Thursday, May 19, 2011
Old Dog. New Tricks.
As a proud University of Texas graduate, I had a dream of my offspring following the same
path of higher education, walking the same halls of the 40 acres-plus teaching facilities, cheering on the Longhorns from the student section of the football stadium, the baseball field or the basketball arena, just like the old man. With four children, what are the chances that at least one of them would pick up my passion and carry the torch of my alma mater?
The first child out the door, Anne, landed at TCU. The first-born son and second child out the door, Michael, landed at Texas A&M, and he enrolled in the Corps of Cadets. How deep can the dagger go, I wondered? I found TCU to be acceptable. However, the Aggie experience was a whole different story.
I willingly wore purple on visits to the Ft. Worth campus, but during my visits to A&M, I don neutral white or any other color besides maroon. In gentlemanly fashion, and as a demonstration of support to my son, I even avoid wearing burnt orange. What’s a father to do when his house is divided?
When the going gets tough on freshman cadets — to the point of making them want to quit — a father encourages them to hang in there, be tough. This is not forever, I tell my cadet son. Just endure, I say. I wonder who has to endure the most, especially on Thanksgiving Day when my alma mater goes down in flames at its attempt to play football against the Texas A&M Aggies. My oldest son cheers, and I change the subject.
Now, at the conclusion of the first year for my little Aggie cadet, Michael proudly demonstrates his achievement in his final review march around Kyle Field. The achievement for Ryan Crawford, Michael’s best friend since first grade and fellow freshman cadet in another corps unit, is receiving the right as Mascot Corporal. The distinction for the friend — and someone who we consider as part of the family — is that he now is the caretaker for Reveille, the Texas A&M mascot. The responsibility is coveted by many, and is a 24/7 job. This means, when Ryan comes to our house to hang out, so does the mascot of the nemesis.
Where does one draw the line, I wonder anew? How can this be happening to me, when my beloved college campus sits just a mile down the road from my home? As I offer my congrats to the new Mascot Corporal, I followup with a question, “Does that mean the dog comes into our home with you?” The heads of loyal Aggie fans surrounding me turn in my direction with looks of disdain. I used the “D” word in reference to the “lady.” This is something I never learned while attending The University. Dogs were dogs, and Bevo the Longhorn was the mascot.
Now, out of support as a father and father-like friend, I must learn a new trick of dog hospitality, shedding hair and all. The Texas A&M mascot Reveille crossed the threshold of my home, and she fears not.
Take me home, Jesus. Take me now, for surely these are the end times.