thank god for the twelfth man

September 19, 2010

because had it not been for the generally badass student section, i.e. east decks of kyle field, the aggies would've lost yesterday.

to florida international university.

how pathetic would that have been?

the ags didn't score a single touchdown until the fourth quarter. more than forty-five minutes of play, and all they could do was kick a couple of field goals. oh, and throw a crapload of interceptions. i've never seen so many in one game. four interceptions in a row. i didn't think that was possible, but there it is.

but what sucked more than that was the fat, bald, bearded redneck in section one hundred forty-six, row thirty-seven, seat one telling me, who was seated two rows up and three seats to the right, to get off the wood because i was so tall that he couldn't see. that i wasn't supposed to be on the wood anyway.

the wood is the bleacher. the idea of the twelfth man is that you stand on the wood for the duration of the game, except when a player is injured, during halftime or when the war hymn is being sung, to show that you're willing and ready to fill in should the team need you. 

the tradition of the twelfth man began january second of ninteen-twenty-two. e. king gill, who had played football before but was only playing basketball at the time, was pulled from the stands and asked to suit up. he didn't play. but he stood there, waiting should they've needed him. he was the only man left standing on the sidelines for the aggies at the conclusion of the game.

back to the redneck. it wasn't halftime, we weren't singing, and, at the time, no one was injured. but i, who has been to nearly every home game for the past two seasons, usually with a currently enrolled student of texas a&m university, i don't understand how the twelfth man works.

i told the man why i preferred standing, and that i was in the right. he insisted that i wasn't. i stood on the wood for a bit longer. and then i, being the regrettably easily intimidated woman i can be, got off the wood. and then, then i sat down.

you don't sit in kyle field while the game's on. ever. and yet, i was so frustrated, so pissed off, so smart-assed that i thought, you can't see? here. let me make you all kinds of happy, jackass.

only i was miserable.

eventually, i got up and walked out. i was so angry with myself, with him, and was missing my brother horribly right then (my brother who would've told him to shove it, i'm sure), that i ended up laying down on the sidewalk just outside the stadium staring up at the sky watching the setting sun paint the clouds different colors and attempting to calm myself down. i laid there for quite a while. most people ignored me. every once in a while someone would stop and ask if i was alright -- an older aggie fan, a security worker, a cop, a paramedic. another cop. i was almost calm again. would've gone back inside in a second or two. but that second cop came up and told me that i shouldn't be lying on the sidewalk. that i was acting like a child.

so what if i was? why the hell should that matter to him?

this, of course, only pissed me off again.

i got up, made my way behind the megatron, or whatever that giant television in the south end zone is called, was almost to the west decks' gate when the stadium got significantly louder. all the sudden, the student section got fierce. so i went back and watched them, not the game, because honestly, what i enjoy the most about the game is the intensity of the student section, the amount of raucous they create. that the aggies win, that's great. but it's not what makes me smile. the sights and sounds of the twelfth man in action, that brings a great joy to my heart.

so i sat on the east side of the south end zone on the track staring toward the north end of east first deck where the corps of cadets and the fightin texas aggie band stand, and up at the second and third decks, where the fish and the sophomores and some of the juniors stand, and even the not-so-student sections of the southern ends of the east deck, near where i was supposed to be. i'd listen to the commentator's account of the game, though i didn't really need to hear him. i could see on the board between the first and second deck who had the ball, where it was, and what down, how many yards to first, etc. etc. but more, i could tell by the vehemence of the crowd how well the ags were doing.

and it was beautiful to see.

of course, i was told by one of the aggie gatehawks, for lack of a better term, that sitting there wasn't a great idea.

and of course, i got mad again and made my way back to the west gates.

a lot of students, though, were running back to the fray. in fact, i heard one say to his friends that maybe the reason the team was losing because they'd left.

and the twelfth man just got louder and louder. because, where the aggies had been behind by fourteen points at the start of the fourth quarter, now they were behind by seven. and the golden panthers of florida international could not even score a field goal.

so i went back. into the stands. to the last row of section one hundred forty-five. and i stood there and screamed as loud as i could, so much so that my head was bound to explode, and i waved that white towel as frantically as i could, and i jumped up and down on that wood in an attempt to make as much noise as possible.

and that, my friends, is how you watch a football game.

that is how you screw an opponent. the ags won twenty-seven to twenty.

i texted my friend when i got back to my car and made sure i had it right. i did.

so to the fat, bald, bearded, redneck jackass in seat one of row thirty-seven of section one hundred forty-six. i'm so sorry that i'm too tall. i'm so sorry you're too lazy to root for the aggies the way it ought to be done. but i will be standing on that wood for every home game played for the rest of this season. and if you can't see? that's just too damned bad. sit closer to the field next year.

and for now? get on the wood.


  1. Sorry so many people tried to ruin the game for you, especially the idiot sitting by you.

    I'm glad you finally found your way to celebrate anyway.

    If it helps, I probably would have just given in and sat down, too. And been angry with myself.

  2. WHOOOOOOOOP!!!!!!

  3. Just found your blog...class of '07 here! WHOOP!

    I'm sorry someone tried to say stuff to you about standing, but I'm glad you ultimately found a place to join in on the fun that is the 12th man. I haven't been back to a game since graduation because I was in law school, but my husband and I miss them SO much.

    Thanks for this post, and, gig 'em.

  4. Well, I admire your passion. I can't believe you were lying on the sidewalk - that cracks me up! Good for you for going back and screaming your face off!