So let’s cut to the chase. The singular lesson learned from this year’s Army-Navy game is that this Parade of Lasts simply isn’t going to follow the script and I should realize that isn’t a bad thing.
After watching Navy lose The Game each of my Mid’s first three years, I hoped his class would get a win so as not to get shut out (as so many West Point classes had been during that 16-game winning streak). I also knew from my son’s time on the Sprint Football team just how important it is to get at least one star before hanging up the cleats.
In the week leading up to the game, I worked out the logistics so we could our dog Falcon squared away with Mid Gram, who would be having friends over to watch the game. I wanted to get down to Lincoln Financial Field early enough to do some tailgating and catch up with some USNA friends.
I spent the rest of the week on two activities – charting the weather and creating Beat Army memes.
My two-plus decades in Philadelphia have taught me that getting anything close to an accurate weather forecast less than 48 hours in advance was unlikely, so I monitored five different sources and waited until late in the week to check in with the one I trust most. In the end, I watched forecasts shift from snow to clear to rain to showers to freezing drizzle. And the end result = miserable.
The memes? Different story. My mid often teases me that I create memes that old folks find funny. Well, I guess I’m playing to my demographic. And as I’ve told him many times, I’m at the age where the only person I’m really trying to entertain is myself and I did that, so I’ll mark it as a success.
I posted more than 30 and, believe it or not, there were about 10 more I just never got around to posting. Yeah, sure it’s obsessive, but a guy needs a hobby, right? Well, maybe I really just need some professional help!
Well, as has been SOP recently, the script for the weekend got tossed and we had to improvise. Mid Gram took a (not-too-serious) tumble and we had to adjust. We got our Mid (who came home Friday evening) down to the game with a friend and began a complicated game of musical cars that, eventually, landed both Mid Gram and Falcon at Mid Gram’s house with a stocked fridge for the game.
We finally made it down to the field in plenty of time for the game, sailing through security in about one-tenth of the time it took last year, but without enough time to really enjoy the tailgating scene, which was a disappointment. And despite my constant monitoring of the weather, we were a little light on layers and got a wee-bit chilly.
In the end, though, it didn’t matter. Our Mid actually joined us for a quarter, which was an incredibly pleasant surprise.
We were treated to an epic performance by Malcolm Perry which led to Navy singing second. Just for a moment, think about just how storied this rivalry is and how many of college football’s greatest players have graced its stage. Yet Perry smashed the rushing record even though Army knew he was going to run the ball most of the time. Staggering.
We had a great time and even enjoyed some banter with some West Point fans. We loved the “double flyover” by the helicopters – of particular interest to Mid Sib, who dreams of flying them after attending one of our military academies) and Air Force One “buzzing the stadium” (or so it seemed).
Our Mid connected with a USNA alum on the subway and it was fun to play local as some folks asked for help with directions and suggestions, and how to navigate the regional rail system.
It’s funny how gears shift for these Mids. By the time we got home, our Mid was already fretting about a Thermo Dynamics final scheduled for Monday morning. He decided to leave at Oh Dark Thirty Sunday morning so he could get back to The Yard and spend the entire day jamming on his studies. My perfectly planning evening out after the game became pizza around the kitchen table. Maybe that was perfect in its own way.
I’m continuing to try to take it all in. This will be his last Christmas with us before graduation, then it will be the last All Academies Ball a few days later. Then he will head back to … I can’t believe I am going to type this … begin his final semester at the United States Naval Academy. Final. Semester.
Never has a parade moved so fast.