Today, USC trounced Penn State in the 2009 Rose Bowl. The last time the two schools met in a bowl game, I was there as a yell leader for USC. Newly-crowned Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen and the Trojans battled the Nittany Lions in the 1982 Fiesta Bowl, the first ever on New Year’s Day.
The night before the game, the yell leaders appeared at a New Year’s Eve pep rally slash cocktail party. The location was an outdoor patio at our hotel.
After rallying the faithful with a few So Cal spell-outs, the yell leaders split into cliques to booze it up with the alumni. This meant I was pretty much on my own. At some point, I grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels from the bar to ring in 1982.
Two people made it a New Year’s Eve I’ll never forget.
The first person was an older woman who came on to me, although I was barely aware of it at the time, being as socially retarded as I was. When she approached me and asked if she knew me from somewhere, I spent forever trying to jog her memory.
“It’s entirely possible the curly blond white boy wanted me as much as I wanted him.”
She did get me into bed that night. Thank goodness, too. I’m not sure my drunk naive self would have made it to my room otherwise. We kept our clothes on and talked while lounging on my bed. Perhaps she was waiting for me to make my move, but my roommate for the road trip stumbled in loud and drunk and that was her cue to exit …
The second person was a male student who had traveled to Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl. He was a tall white boy with curly blond hair. I’d seen him on campus and knew he was a member of a popular fraternity. He approached me at the party. It’s safe to say we had both been drinking.
He introduced himself, then told me I was a great yell leader. And kept telling me. He went on and on about how much he enjoyed watching me and couldn’t take his eyes off me at the games. I was shocked and grateful, and in sheer disbelief that such a gorgeous white god would notice me, let alone like what he sees on the field.
He gave me a lot of compliments. I said a lot of thank you’s. Eventually, we hugged goodbye. Several times. I can still remember my head resting on his shoulders, hoping for so much more as I gazed toward the stars.
I’m not sure when I realized: it’s entirely possible the curly blond white boy wanted me as much as I wanted him, and like the older woman, he was coming on to me. The realization certainly didn’t come on New Year’s Eve.
I wasn’t capable of thinking that way at the time. I had yet to learn that others were capable of falling in love with me. That truth would not shine its light on me for years to come, decades even. Have I still embraced that truth?
New Year’s Day, 2009 is almost over. I wonder if that curly blond boy still dreams of me? I wonder what he’d think, knowing I still dream of him?