What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cheering the home team on

It was the last home game of the season and I had managed to attend all but one of the team’s previous twelve home stands. After three conference championship seasons, our record through the year was abysmal – we had lost more games than we had won and were in fifth place in our conference – but my personal confidence in the ability of the team was undaunted.

The sport was college hoops, the school was a small private one, the venue was a loud stadium in NorCal and the fan (that’s me) was avid.

Through all the games thus far, I had cheered my team on by printing a copy of the opposing teams roster and shouting nasty insults at players (using their first names) as they attempted free throws. My friend, who, I gather, was somewhat amused by this practice had coaxed me into joining the “Orange Army,” a collection of students who ruin their singing voices by screaming very un-collegiate chants during the game.

But “coax” isn’t the right word. All my friend had to do was suggest that the Orange Army had an opening and I was ready and willing to step into the role.

The school’s colors are orange and black and every member of the army is required to sport these hues and no other. Some members wear orange helmets, others have fake (and goofy looking) orange afros; others just wear an orange shirt. Everyone contributes somehow and unless you do something radical, the existing members usually suspect newcomers of being spies for the visiting team.

The afternoon of the game, I entered Sally’s Beauty store in search of orange hair dye. As I opened the door to the well recommended cosmetics establishment (an aesthetic young woman at my local drug store said that’s where the gooiest hair coloring was sold), I was attacked by an overpowering smell of colognes and perfumes normally reserved for old people homes. I held my breath to avoid an attack of the hives and went to the back of the store to make my selection.

While I was waiting in line to check out -- and running out of breath -- I surveyed my surroundings and noted that I was the only guy in the whole store. Women were everywhere, trying on makeup, looking at hair color highlights, selecting a scent and gossiping, but there wasn’t a guy to be seen. I felt very uncomfortable; like the man in the Visa card ad who wants to pay with cash.

Just as I was leaving Sally’s, a male who can only be described as well coiffed and disturbingly San Franciscan entered the store and, with a very limp wrist, shouted a greeting to the store clerk. I ran away in record time.

I applied the hair dye liberally, lending my normally unremarkable mane neon characteristics and generally destroying my natural handsomeness. Then I slipped into an orange shirt, set aside for the occasion and appended a small tiger tail, a gift from my friend Natalie, to my rear belt loop. Thus equipped and, no doubt, looking very fanatic, I entered the stadium and marched to the Orange Army Hole.

Once there, I smelled the acrylic scent of facial paint. At the back of the hole one of the fans had filled a plastic cup with orange paint and was daubing the stuff liberally against any who requested it.

I requested it. And soon my entire upper body was a mass of orange color. One friend told me it looked as if my body was a giant Popsicle, dipped in sugary orange goo. Still another said I looked terribly sunburned.

The greatest part about cheering at a sporting event is the fans from the visiting school. Our opponents had brought a large contingent of very well organized students who spent the whole game singing and chanting things that were equally, if not more, incendiary than our own incantations.

When we said “offense” they said “defense.” When we praised a call, they shouted epithets at the referee. When we booed they applauded.

After forty minutes of play, when the throats of all parties were sufficiently leathered, the buzzer sounded and we all exited the stadium.

Several of us from the Orange Army tried to gloat over the victory as we passed the fans of the visitors on the way out (it was, afterall, one of few chances for such boasting), but our voices were so destroyed we could barely croak. We made squalid hand gestures, though, and our gesticulations made up for our lack of volume.

Next game, I think I may color my hair once again and join the cheering fans on the Hole. Only, I think I’ll steer clear of the face paint; that stuff is murder to remove.


Lady A said...

Did you try dish soap?

--Evgenia-- said...

Got any pictures?