It was the winter of 1973. I was a high school freshman, but I had friends who were a year younger than I was, so I still sometimes did stuff at their school. On this night, it was a basketball game. It was an away game. And we lost.
Now this was more than thirty years ago, so the details are a bit hazy, but as I remember it, I got home sobbing with tears streaming down my face. I wasn't just angry about the officiating (which I thought was the cause of the defeat); I was fundamentally shaken. My world had turned upside down, and my heart was broken. My mother tried to comfort me, but it didn't take away the pain.
And since that night, I have not been a very good booster.
So it is with some hesitation that I tell you that tonite we went to see the University of Texas tower lit in celebration of the football team's recent Rose Bowl victory and ascendency to the national championship.
Following well-defined protocol, the tower was very orange. The top was shining brightly, and a gradually fading wash of orange lit the straight sides. The numeral 1 was encoded in eleven stories of three-across-windows on each of the tower's four faces.
A plane circled overhead. People streamed in from all directions. On the oak-lined South Mall, a throng of people stood and stared. Many had cameras. Some had tripods. And some sat gawking from the windows of their SUVs as cars lined up behind them. In the distance, the traffic on the upper deck of the interstate slowed as drivers took in the view.
Gregg and Kelley looked at us and said,
Gregg produced a camera, and Kelley handed us two white caps with burnt orange longhorns embroidered on the front. I shook my head, but there really was no getting out of it. So I put my arm around Trudy and smiled for the picture.
Then we took one or two of them.
I tell you this tonite so that if you happen ever to come across a photo of Trudy and me in caps in front of a glowing orange UT tower at night, you might remember this, even if it does make me a curmudgeon in the wake of a national championship:
I am not a very good booster. The spirit in me died after that basketball game in the winter of 1973.
Hook 'em horns.
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