By some accounts, the University of Utah football season ended last week up in Corvallis. The Utes had traveled there to play Oregon State. I traveled there, too, along with my good friend Joe Caputo. I’d like to clear up a nasty rumor about Joe. I slept in the room next to his, and despite what people have said about his sleeping habits, I could not hear his snoring through the wall. We flew into Portland and stayed in Beaverton, Ore. On game day, we left Beaverton on a spiffy limo-bus with about 20 other Utah fans for the two-hour drive to Corvallis. The ride was a tad rowdy.
With some former Ute players aboard mixing it up with an array of other crazed fans, it was only a matter of time before the alcohol ran out—which it did, just as we entered the Mayberryesque city of Corvallis. Being used to the barren sprawl of the Salt Lake Valley, the tidy streets and picket-fence homes of Corvallis sent me into a time warp. I expected Opie to hold up a carp at any moment. But before he could, a liquor store appeared next to what looked like Floyd’s barbershop. Out ran the liquor mules who returned with three jugs of Jack Daniel’s, a drink I gave up back in the 1970s. Instant headache.
Not that it mattered. Besides the driver and hostess, I was likely dead last among liquor consumers anyway. I had all of two drinks the entire ride, not needing to imbibe to fully enjoy the singing, the camaraderie, the jokes, the optimism and the urine art. By midroute, the interior of the ever-shifting and nearly impossible-to-stand-within bathroom stall resembled a Jackson Pollock canvas. The women aboard our bus were far tougher than I. If you had seen it, you’d agree that the Men Are Pigs debate needs no additional evidence.
If nothing else, Corvallis knows how to tailgate. Beaver fans were encamped in every direction on every street radiating out from Reser Stadium. We were surrounded. After a quick meal, we headed for the game. It was very hot and, along the way, I got sick. No sooner did we enter the stadium when Joe asked if I wanted to go to first aid. With my left hand and forearm swollen to the size of a Parma ham and my right arm approaching the girth of your basic Genoa salami—the kind I buy from Joe’s cousin, Tony Caputo—I said yes, and we walked back down the three flights of stairs to the first-aid station.
I watched the first half of the game on TV in the first-aid room. The only notable thing about that was that I found out early how badly injured Ute players running back Matt Asiata and quarterback Brian Johnson were. By halftime, I had drunk three Gatorades and two bottles of water. My blood pressure was high but not off the charts, and the quickie EKG they did was normal, so they guessed I was dehydrated. That led me to think I shouldn’t have held a grudge so long against Jack Daniel’s.
At the start of the second half, I took my one and only step into the stadium itself, then headed back for the bus with Joe. Bad news: I don’t know how Joe, who led me in an endless lost loop around the stadium, survived his recon jungles days of Vietnam. Good news: Joe stayed with me the entire time, proving the adage that Marines don’t leave anyone behind. I feel bad that Joe missed the game. I’ll get over it.
No sooner had we started our return to Beaverton when somebody plunked in an AC/DC Live in Concert DVD and cranked the volume to nearly full blast. I swear I missed a decade or two. I had a vague memory of perhaps one AC/DC song, yet everyone else on the bus—except Joe—was screaming along like they were casting for Sing Along With Mitch. Who is this Angus guy, anyway? I’ll give that guitarist this much—he can run forever. I know that, because the disc ended right when we got back to Beaverton, and he was still scowling and running back and forth like he had begun back in Corvallis. By the end of the concert, he was down to his shorts with his tongue hanging out, so he must have been dehydrated like I was. I wanted to give him a swig of my Gatorade.
On the bright side, Angus and his pals were distracting. Given the anger at the Ute loss and the size of some of the people aboard, distraction was a good thing. I basically sat there watching my hands shrink and let everyone else hoot and holler. By trip’s end, I had a pretty good respect for AC/DC, which MTV rated as the seventh-best heavy-metal band of all time. So I at least got to see one decent performance that night, and Ute fans can learn from it.
Some Ute fans think the season is over just because a couple of players got hurt. AC/DC didn’t die when their former lead singer Bon Scott died of acute alcohol poisoning. Nope. They got themselves a new and aptly named singer, Brian Johnson, and continued to have hit songs for the next 25 years. I wonder if that Brian Johnson can pass a pigskin like our injured Brian Johnson. Cosmic stuff like this happens to me a lot, so I can say with conviction that their names being the same is no coincidence. To win, the Utes need to get rid of that Darth Vader dum-dum-de-dum song and fill Rice-Eccles with some blaring AC/DC. It worked for me.
StaffBox Question: Do you have a particular song, performer or group that picks you up?Read Answers cw