â†µI didn’t have as much fun in college â†µas I should have. Everyone has wild â†µstories from college -- manic kids â†µflush with their first taste of freedom â†µexperimenting, running amok. I was â†µnot like that. I toiled at the student â†µnewspaper 12 hours a day, graduated â†µin four years and foolishly acted like â†µcollege was for work, not play. That â†µwas dumb. I have a pathetically small â†µnumber of fun stories from college. I â†µregret it. â†µ
â†µMostly, I wish I had sat with the â†µstudents for basketball games rather â†µthan in the press box. At Illinois, the â†µOrange Krush student section rivals â†µthe best pep squads -- just a bunch of â†µscreaming loons singing “Oskee Wow â†µWow,” jeering at Big Ten foes and â†µmaking idiots of themselves in the â†µname of all things Illini. They look like â†µthey’re having so much fun, situated â†µcourtside and causing a ruckus. Those â†µseats cost thousands in the NBA; â†µin college, they’re 10 bucks with a â†µstudent ID. â†µâ†µ
â†µSo when one of those Krush â†µstudents offered me a ticket for the â†µIllinois-Purdue game (on CBS!), I leapt â†µat the opportunity. At last, 12 years â†µafter graduating, I could live the crazy â†µcollege experience. All night drinking! â†µFace painting! Mean remarks about â†µChris Kramer’s mother! Bring it. â†µI envisioned a “You Are Here” â†µparticipatory journalism project, but â†µmostly I just wanted to tell Chester â†µFrazier how awesome he is from a â†µdangerously close distance. â†µâ†µ
â†µI knew I was in trouble the night â†µbefore, when my contact, an ambitious â†µfreshman named Spencer Turkin, â†µsent me a text message: “Great news! â†µA bunch of us have decided to sleep â†µoutside Assembly Hall before the â†µgame. We’ll be there waiting for â†µyou when your plane lands!” Wait. â†µSleeping outside? In the cold? I â†µsuddenly felt old. I texted Spencer : “Thanks and all, but I’ll sleep in a bed, â†µif that’s OK.” â†µâ†µ
â†µAt 8 a.m., four hours before tipoff, â†µI showed up clad in orange and was â†µtold immediately by the groggy crew â†µof all-nighters that this would not do. â†µWithin minutes, I was wearing an â†µorange construction helmet, orange â†µsunglasses, an orange hunting vest â†µand an Orange Krush T-shirt. “Better,” â†µsaid Myles Hastings, a senior who’s â†µhead of the Krush. The doors opened â†µat 11 and we sprinted to our seats. I â†µwas at courtside, 10 feet from Verne â†µLundquist, who, I’m not ashamed to â†µsay, is an incredibly handsome man. â†µâ†µ
â†µIt’s a lot of work sitting in the â†µstudent section. You stand the whole â†µtime, and there are organized cheers I â†µhad to cram for. You learn what to do â†µwhen the opposing team is shooting â†µfree throws, which player to ruthlessly â†µscream vulgarities at (Purdue’s â†µKramer, obviously), how to deal with â†µthe refs (be polite but firm) and which â†µplayers need a boost when they’re â†µdown (Alex Legion tops this list). â†µThese guys had stayed up all night and â†µwere at the peak of their abilities the â†µwhole game. Me? I was exhausted by â†µhalftime. By game’s end, this old man â†µjust needed a chair. â†µâ†µ
â†µThe Illini won handily, so I didn’t â†µrush the court like I’d dreamed. But I â†µdid all right. I didn’t get thrown out, â†µmy helmet didn’t fall off and cause â†µMike Tisdale to tear an ACL (my â†µbiggest fear), and I think referee Tom â†µO’Neill might be my new best friend. â†µBut, yes: I’m too old for this. Those â†µkids have a lot more energy than I do. â†µAfterward, I bought beer for the kids â†µwho let me sit with them, sang one last â†µ“Oskee Wow Wow” and then slept for â†µ15 hours. Turns out, college is still too â†µwild for me. â†µâ†µ
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