This is a few days late but I feel the need to preserve these trips for posterity. With my buddies Raffi and Matt, I headed out to Wast Lafayette on Saturday to see Wisconsin play Purdue. Here’s what went down:
5:30 AM – Raffi, who naturally wakes up every day at this ungodly hour, comes and wakes up Matt and me. In the 60 seconds after waking up, I would probably rather commit suicide than seize the day.
6:00 - Dunkin. Donuts.
(Hour time shift)
9:00 - After a painless two-hour drive (Matt takes great pride in seeing how badly he can beat Google Maps projections), we find free parking about a mile away from the stadium.
Because it’s homecoming, there’s about a half-hour line to get in every bar in West Lafayette. Purdue’s big homecoming tradition, apparently, is treating the day like Halloween. Everybody is in costumes and has been at the bars since 7 AM.
We get in line at Jake’s, the first college bar I’ve ever been to that is located in the middle of a strip mall. It’s a pretty good bar, but has an AWFUL sound system. Conversation drowns out the music.
It’s not particularly clear that there will be a football game. Most people we see at the bars have no intention of making it to the game. “IU SUCKS” chants break out all the time – they REALLY hate IU – but we don’t get that much positive or negative attention as Badger fans.
10:00 - Three screwdrivers and three Jameson-based “pancake and syrup” shots – that, despite being half-whiskey, actually taste like they sound – add up to $16.25. Why does anybody ever leave college?
10:30 – Three double Jim Beam on the rocks? $14.25. Feels like stealing.
COOLEST PART OF JAKE’S: Three posters, side by side, with words on top of frogs: Bud. Weis. Er.
10:45 - Facetiously, I ask a guy dressed as a ketchup bottle if he is supposed to be the Wicked Witch of the West. Puzzled, he looks at me for about three seconds. “Ketchup, retard.”
11:00 - We head next door to Von’s Dough Shack. People keep coming in to use the restroom. They are ANGRY when they find out that it’s locked. They have to order something. Instead of buying a bag of chips or a soda for $1, most leave hastily. People don’t make rational decisions.
We order a “Doublewide” calzone stuffed with ground beef and mac and cheese:
11:15 – We start the mile walk to the stadium. We see a bunch of Badger fans hopping on a school bus, and figure that it’s a tailgate tour. We are pumped when they say we can hop on. It’s not a tailgate tour. It’s a public bus that gets passed by people walking as we are stuck in traffic. HIGHLIGHT: the old Purdue fan in front of me is emailing at a pace of about three letters per minute on his iPhone. “O….u….r… c…o…u…n…t…r…y… h…a…s… s…u…n…k… W…e… h…a…v…e… t…e…r…r…i…b…l…e… l…e…a…d…e…r…s… G…o…d… h…e…l…p… u…s…”
A few minutes later, we pass a statue of Neil Armstrong, a Purdue alum. “Have you guys ever heard of Neil Armstrong?” the slow typer asks. (I should note that he was incredibly nice to us.)
Noon - Into Ross-Ade Stadium for $20. (Allow me to be at least the third person to joke that this sounds like a failed Gatorade knockoff that tastes like battery acid.) We probably could have gotten in for $5. #ViewFromOurSeats:
Not really too much to say about the game. It was scary at first when Purdue got a long kickoff return and scored on a deep pass on the next play. After that, though, they couldn’t move the ball. We could.
Montee Ball shook off the cobwebs, returning to 2011 form. Joel “Rico” Stave looks like he is going to be very fun to root for in a year or two or three. This might be the best Badger defense since I entered Wisconsin as a freshman in 2005.
It rained a lot, but not in a cold, miserable way. It was more annoying than anything. We finally got a stress-free victory. Didn’t even mind being soaked the whole way home.
Successful business trip. Wisconsin is in the driver’s seat to win a depleted Leaders division. For at least a weekend, football was fun again.