Monday, November 9, 2015

Clemsoning (And Loving It)

For those of you who may not be familiar with the roller coaster of emotions that comes with being a Clemson fan, let me only begin to describe to you the spectrum of euphoria, heartbreak, triumph, and tragedy that one goes through on a weekly basis. Like many college football fans, there have been numerous times so horrific that the only mantra we can muster is, "next year." I have been known to describe Clemson football as a prince charming type, who exists solely to catch your eye, make your little heart go pitter patter, show you just enough attention to get you hooked, and then only call or come around when you are about to give up on him and move on with your life. Clemson will give you just enough to ensure that you keep coming back for more.

The dreaded term "clemsoning" came about after a particularly disastrous Orange Bowl game in 2012, which resulted in Clemson losing to West Virginia 70-33. Over the last several years, clemsoning had come to mean screwing up in a monumental way, embarrassing oneself in a truly spectacular and public fashion. I supposed you could say Napoleon clemsoned at Waterloo, for example. Clemsoning: the stuff that makes grown men cry. Until this year. As of today, my Tigers are 9-0 and ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit himself has declared clemsoning a new term to mean kicking butt and taking names. We are redeemed. We are celebrating. We are--dare I say it--optimistic?

This weekend was the last home game we will be able to attend, and it was a big one. Clemson needed to beat our nemesis Florida State in order to secure a spot in the ACC Championship game, and also,mercifully, to bury the idea of clemsoning. It was an interesting day, to say the least. Campus was filled with nervous energy and you can could feel the excitement all around. A week of heavy rain filled the area with five inches of rain in just five days and made tailgating an adventure sport not for the faint of heart. We wound up in a scenic spot down by the Seneca River on campus, conveniently situated on a 45-degree angle.

We went minimalist because of the weather conditions, but this looks picturesque, right?

Until you consider the *slight* incline we were on. Hold on to your cups!

Thankfully, we had a few minutes of drizzle but the rain never showed up. I'll tell you who did show up on Saturday, though: my long lost friend, Jodi. Jodi and I lived next door to each other in the dorm my freshman year. Through the miracle of Facebook, we reconnected years ago, and had kept in touch but still had not seen each other in person since fall 1996. Over the summer, reading my blog about Duke's mayonnaise, Jodi decided she was more than a little homesick for the great state of South Carolina and so she bought tickets, loaded up her family, and drove down from Chicago. 

Reunited with this girl after 19 years...and we picked right up where we left off (which means with plenty of sarcasm).
Never underestimate the power of mayonnaise.

At this point, it had already been a great day in the life of a Clemson Tiger--decent weather, time on campus, seeing old friends. But it was game day. There was people watching to be had as well. Believe me when I say everyone really dressed for the occasion. Note to self: add "adult tiger onesie" to Christmas list.

First, there was this guy, who was pretty much mobbed with picture requests.
I thought he was a true original, until....

Lo and behold, I saw a pair of Tiger onesies entering the stadium.

Last but not least, I don't want to forget these diehards who were hanging out at the Esso Club after the game,
as comfortable as could be.

The game kicked off at 3:30. There were 83,099 fans packed into Clemson Memorial Stadium, also known as Death Valley. And this game was a nail biter. It was loud and frenzied...and fantastic. My Tigers were dressed head-to-toe in orange, and they had something to prove.

Our seats were above all this action, but having the fans spell out #clemsonfamily was fantastic.

Spoiler alert: the Tigers beat the Seminoles 23-13, which means they are coming to Charlotte for the ACC Championship game in December. Game days are always fun, but this one was special. 

Singing the alma mater after getting the win.

Clemson was voted the number one team in the nation on Sunday according to the Associated Press poll: the first time that has happened since 1982. I guess you could say we really are clemsoning right now--and loving every minute of it.

See you in Charlotte, Tigers! 

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