My 2nd hottest guy friend forewarned me that there are a lot of them in this city, but I didn’t realize the extent of their population in NYC until today. And no, I’m not talking about cockroaches – although, there are plenty of them in the city too… but rather, I’m referring to Michigan alumni. And perhaps some of them convincingly fake their ties to the university (as my friend Colin Campbell does) for their love of Michigan football, but regardless, I wasn’t expecting the masses that I encountered when I entered Professor Thom’s to watch the game.
I suppose I should explain…Professor Thom isn’t actually a professor, but rather he’s a bar tender at a sports bar on 2nd Avenue, just a few blocks from Union Square. I had caught wind that Michigan fans gather there to watch the games and being that I have no television in my apartment, I ventured to Thom’s to join the maize and blue community of NYC. Honestly, I wish I could have taken someone with me, but my friend base in NYC at the moment is rather limited, so I entered the bar alone. (On a side note, if you know of someone – not married couples - who currently resides in the city and might want to be my friend, I’m currently accepting friend recommendations. I’d be particularly thrilled if you can recommend someone who is into rock climbing or Michigan football or might want to start a small group with me that would listen to and discuss LA Mosaic’s podcasts.)
The place was packed - so much so that I suspect that we were breaking fire code - and everyone was sporting some sort of Michigan t-shirt or jersey, and there were those that even went as far as to wear face paint. The game, which could be viewed on over 25 flat screens throughout the place, blared over the chatter and cheers of those in the bar. Although we were in Manhattan, miles away from Ann Arbor, it kind of felt like we were there - at the Big House, experiencing everything firsthand. There was “that guy” with the cowbell who would lead the “Go Blue” chant and with every touchdown Hail to the Victors would play over the sound system and we would all sang along.
I love those moments in life when feel and know that you are a part of something bigger and greater than yourself – where there is a spirit celebration and joy that can’t really be explained, but it is there and your soul knows it is right and how things should be. I think that is what we ought to experience in our faith journey, and what Jesus was referring to when he said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Shortly after half time I met a couple of guys - Toby and Bruce. Toby asked if I had just graduated. I laughed and explained that I had graduated a while ago, and that I had just moved here from Southern California. He informed me that he had graduated in 2005, and then continued digging for my age, by insisting that I tell him what year I graduated. And so I did (and honestly, I have no problem stating that I graduated from college in 2000 and that I am currently 32 years old. If anything, I just wish men under the age of 25 would stop hitting on me.)
Toby is 27, and although within range, he’s not within possibility. I’m rather certain he would agree with me. I asked what line of work he is in and he told me that he’s a youth director – at a synagogue, and that he is also in a band. He told me he’s supposed to be a role model, but he doesn’t always feel like one. I argued that the very fact that he is pursuing his dreams makes him one, because so many people don’t. At the end of Michigan’s win over University of Connecticut (30-10), Toby asked if I wanted to meet up later that night; I passed on the invitation, explaining that I already had plans for the evening, but that perhaps I’d see him back at Thom’s for another Michigan game sometime in the near future.