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The infinite Syracuse football road trip diary: Middle Tennessee

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Ate stuff! Drank stuff! Some of it was good! Some of it was awful!

Hoya Suxa is aiming to attend 7 of Syracuse's 12 regular season football games this year. He'll be filing short travelogues from his journeys.

THERE IS NO SITUATION LIKE AN ESCALATED SITUATION

“Everything I’ve learned about life can be summed up in three words: ‘It goes on.’”

Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories, Joyce Carol Oates

* * * * * *

There, outside the Carrier Dome following Syracuse’s loss to Middle Tennessee State on a clear September evening, Dino Babers was drugged and dragged into an unmarked van, speedily driven to an undisclosed location where he would be tied to a chair and stripped, a lone overhead lamp leaving shadows across a vacant floor. Babers, wearing the face of a man physically beaten and mentally thrashed, winced as he raised his head and peered into the abyss in front of him.

“What . . . what do you want? Where am I?”

A screaming hand slapped Babers across the face. In the darkness are men in ski caps and “Shut It Down” t-shirts, furious with Babers as if Babers poured gasoline over their own children and lit them aflame, cackling as the Syracuse head coach walked from the carnage with a cigar placed smartly in the corner of his mouth.

“WHERE ARE THE WINS, DINO?! YOU SAID IT’D WORK BY GAME FOUR OR SIX! I HAVE INTERNET ARGUMENTS TO WIN AND YOU’RE NOT HELPING! WHO ARE YOU REALLY WORKING FOR?! DON’T YOU KNOW THAT WE WANT TO BE RELEVANT?! YOU’LL ANSWER OR ELSE!”

“It happe . . .”

“NO EXCUSES! STANDARDS, DINO! ACCOUNTABILITY! IF I WERE YOU . . .”

The pummeling was deafening, bats and pipes against flesh and bone, the roaring sound of animals feeding and filling the void that plagued their existence.

On Sunday, Dino would be trotted out in front of a nondescript backdrop wearing a tattered “Real Men Wear Orange” shirt, holding the Post-Standard with the day’s date, his person delivered to the world via grainy video — a “press conference,” or at least the press conference that the shrouded Syracuse fans wanted to hear. “The Syracuse fans are treating me very well. I am here of my own volition. We will slaughter the Central Michigan infidels. I have already sent an oil drum filled with anthrax to Scott Shafer because he is a real jerk. Also, Syracuse fans are very handsome and pretty and deserve to have free pie at the Dome on Saturdays. And not just any pie — good pie, with that thatch pattern on the top like you always see on TV.”

* * * * * *

I understand feelings, or at least the basic concept of human feelings. What I don’t always understand is how people respond to their own feelings, or how they produce the kinds of feelings that accelerate them toward unleashing a feelings bomb that decimates the internet, talk radio, or any other human endeavor. The impetus for any of it is probably the externalization of some kind of internal expectations — reasonable or otherwise — and evoking those desires, but it’s still a form of lunacy — institutionalized lunacy, if we consider the normalization of these kinds of things — and that’s where the train exits the station for me and starts its ascent into the atmosphere powered by a new form of energy derived from sports rage and faction-creating rhetoric.

The good news, though, is that I think I’ve discovered a solution: Get off the internet; go be a real human that breathes air and physically moves through society. The last thing that anybody needs to do after watching a game is spend the next two, 12, 24 hours screaming about something that is completely outside of your sphere of control. Go outside, go pet a dog, or you can do what I did — went and ate a buttload of really good pizza and let all the disappointment of an upset wither and die on the vine before it had a chance to grow and fester and become A Problem That Only Internet Feelings Can Solve.

Is there any situation in which going off the deep end, shouting about “STANDARDS!” on the internet, is better than spending a few hours with your friends, feeling good about the state of your being, and eating Apizza Regionale while sipping some cockamamie watermelon cocktail? Honestly — was the immediate release about a loss to Middle Tennessee in the midst of an extensive building process better than corking the anger and enjoying your time as a participant on this planet? You're free to jump from the ledge without a parachute or very large trampoline at the bottom of the ravine, but there are probably better ways to get stuff done.

I DON’T DESERVE ANY OF THIS BECAUSE I’M A GOOD PERSON BUT I KEEP DOING IT TO MYSELF ANYWAY

If the Dome is serving it, I am willing to drink it. That’s the rule — if some dope in concessions management thinks that a can of God-knows-what is worth pouring into my belly, I am going to try it. It could be a can of poison with the words “It’s Poison, Idiot” scrawled on it, and I’ll still fork over the eight bucks and give it a whirl. This is how you discover Cutwater Spirits, cans of God-knows-what that may as well have “It’s Poison, Idiot” plastered all over the can.

The first foray into melting my insides took the form of Fugu Orange Vodka Soda, a kind of antifreeze that you drink instead of put in your car:

DRINKABILITY RATING: Why am I still alive?

REVIEW: I don’t know, it kind of tasted like flat Fanta was mixed with carbonated water from Onondaga Lake. I think there was vodka in there, but I could be mistaken as Cutwater apparently filtered the whole thing through dirty underpants.

SHOULD I DRINK THIS?: Only if you’re somebody’s enemy.

The Fugu Orange Vodka Soda, however, wasn’t even the worst of the two disasters that I drank. That award goes to Old Grove Gin & Tonic, a special delight that made it difficult to determine whether the smell or the taste was the worst part of making my body process this dreck:

DRINKABILITY RATING: Should be tested on prisoners.

REVIEW: “Old fermented cucumber water” was the taste-test champion. If a fancy spa gives this to you in lieu of actual cucumber water, report them to the Sanitation Department.

SHOULD I DRINK THIS?: Pairs well with lit gunpowder.

THIS TAILGATE GOES TO CORGI

My pale stems aside, Bilbo — a very famous corgi that wanders the Syracuse campus on occasion and is a very good dog — met more ladies this weekend than I have in the last two years. A corgi is the ultimate sidekick, stubby little legs and all. He is a hell of a pup and didn’t even steal any of our beers.

Riding in Bilbo’s wake was the main course for the weekend: Tacos, specifically of the chicken and chorizo variety (or, if you’re a goon like me, chicken and chorizo at the same time because taco rules are only guidelines and not dogma).

We pickled some onions and hatch peppers, and generally went full taco bar. It was good — a new tailgating frontier for us — and fulfilling; I don’t know why we hadn’t thought of this before. If you’re going to grill some sausages, why not get some chorizo instead and make your tailgate a fiesta grande? Plus, if you chow on the base level of the Dome Food Pyramid during the game — nachos grande, which is Spanish for “Big Ol’ Mess of Future Poop” — you’ve pretty much had a perfect day.

The decision to go with tacos, though, did lead to an interesting question: When is Taco Time for football? The answer is in the wind (or at 50 points, whichever howls first).

BINDLESTIFF

Games Attended: 2

Syracuse's Record in Games Attended: 1-1

Miles Driven: ~512

Miles Flown: ~508

Next Syracuse Game: Central Michigan

Next Syracuse Game I'm Attending: Central Michigan

Previous: Central Connecticut