Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Steamboat Springs Don't expect to find anything healthy to eat at a college football game. No one is selling veggie burgers, smoothies or fruit salads. You can, however, expect to find foot-long hot dogs, brats and burgers glistening with grease.
Here's the good news: There is no line for the ladies bathroom. Repeat: No line. I had to pinch myself just to make sure I wasn't dreaming.
I know, I know. Just a few short weeks ago I made some foolish anti-football remarks. But that was before I knew about the bathroom situation. Had anyone told me I would not have to wait in line, I may have rushed out to buy season tickets for the Broncos.
Here's how the football turnaround happened:
While visiting my 88-year-old mother, she surprised me with a ticket to the Penn State-Northwestern football game. She lives across the street from the stadium in Evanston, Ill., and she and my brother have season tickets. Armed with her walking stick to ward off any stampeding vegetarians, we joined the parade of purple people walking to the game. I dressed warmer than I would for a day of skiing in a down jacket topped with a purple fleece poncho that reached my knees.
Settling into our seats, I discovered the nice football people had left us purple rain ponchos in case hypothermia threatened. I busied myself unwrapping my freebie and forgot to look down on the field.
"What's happening? Why is everyone so far apart?" I asked my brother.
"It's the kickoff."
"Got it," I replied, determined to understand a thing or two about the game before it was over.
"Goooo Cats," a woman three rows back screeched in a nails-on-the-blackboard type of voice that could mean only one thing: She had tipped back one too many beers at the tailgate party prior to the game.
Before I could wrap my head around the fact that I would have to spend the next three hours listening to the "Tailgate Tippler," something alarming caught my eye.
"Um, someone should tell the coach he has toilet paper hanging out of his pants."
"That's the playbook," my brother answered without taking his eyes off the game.
My mother coached me on some key football terminology such as downs and distance. She also provided the back story on the teams. Penn State is ranked 11th, while poor ol' NU isn't even good enough to be on the list. Safe to say, NU was the underdog. Nevertheless, NU scored the first two touchdowns, and the fans went wild. Horns blew, silver confetti was thrown in the air and two guys dressed like hot dogs used an oversized slingshot to catapult T-shirts into the stands.
"Go Caaaaats!" squawked the Tippler.
A cool breeze blew through the stadium, and I huddled closer to my family. Hot chocolate was for sale in a commemorative mug for $6.75, but I decided to stamp my feet instead.
"C'mon NU," brayed the Tippler.
I hoped the Tippler would develop laryngitis before the end of the game or that a T-shirt rocketed into the stands would knock her unconscious. Despite her behavior, I had to admit I was enjoying myself. The eye candy on the field warmed me up, the beat of the band energized me, and then there was the all-important no waiting in line bathroom thing.
Sadly, in the fourth quarter, Penn State scored three touchdowns, and fickle fans around us began to leave.
Not the Tippler.
She sounded like a strangled foghorn as she croaked, "C'mon NU, get your head into the game."
We stayed until the end - after all, there was a fireworks show - and jumped up and down to stay warm. On the way home, I decided football wasn't so bad, but the next time I'm bringing a battery-operated heater and earplugs.