Two Saturday mornings ago, as I reclined on the den sofa in a fevered sweat, the rims of my eyes red and watery, my husband came in and asked, in an unsympathetic tone, "Do you feel as bad as you look?"
I grunted a weak and raspy reply, "Worse."
"Well, you're still going to the game with me, right," he desperately encouraged.
I croaked out, "You know I would do anything for the Bulldog Nation."
"Good," he said. "I called the babysitter and she's coming an hour earlier, so jump up, go upstairs and get on your game face."
"Yes sir, coach." I could barely crawl, much less jump or scale a flight of stairs. "Won't these red pajamas be okay?"
He rolled his eyes.
"If I start to feel bad at the game, will you bring me home," I hopefully inquired, holding back a pitiful sniffle.
"How bad?" he skeptically questioned.
We eventually negotiated that if my head lolled to the right (the left side, he said, brings our team good luck) and my tongue grotesquely protruded from my mouth (in what he deemed an odd manner), he would consider taking me home - if 1) the game wasn't close, or 2) the hairy dawgs weren't hunkered down, about to score, or 3) he couldn't get a Boy Scout to revive me.
Waiting for the game to start, I slumped in my seat, regretting the seven hours of tailgating. During moments of consciousness, I considered whether the oppressive heat, or my unnaturally high body temperature, made me feel like every fan in the stadium sat crowded onto my bench. My legs went limp.
But when I heard the melodious notes of the Battle Hymn Republic played by the lone trumpeter, I willed myself to stand. Trying to listen, without falling down, to the voice of the announcer skillfully recounting sentimental, historical moments in Georgia football, dating back to the days of whipping Yale on Herty field, I propped against the woman in front of me; which must have been okay, since the guy next to her repeatedly swayed in her direction, too. She had that magnetic quality.
Everything after the first "go-o-o-o-o dogs, sic' 'em" is shrouded in a septic haze. The only thing that stands out in particular is that the University of Georgia triumphed over the orange foe - a detail, however, even my dead grandmother didn't miss.
The next morning I awoke plastered to the bed, all of my joints aching, knowing I wouldn't make it to Sunday school. And for a moment, I feared that if I passed to the ever-after this day, that I might not have the good fortune of going on to greener gridirons. After all, I did choose football over church.
I silently prayed, asking the Lord to pass over me, but also requesting that if He saw fit to call me hither, to please consider allowing me to spend eternity between the hedges, because there are no greener pastures than there.
As you have by now guessed, He let me linger here a little longer, giving me another chance to redeem myself; which is a relief, since there is no assurance in the Bible, despite my Autumn Saturday prayer vigils, that God truly is a football fan, and even less scriptural evidence to support my fervent belief that He favors the SEC.
I've just been going on faith all these years.
Yet, as I said earlier, I would do anything for my Dawgs (except, maybe, eat a bowl of worms).