This morning got off to a rough start — for Pippa, at least — when the parking lot across the street began to fill up early with partisans of the visiting college football team. As this is our seventh football season living on the Northwestern campus (gosh, that seems like a long time; I haven’t lived anywhere longer since I left high school), rowdy visiting fans are not a new phenomenon to us; still, this bunch seemed earlier and more ardent than most we’d experienced, including the Michigan fans from a few weeks ago. Before nine o’clock, someone had blared a klaxon reveille to rally the visiting tailgaters, and it got more lively from there.
I should say that although people were obviously excited and had drunk more beer than advisable before eleven in the morning, I didn’t see anyone misbehave except for the over-endowed student in a Porsche who made a sudden left turn into the parking lot without signalling, and who refused to back up when it became clear that there was no way forward for him, and who finally did back out slowly, blocking traffic on Noyes Street longer than necessary because he seemed to harbor the notion that if only a few cars rolled forward out of the lot, he could squeeze in. Hey, we’ll all wait in gridlock while you come to terms with reality, dude. But I saw no signs of hooliganism or predation (unless you think of beer kegs as an endangered species).
It turns out these early-rising lagermeisters were Iowa Hawkeye fans, so I was predisposed to think the best of them, since some of my very favorite students are from Iowa. On the other hand, I hated to think what the parking lot might be like after the game. The game started at midday, so there would be plenty of time for gloating if the Hawkeyes won, which seemed especially likely when they went ahead 28-7 or thereabouts, or for vindictive vandalism if the Hawkeyes lost.
In the end, Northwestern won with just seconds left in the game, and thunderstorms moved into the region right about that time — so even if the Iowans had felt embittered and destructive (and I have no reason to think they would have — sometimes beer just mellows people out), this would not have been favorable weather for rampaging. Instead, everyone skulked back to Iowa, leaving the customary heaps of trash, bottles, and smoldering charcoal briquets.