Monday, January 30, 2012

An Encounter With Angry Mutton

So it's Saturday afternoon, and I'm in Chapel Hill with my Delicate Bellicose Flower, i.e. my wife Melinda, for brunch. We are having brunch in Chapel Hill (home of the UNC Tar Heels, for those of you who are unable to hear the frequencies Dick Vitale broadcasts at) because we have tried and failed to have brunch in Durham multiple times, and because the restaurant at local landmark foodie haven A Southern Season does good brunch, and there's a big store to wander around in while we wait for our table.
Melinda (that's the Delicate Bellicose Flower, for those of you keeping track) starts looking at the tea. I wander off to try to find the restrooms, and instead I find Rameses, over by the deli meats.
Rameses, as the initiated know, is the mascot of the UNC-Chapel Hill Tar Heels. He is, in this incarnation, an anthropomorphic ram, as having real livestock on the court during a basketball game is generally not a good thing, and undergraduates in ram costumes tend to be better about relieving themselves than farm animals. Why a team named the Tar Heels uses an anthropomorphic sheep as a mascot is a story for another time; in the interim, readers are invited to ask themselves if they really want to see a sophomore botany major from Mebane or Elizabeth City dressed up like a giant foot with some gunk on it, doing pushups on the court at halftime.
In any case, there Rameses was, cavorting in the aisles, doing photo ops with small children and Heels fans of all ages, and more importantly, impeding my forward progress. Behind me, a guy nodded and smiled approvingly and said, as a statement of presumed solidarity, "Go Heels".
In retrospect, I probably should not have done what I did next. I channeled the fact that my aforementioned wife has a PhD from NC State, and said, "Go Pack."  The gentleman was horrified. And I got Rameses' attention.
He took a few steps toward me. His mascoty eyes, unblinking, locked in on mine. "Actually," I said, "I'm a Boston College fan." Which, for the record, is true. BC School of Arts and Sciences, MA in Literature with Distinction, 1994. You can look it up; I'm not sure they ever sent me the piece of paper but they do occasionally send me the alumni magazine and offers to buy Christmas tree ornaments shaped like the football stadium.
Well, that was enough for Rameses. He dropped into a fighter's crouch, cocked his head belligerently and started shadowboxing in my direction. I looked at the large anthropomorphic ram making Rocky shapes, thought about the basketball season so far (you don't mention football in Chapel Hill these days. It's still kind of a sore spot, apparently) and said, "C'mon, man. Boston College."
That would be 7-14 Boston College, with losses to 9-12 Holy Cross, 4-18 Rhode Island, 11-12 Boston U, and the second-worst Wake Forest team of recent memory. (Jeff Bzdelik's squads have bzeen bzad). I mean, look. I'm an alum. I'm a fan. But we're a long way from the Al Skinner glory years here, people. A looooong way.
Rameses stopped. He thought about it. Quite possibly, inside his suit he was checking the ACC standings. And then he dropped his hands and patted my head, in woolly pity, and moved on.
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