It was possibly the most surreal away game road trip I’ve taken. I picked up my friend Tex from Grapevine, Texas, at the airport, and were joined by Paul W for the trek to Cullowhee for the Furman game against Western Carolina University.
Imagine, if you will, the stereotypical sitcom scenario – the college buddy you haven’t seen in years shows up, somewhat tipsy, and begins regailing everyone with tails of your exploits. Every phrase begins something like, "Remember that time freshman year?…" Tex then proceeded to shout obscenities from the convertible at any passing entity – human, canine, inorganic, etc – whether real or imagined.
As we drove up Highway 25 toward Tuxedo, Tex tossed his hat out as an offering to the greenness (two "n"’s or one?) of the mountains. Paul, sitting in the back seat responded,
We’re going to get beat up tonight, aren’t we?
The tales got taller with each retelling, and even included Tex telling Paul that I had shot a man on the mall just to watch him die. According to Tex, I apparently beat him up on a regular basis, too. At that point, it didn’t seem like such a bad idea.
We made it safely to Dillsboro without incurring the wrath of any motorists, and joined the Furman Faithful that had gathered at the Dillsboro Smokehouse Barbeque Pit. Tex was insistent on introducing me to everyone there, whether he knew them or not. Somehow Paul was spared.
We arrived at the stadium, found our other friends, hung out at a tailgate, and made our way to our seats, in that order. The sea of purple was confusing, being the predominant color for both schools. Even though their colors are purple and gold, they use enough white in their logos and as accents to really confuse everything more. To make matters worse, the guest seating was on the HOME SIDE! Without looking at the actual lettering on the T-Shirts, etc., it was hard to tell who was cheering for whom at first.
Furman’s performance was disasterous. It was as if they had forgotten how to play, any many of Ingle Martin’s passes found themselves in the hands of WCU defenders. Two ardent fans behind us had colorful expressions for our team…
Go, Ingle Bells! (directed at Martin)
You striped turkey! (multiple times, directed at the refs)
Shortly after half-time, with the score 21-0, a gentleman across the aisle suffered heart problems. EMS responded, and there was localized distraction, but the game (and audience’s response) continued as if no one’s life were in danger. As he was lifted out on the streacher, the gentleman gave high-fives up the aisle. I was confused as to protocol. Normally you applaud an injured player coming off the field. Should we have applauded?
Our situation on the field did not improve. With WCU up 27-0 late in the third quarter we decided to leave (amidst scowls from the Furman Faithful.) The trip home was slowed with terrible traffic through Asheville, but we made it back home to add injury to insult with martinis. Final score…
WCU 41 – Furman 21