Why does every football Friday night make me so nervous? Between the scandal and superstition-outing, the massive crowds trying to sway my Blount County team loyalty, and the hulking football players who I know are going to come crashing over the sidelines and squish me like a bug at any second, I show up at every game with elevated blood pressure and sweaty palms.
Tonight, I’m anxious with anticipation for another reason that has nothing to do with my life hanging in the balance or hurting feelings with my high school allegiance.
I am leaving Blount County to go to a game. Alone. Into uncharted waters. Finding my way in unknown territory, otherwise know as South-Doyle High.
Now I know how Lewis and Clark must have felt. At least they had Sacagawea!
What is this “South-Doyle?” Is it a big school? Good football team? Do they drive on the other side of the road?
I need this information if I am to survive the evening!
Don’t worry, though. I have a plan.
As a big blabbermouth and a nosy person, you wouldn’t think I have trouble getting to know folks. Quiet people, in fact, make me nervous. But overcoming that fear of silence will not come into play on this night! Allow me to share with you a little secret in where to find the hot news of the moment.
We all know there are many tried and true ways of finding out what’s what. However, there is only one sure-fire way a God-fearing, red-blooded American gal can get the skinny.
She heads to the ladies room.
This is no foot-tapping, lewd or bawdy pastime of mine either. This is a fact. When you want to know, you go to the bathroom. Doesn’t matter what you need to find out: who’s dating whom; where the best locale will be for fall break; what the new black is. Someone waiting in line will know.
With that in mind, I make my way (gulp!) out of Blount County and down John Sevier Highway to the Maryville-South-Doyle game to deconstruct the enigma that is South-Doyle High School.
The first girls I befriend in the bathroom were the lovely ladies from the Maryville cheerleading team. They immediately chasten me because I made the mistake of dropping two red and blue Mardi Gras strands around my neck as I arrived since they were thrust at me upon entry. No matter; they subtract the blue and leave me with my red beads.
They eagerly tell what they know about South-Doyle. The most exciting tidbit was the mascot is an American Indian. They even, by-gosh-by-golly, have a real painted pony out on the field with a Cherokee riding him around! That right there was enough to get me out of the bathroom for a look-see, but I know I must persevere.
Next is self-proclaimed “crazy mom fan” Kim Wender, who says they always support the team, then laughs to me that miracles do indeed happen. South-Doyle students Dana Omari and Tessa Ballards echo this sentiment as they trickle in, saying they cheer for the team no matter the outcome of the game. After that is South-Doyle student Kelley Hickle, who giggles to me that even though they may loose some games, the student body has a great spirit and their fans and players always display good sportsmanship at all times.
Following these women is Maryville supporter Sharon Watson, who picks up on this theme at once and compliments the South-Doyle fans for their sincerity in welcoming the Rebels to their field. Tailing her is Maryville fan Jessica Richards, who is shocked by the Cherokee win against Central last week and is eager to see the game get under way.
A few minutes before kickoff, two Cherokee cheerleaders speak to me – at length – about the excellent academic and extracurricular activities available to them at South-Doyle. They love the dual campus, the shorter/more frequent class schedules, their spirit squad and the fact that most students engage in positive personal development programs aside from studies.
They also confess they do look smashing in navy blue and red (they do).
Well, I am impressed. Not only did a 45-minute bathroom break get me the scoop on last week’s games, the specs on South-Doyle, the mood on the field and the attitudes of both schools going into tonight’s performance, I also met a former traveling companion of my grandmother, got a good recipe for caramel corn and heard an exotic story of the unthinkable (someone actually re-wore a bridesmaid’s dress!)
Now you know why we go to the bathroom in packs. We know where the action is.