You know, one of my best friends is Jewish. Everyone needs at least one close Jewish friend, because then you will always have someone to get drunk with on major holidays.
My Jewish friend’s first Irish Catholic holiday (by no means his last) was an Easter dinner; it was 1999. He sat next to me at my parents’ dining room table, prompting my Grandma, who was around 90 at the time, to ask bluntly, “who is that?” Gesturing over toward my friend with her fork, in case there was any doubt as to whom exactly she did not recognize.
“That’s the Augmentee’s friend Grandma,” my Mother gently replied.
“Oh yeah, why isn’t he with his own family?” She asked flatly. It was a valid question.
“He’s Jewish Grandma; his family doesn’t have a big dinner on Easter.” Again the answer came from my Mother, who was seated closest to Grandma, thereby giving her the best chance to hear.
We all considered the matter settled, and went back to our delicious meals; Grandma, however, was still taking the issue into consideration. She took a moment, shrugged, and concluded;
“Well, Jews gotta eat too.” And that settled it.
Later that same year, my Jewish friend and I are roommates in Porter Hall; our room is the very definition of dorm room hip; a lofted bed housed a futon couch, which faced a 27” TV, complete with a Sony Playstation. We had a George Foreman grill on which we made grilled cheese sandwiches, and five foot wide Scarface poster. It was by far the coolest room on our floor, and we had many visitors.
Aside from our undeniably sweet dormitory, something else very special was happening on campus that year. The mighty Nittany Lions, behind the strength of the most incredible defensive front seven ever assembled, were one of the best teams in the country, with pre-season number one rankings from both Sports Illustrated and the Sporting News. When Lee Corso and the college game day crowd showed up to Happy Valley for the opener against Arizona, PSU was #3 in the USAToday, and Arizona was #4. The Lions trounced the Wildcats 41-7, kicking off the most electrifying nine weeks of football I had ever witnessed (we will never speak of what happened in week 10; seriously, never).
After a laugher over Akron, the campus was charged up for a showdown with unranked Pittsburgh, which many viewed as a warm-up for the following week’s road opener at Miami; The Nittany Lions second out of conference top ten match-up of the season.
State College is always a party town, but on a home football weekend, it is absolute hysteria. We went out Friday night, like we did every Friday night (along with Saturday and Thursday, and sometime every other day) for our entire four year career. I don’t remember what we did, but if I had to guess, I would say we went to a frat party, followed by another frat party, likely followed by an apartment party, followed by throwing up, followed by another party, followed by going home around three or four in the morning.
I distinctly remember waking up at 7:30AM. One of the more gruesome of punishments one had to endure as a member of NROTC at Penn State, was selling three dollar Pepsi’s at the football home games in order to raise money for the unit. I was a sophomore at the time, so I only had to work two games; Pitt was one of those two. Misery ensued for the next several hours, as we sat in an empty Beaver stadium with our blinding hang-overs, participating in whatever hazing exercise the Seniors had cooked up for us that morning. A popular one was a race up to the top of the stadium, back down, over the fence and across the 50 yard line, 50 push-ups at the “S,” up the stadium stairs on the opposite side, and back. Typing that, just now, I suffered a heat stroke and vomited.
The pain subsided as the stadium began to fill up, and watching the teams warm up erased it completely. As always, Beaver Stadium was filled to capacity; I raced around to sell as many sodas as possible before the game, allowing me to slack off later and watch as much of the game as possible.
I don’t know how the Pepsi sales went; I do know that I dropped a full one squarely on a lady’s head. Those cups hold about a liter of cola, and it was hot. To make matters worse, I did not have a single napkin to offer her, and I imagine she curses me to this very day when she remembers sitting out in that sun, covered in sticky fountain soda (or pop as the retards from Pittsburgh call it).
The Pitt Panthers showed up to play ball, and the atmosphere was very tense. In the fourth quarter, with the score tied at 17-17; PSU managed a field goal with under 2:00 on the clock. We were on the edge of our seats as the Panthers drove up the field. They marched to the Lions’ 35 yard line, and with four seconds left lined up for a 52 yard game tying field goal. You could have heard a pin drop as Pitt snapped the ball; we held our breath as the kicker got his leg into the ball. Then Penn State’s #11, Lavar Arrington flew into the sky – I swear he was 10 feet off the ground if he was a foot – and firmly blocked the kick! PSU wins 20-17.
It was without a doubt, the most exciting thing that had ever happened. The place erupted, it was so loud! I could not stop screaming, I could not stop jumping up and down, and I needed to hug everyone. In fact, everyone needed to hug everyone – like the part of church where everyone shakes hands, and you anxiously look around for someone who’s hand you haven’t shook yet, desperate to shake one more before time is up and the boring part starts again – it was like that except the fun part was never going to stop, and instead of shaking hands it was high fives and chest bumps! It was the happiest environment imaginable!
I have no idea how long the euphoria lasted, but I hustled back to my dorm room to get showered and head back out into the town, where the party was certain to continue indefinitely. I bounded up the stairs, and charged into my room, only to see the saddest moping Jewish face; staring at the highlights of the game on the TV. Lavar’s dramatic blocked kick playing over and over again. It was very clear that he had just woken up to find that he had slept through one of the greatest of great times – he was wearing just his boxers; with the brains of the operation peeking out of the leg.
Stunned and filled with pity, I said only the first thing that came to mind;
“Dude, your balls are showing.”
Quote of the Day: On picking on a 1LT about his hot sisters:
MAJ X: Come on, have you guys even seen his sisters?
CPT: Almost sir, but I didn’t want to put in my credit card number.