2018-01-10 / Editorials

Don Lively

ROSE AND ME

Once in a lifetime opportunities don't come along often.

Theoretically, only once in a lifetime.

I know that sounds silly.

But the definition of "once in a lifetime" has changed dramatically just since I've been on Earth. When I was a lad I thought that seeing the Grand Canyon would be something I'd get to experience only once, if ever. I've been there twice. I once thought that the Hawaiian Islands were so far away that one trip there would be all I'd ever manage. I've been there three times. And Alaska, so remote and so mysterious, was only a dream. I've only been there once but, if the Lord tarries, I will go again.

The point of all this is, the world is no longer a huge orb that's mostly beyond the limits of the average traveler. It's why a man like me, of average means but unlimited curiosity, has visited all fifty states and a few other foreign destinations with more on the horizon.

But there are some things, due to circumstances beyond one's control, one really might only get one shot at.

Such an event presented itself to me recently.

As always with me, there's a bit of a back story.

My bride and I were listening to a news program recently about a travesty of justice in California involving a murder in a so-called "sanctuary city". I was so incensed that I told her I never wanted to spend another penny or set another foot in California.

God smiled.

The next day my Georgia Dawgs won the SEC Championship and accepted a bid to play in the Rose Bowl.

The Granddaddy Of Them All.

In California.

I immediately knew two things.

One, it would be terribly unwise for me to go. It would be way too expensive after two other recent trips with my wife. The smart thing to do would be to watch it with a group of kin and friends on the big screen.

Two, I knew that if my wife had no strong objections, I was going.

She had none.

I went.

I waited two days until the initial ticket frenzy ended and bought a decent seat for not much more than face value.

Having long ago learned to travel cheaply, I spent three hours booking flights and rental cars, and hotels near Pasadena.

Suddenly it was a reality.

I was going to see my team play in the Rose Bowl, a place they had not visited since Daddy was still in Europe fighting Hitler.

I spent the next three weeks casually telling friends and family, "Yeah, I'm going to Pasadena."

I can be obnoxious when I try hard.

I'll spare you the details of the cramped airline seating.

And, another time, I'll tell you all about crossing the spectacular Mojave Desert under a nearly full moon.

This was all about one very special game that I enjoyed with 92,000 of my closest friends.

The Rose Bowl stadium is even more beautiful that I'd imagined. After seeing it on TV my whole life, being there was like a dream.

Legendary college football broadcaster Chris Schenkel's "color and pageantry" was on full display on the outside.

Inside, after moving through the storied tunnels, it got even better.

The energy level was higher than at any game I'd ever attended. I was surrounded by mostly Georgia fans with a few Sooner followers scattered about, in fact, I'd guess 75 percent of the seats throughout the venue were Dawg folks. Both team's marching bands were at their best. A rousing rendition of the National Anthem got the crowd to its feet and when the stealth bomber flew directly over my head my breath was taken away.

I'd just seen one of the most patriotic displays of my lifetime.

In California.

Imagine the irony.

Then there was the little matter of the game.

And what a game!

If you live in the Blessed South and you have a pulse you know who won.

The Dawgs!

It was a titanic struggle with both teams playing their hearts out, one of those games where it was a shame there had to be a loser.

The Dawgs won!

The Rose Bowl!

The most famous and celebrated of all the bowls.

The Dawgs won the Rose Bowl!

If history holds my boys will play there again in 74 years.

Wow.

I'll only be 138.

It's possible.

We'll finish up the Rose Bowl ramblings next week.

Till then, there's one more game.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin' At The Dixie Moon, and, South O' Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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