Sunday, October 26, 2008

An Engagement Story

In case anyone out there has not realized it, I LOVE college football. All of it. But I love the University of Florida Gator football team the best in all the land! Why? you may ask. Because, I will answer. I did not attend the University of Florida. There were many reasons for that, too many to name, but I have been a Gator fan as far back as I can remember. And I did march on Florida Field in a band competition in 1983 (I was a junior in H.S.).

So, I had always loved the Gators, from afar. While I have lived only four short hours from Gainesville for over 20 years, I had never attended a game there. Never. Attended. A. College. Football. Game. Anywhere. I have always watched it on TV, in the air conditioning, with the ability to drink alcoholic beverages at my fingertips.

DSD and I had been talking about getting married, and he surprised me with tickets to the Kentucky @ UF game in September 2006. We drove to Gainesville on Friday, checked into our motel (which has sense been closed, 'nuff said) and scoped out the UF campus, for parking, sports bars, etc. and hung out in our room Friday night.

Saturday dawned clear and HOT! We had breakfast and got ready for the game (7:45 EDT on ESPN) and drove to the campus in the early afternoon to get a decent parking place. We parked on Museum Rd and started the trek up Fraternity Dr. (DSD tells this part better than I). Somewhere about halfway up this street that had no sidewalks, so we are walking in the street, the wrong way, right beside the curb, I stepped (or misstepped) onto what can only be described as a small indention in the pavement, twisted my right ankle and went down hard on my left shin onto the curb. According to him (he was walking in front of me) he heard, "Dammit," and turned around to see me sprawled in the grass. He came back to check on me, heard, "ankle," and almost had a heart attack. He had the ring in his pocket, you see, and was convinced I had just broken my ankle and we were going to spend the rest of the evening in the ER. Does he propose in the ER or just wait until we can get tickets to another game? All his planning down the toilet! (I heard his thoughts later, of course, and all of this probably went through his mind in the span of about 3 seconds.)

I was fine. I was glad no one had seen this unfortunate, ungraceful business and I had a little scrape on my left shin, but I was fine. We went on up to the stadium, did a little shopping, visited with various tailgators, and found a sports bar with the afternoon games on. It was incredibly hot, so I HAD NOTHING ALCOHOLIC TO DRINK! I drank water and diet soda and DSD had a couple of beers. We stayed there for a couple of hours before deciding to find someplace to eat a quick dinner. A couple of subs, some more shopping and it was time to make our way to our gate and find our seats.

"The Swamp," of course, is amazing. Loud and obnoxious and, an absolutely wonderful place to watch a college football game. Florida struggled some against a fairly decent Kentucky team. The outcome was still iffy at halftime, but the Gators managed to pull out a 25-19 win.

So, the game was over and everyone was filing out of the stadium, but DSD and I absolutely agree that there is never a reason to rush for the car just to sit in traffic. We are always the last to leave a movie or the 4th of July fireworks. So the fact that he wanted to wait didn't raise any red flags to me. I was enjoying the atmosphere, thrilled my Gators had won, sad that the game was over.

And, he dropped to one knee, pulled out the ring, and asked me to marry him! I think we tickled the Alachua County police officer who watched the entire thing while guarding the grass. I, of course, said "yes" and he gave me the ring and we played a little smoochy face. And then I admired the ring and we played a little more smoochy face before starting off toward the truck.

There were still plenty of people wandering around campus and many, many vehicles sitting in traffic trying to get off campus, so we were not alone at this point. We walked around Stadium Drive and started back down Fraternity. Fraternity had bumper to bumper traffic, so we were walking single file, in the exact same spot I had fallen earlier: in the road, but off to the side, this time we were walking with traffic. At one point I said, "Didn't I fall around here earlier?" DSD said, "Yes, right here," and made a big showing of stepping over the cracked indention thing (I should have taken a picture of it since a description is beyond me) and so I made a big show of stepping over it also.

A couple of steps later, however, I almost had a heart attack as a scooter roared in beween me and the traffic that was sitting still. I turned to my right to see if there were more scooters to come and, yep, you guessed, ended up sprawled on the grass AGAIN. DSD says all he heard was, "God DAMMIT" and turned find me struggling to sit up. I can only imagine the laughs that everyone in traffic recieved, because this time this unfortunate, ungraceful business was viewed by MANY!

DSD helped me up, listened to my explanation of what happened and then threatened me if I didn't walk on the grass. I limped the last block or so to the truck, now with scrapes on both shins, my right knee and my right arm from wrist to elbow!

We got into the truck and rolled down the windows to try to look pleadingly at oncoming traffic to let us out. I attempted to rest my right arm on the window, but, of course, that was difficult with the scrape on it. So I shifted it slightly back for comfort, but it hit the door lock, which wasn't so comfortable. I just lifted my arm and locked the door with my elbow, catching the skin of my arm, just behind the elbow, causing an instant, and painful, blood blister!

We finally reached the hotel. Our room had not been cleaned, so we needed new towels and, of course, ice. I offered to get the ice while he got new towels, but he told me to "sit down, relax and don't move," fearing for my life, I think, if I attempted to walk anywhere.

I am really not a total klutz. For the most part I can walk AND chew gum at the same time. This just makes the entire story more amusing. So, of course, the joke is now that I must be protected anytime I am near a sporting event. We managed tickets to the Florida/Florida State game later that same year in Tallahassee. DSD's bff offered his daughters Barbie roller blading pads to protect my elbows and knees. Many offered their canes, and I think one guy even offered his late wife's wheelchair!

The best part? We are now living happlily ever after!

Me, before the game, with only a scrape on my left (hidden shin).

Did you think I would leave you without a picture of the team? Keep in mind this is the same team who won the 2006 National Championship! Go Gators!


Pete Bogs said...


I have only been to The Swamp once - with a Gainesville girlfriend about seven years ago... my young nephews, FSU fans, gave me a dirty look when I said I was going up there... they'll understand, I thought to myself, when they start liking girls!

lovely story, and nice pic of you, with your hair longer than I've ever seen it...

PS: feel free to watch college football in a bar - just not an Irish one! ;-)

LeftLeaningLady said...

Actually my hair was much longer than this in my wedding pictures, but it was up.

And I don't watch a lot of football in bars, because I am CHEAP. And since I don't drink beer, it gets expensive. We will go for an occasional big game, but, also, I get LOUD and it makes DSD nuts.

Mariecel said...

Awwwww.... =)

Shel said...

What a great story. Thanks for sharing!