I realized that this baby could gain a pound a week for the next 4 weeks. Yikes. However, I'm scheduled for a C-section on December 3rd, so I guess it doesn't really matter how big the baby is. Except I'll be carrying her around between now and then and honestly, she's starting to get heavy.

I'm just grateful it's not the middle of summer. And I have a reasonable expectation that I won't have to evacuate the week before this baby is due. In fact, hurricane season will officially be over before this baby is scheduled to arrive. And that is a relief. Now, if I could just get that bouncy seat.