WE INTERRUPT THIS MARRIAGE TO BRING YOU THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON
Next Thursday morning, I am leaving my wife. After 35 years of marriage, we are going to be separated. It won’t be the first time in our marriage that we’ve had a separation. In fact, for the past 35 years, we’ve been separated every year from Labor Day to New Year’s Day.
I’m not moving out of the house, although if the truth be known, Claudia probably wishes I would for the next few months.
My bride and I will still be living under the same roof, but I’ll be spending several weekends in Knoxville, and whenever I’m at home, I’m likely to be sitting in my lounge chair in my den.
If all goes as planned, I’ll be leaving the house in early December for a trip to Atlanta and then spending either New Year’s Eve in New Orleans or, if things go well, back in Atlanta followed by a weekend in Tampa.
You see once again this year Claudia and I are interrupting our marriage for the college football season.
I’m a college football fanatic in general, and a Tennessee Vol football fanatic in particular. Claudia knew this when she married me. We should have put it in our wedding vows. “In sickness or in health, for richer or poorer, for winning seasons and losing seasons, and forsaking all other SEC teams, particularly Alabama and Florida!”
My poor wife has tolerated my addiction to football ever since Ronald Reagan was in his first term as President. During our annual autumnal separation, she prefers the weekends when I actually get out of the house and head to Knoxville. On the weekends that the Vols are on the road and I am at home, poor Claudia has to hear me screaming at my TV screen in my den.
When my daughter Margaret Grace was just a pre-schooler, she asked me a question I was unable to answer. She was sitting with me in the family den on the third Saturday afternoon in October while I watched my Vols in their annual loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide. I was miserable. My beautiful princess climbed up on my lap, threw her arms around my neck, and asked, “Daddy, why do you watch Tennessee football? It makes you so unhappy!”
I had no answer then, and I have no answer now.
And so next Thursday morning, I will kiss my wife goodbye and head out I-40 East to Knoxville. There I will meet my Vol buddies and take my place in Neyland Stadium Section QQ, Row 6.
I will miss Claudia over the next few months, but I doubt she will miss me. She will particularly not miss me if the Vols lose to Florida again this year, and I know she will not miss me on the third Saturday in October.
I predict we will be reunited next January. We may even renew our wedding vows … either at half time at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans or at the National Championship game in Tampa!