Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Whirlwind season.

That’s what I’ve lovingly dubbed my life, from now until January.

Nutshell: If my head’s not spinning, I don’t feel like I’m doing enough.

(Minus Saturday nights when I inhale free time, exhale responsibility and occasionally land at the neighborhood karaoke dive…. or Sunday mornings when I sleep ‘til 10 - okay 11 - and lazily sip two cups on the porch, with some combination of yoga posing/Cowboys watching mixed in for good measure.)

Notable happenings:

I’ve become somewhat of a live mascot connoisseur.

First SEC Network assignment - Wal Mart parking lot pre-dawn, following an overalled stranger in a pickup truck through remote Ozark back roads to a hog farm where a snorting, charming 400-pounder called Tusk did tricks for grapes. Then his human dad served us BBQ… which was delicious until I thought about Charlotte’s Web.

I wanted to pet Mike at LSU, but he wanted to rip my face off. At least that’s what his trainer said. “Tiger bait” – that’s what they call first-time visitors. Wasn’t in the mood to be mauled, so we eyed each other through thick steel bars. (Sidenote: growing up, I wanted a tiiiiny baby tiger. And this seemed like a very real possibility in my 1995 brain after watching the movie “Indian in the Cupboard.”)

Fast forward past Vandy because Commodores aren’t particularly cute and Florida because wild gators are an actual liability….

Que, the Georgia bulldog in waiting, had his own hotel suite. We chilled. I buried my face in the neck of that stout little fur baby – hashtag dog person - and sneezed violently for the next three hours. Worth it.

Much as I want to insert my first Saban encounter here….. we caught him on a good day. Equal parts smirk and genteel. And that is how I knew Georgia was going to get their asses handed to them before a cleat had ever hit the field.

Minor milestone status: I celebrated five years with ESPN last month. They mailed me a Mickey Mouse pin.

On the phone setting up an interview last week, lady on the other end was like, “You have the coolest job.” YUP. I pretty much do. Running and gunning and herding metaphorical cats, rain or shine. (More former than latter as of late… drizzly Athens, soggy Knoxville.) But full disclosure -- being gone three-ish days a week has got me like HIGH FIVE FOR HOMEBODIES. Somebody put that on a t-shirt. Crosswords, crockpots and couch naps. Where it’s at, y’all. Spoiled rotten getting to flit about the Southeast then return home to the best city in all the land. Nothing makes that more apparent than hotel beds. Though room service did hook it up last Thursday -- popcorn and wine for Scandal.

Additional travel observations a third of the way through the footbawl calendar:

Airports/airplanes are where seemingly nice, mild-mannered people transform into monsters.

-- Nah, it’s cool business traveler. Spread those legs out. Keep brushing your cheap chinos against my knee. Personal space? OVER-clap-clap-RATED-clap-clap. How ‘bout a nibble of my pretzel while we’re at it.

-- Excuse me, sir. You’re in my seat. YES, MINE. Here’s my ticket… Yep, definitely MY seat. No, we don't need to call the flight attendant. No, I don’t want to trade. Yes, I'm sure. Really sure. 16A pardna, get to steppin'.

I’ve watched a grown man bull rush two rows AND an elderly passenger upon arrival, baffled as to WHAT COULD BE THAT URGENT. I did not suppress laughter when he proceeded to face-plant over his fancy boots in the jet bridge.

Then the handsy couple sucking face at baggage claim... haven’t seen that much tongue since “A Christmas Story.”

And though generally a semi-patient person, my rage knoweth no bounds when made to stand in an empty security line and watch a woman leisurely slurp the remains of her V8 juice before both being permitted to pass through the X-ray machine. Barely made my flight, but sure am glad you got your daily serving of veggies, ma'am.

Still, hands-down-most-thrilling occurrence thus far... acquiring TSA pre-check status. Yessah. Wore a light jacket, double-laced my tennis shoes, and stuffed loads of liquid toiletries into my carry-on… BECAUSE I COULD.

It’s the little things in life.

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