… I don’t know if it’s all that important, but I was not affiliated with any particular political party at the time my boyfriend and I were saving seats for the Campus Democrats at our Homecoming game (if you missed yesterday’s post, here you go), but still perfectly happy to stave off drunk fraternity guys for a full two hours for a governor my parents had actively worked to keep from office just a year or two before.
My parents, probably trying to avoid showing how completely distraught they were over my dating this guy, were really good sports about the whole thing.
We arrived before the fraternity pledges who were supposed to be saving seats, and taped “Reserved for the Governor’s Party” signs to a section a few rows up from the field. We chatted for a while as people started to show up for the game.
There was consternation on the part of a few of those just arriving about the fact that a good portion of the seats in this section already reserved. Other students just ignored the signs altogether and sat down where they pleased.
“Excuse me,” I’d say, in a friendly way when someone sat down on a sign, “we’re saving these for the governor’s party.”
At this, I’d get a half-lidded stare from a drunk adolescent, and maybe a “whatever.”
That was if the interaction went well, which most of the time it didn’t. Most of the time, when I pointed out the students were sitting in what were supposed to be reserved seats, I got a face full of expletives and maybe a full-throated belch to boot.
“You can’t do that, lady, this is ‘Merica,” one girl yelled at me after stumbling into a seat that was clearly marked as saved.
As if I was turning our college football stadium into North Korea, and this section of bleachers was for Our Dear Leader.
Things got steadily worse. My parents held their own on the bleachers with all the drunkards, and I harassed and elbowed and hollered and generally risked my own hide to save seats for a governor for whom I couldn’t give a rip.
Why? Because, give me a task that’s mundane or pointless or distinctly un-fun but also includes an opportunity for a drunken fistfight with a bunch of fraternity boys and I’m all in.
And where was my boyfriend? As you can imagine, a person with the expectation that the worst is always going to happen is not one to show a lot of gumption in a situation involving fights with drunk college kids. I am not all that sure why he agreed to be the person reserving seats at a football game anyway, except maybe he thought the signs we’d made with the name of our governor would impress our fellow students more than they apparently did.
As students first started to arrive, and at the first sign of conflict, he mumbled something like “never mind.” Then he sat down, sort of near my parents, and hunched over. He seemed to get smaller every time I looked at him.
And then, finally, the governor and his party arrived.
I watched him descend with his entourage from the entrance at the top of the bleachers, stopping to glad-hand about a dozen students on his way down. I thought he was taking his sweet time about things. I gestured at him while trying to making eye contact with as many drunkards as I could. See, people? The GOVERNOR. I freaking TOLD YOU.
Wouldn’t they feel stupid now?
But, they actually didn’t care. They were all pumping their fists to the school fight song, or hamming it up for the cameras from the local television station. They’d lost interest for the moment in fighting me for prime bleacher real estate.
I looked back up, and waved both arms at the group of gubernatorial dignitaries.
They didn’t see me.
They were edging their way past people already seated, sidling into a row a good dozen or so above the two we’d saved for them. They were squeezing into a space some people – who were probably considerably less drunk than our immediate neighbors – had politely scooted over to make.
In their defense, members of the governor’s party may have been looking for my boyfriend, who at this point was doing his best to imitate a piece of lint someone would flick from a lapel. It must have been easy to miss him in the melee.
What does all of this have to do with managing expectations? About making decisions on based on something other than fear?
What business does a little loud girl, for that matter, have strong-arming a saved seat from a bunch of alcohol fueled, sweaty meat heads intent on ignoring a football game from the best vantage point in the stadium?
I’d like to think it means that I am not going to fail at something to which I’ve set my mind, something I have to remind myself these days when anxiety and doubt creeps up and threatens to overwhelm.
I worry that it means that I’ll stick with a pointless exercise long after it becomes clear that it’s pointless, or even dangerous, and for no reason whatsoever.
I’ve told you about how Mike came to work with me a little over a month ago. And now we’re in that place where everything could turn out awesome, or we could go down in flames. This and the question of how we carve our own paths, the nature of risk and of hope and of expecting the best has me waking up earlier than the alarm most mornings.
Sometimes, success doesn’t mean you actually get to sit with the governor. Sometimes success just means you don’t get killed by a drunk mob doing while engaged in something that was never supposed to be your job in the first place.
We’re kind of shooting for something beyond that.
PS Mike would like me to point out that he is not the boyfriend in this story. As if you didn’t realize that.
Have you voted yet? You can, you know, at least once a day. Thank you.
photo by: theslowlane