Most people eagerly anticipate Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer. It culminates with one of those quintessentially American holidays replete with barbecues, parades, and maybe even a trip to the beach if you’re lucky. This year, it fills me with dread.
In keeping with his affinity for underdog sports teams, my New York City-born husband has wholeheartedly embraced the Mississippi State University Bulldogs as his team for this college football season. He has not only forked over $780 for season tickets, but also reserved tickets for the Bulldogs’ Sept. 9 away game at Louisiana Tech. “I am going to root for this team like they’re the Mets,” he declared. The “fun” starts tomorrow. And he is determined to drag his sports-averse spouse along with him.
The end of my work day today set me off on a shopping frenzy to ensure that I am prepared for the rigors of attending a Southeastern Conference (SEC) football game. These are the tools critical to my survival:
- An SEC-sanctioned handbag. Much to my annoyance, I discovered that my 9-inch by 6-inch purse exceeds the handbag capacity standards dictated by the new clear bag policy at Davis Wade Stadium. If you don’t want the world to see all your personal items, your handbag can be no larger than your actual hand. This necessitates a trip to the Belk department store at my local mall, because no way am I going to tote my belongings around in a Ziploc bag. I spend about 20 minutes and $58 to procure an SEC-compliant accessory. Up until now, I had thought it impossible to be in a worse mood for shopping than I am when I need to buy pants. I consider myself fortunate that none of the sales associates offers to assist me, lest I err on the side of “keeping it real” and say, “Can you please help me find a purse that will pass muster with the [plural noun expletive deleted] at the SEC?”
- Camping chairs. Mike has insisted that we have a complete game-day experience, which means tailgating, albeit with a takeout lunch and no alcohol. This is perfectly fine by me because I don’t want to risk becoming someone else’s entertainment. However, beach chairs have long been our only portable outdoor furniture. With the onset of middle age and increased knee creakiness, seating with a higher center of gravity is in order. At Walmart, I am determined to avoid the “game day” end cap display, where my choices of seating are Ole Miss logo, Mississippi State logo, or camouflage. In the sporting goods section, I briefly toy with being passive-aggressively contrarian and going for orange, the color of my alma mater, Syracuse University, but those chairs are on the cheap side. I decide to spring for something a tad more deluxe.
- Earplugs. Mike has been warning me for weeks that, per his co-workers, noise protection is critical for these games. I find myself seriously considering noise-canceling headphones, but in the end, I can’t justify shelling out $250 to $350 at Best Buy. So it’s on to Walgreens to buy silicone earplugs with a 22-decibel rating instead. [Eds note: I had to make a return trip this morning after an alert Facebook friend from high school pointed out that foam earplugs would be more effective.]
Just like they do in those classic MasterCard commercials, let’s review the cost of getting ready for some football in Mississippi:
- Season tickets: $780
- SEC-compliant handbag that is easily rifled through by stadium security: $57.92
- Camping chairs: $28.32
- Earplugs: $5.79 [Update: now $6.29]
- Experiencing Mississippi State University football: You cannot pay me enough to do this. But I am doing it for free, so it’s a win for the husband.
TO BE CONTINUED …