Friday, October 16, 2015

Easy Lies the Head That Wears the Tiara

Whew! Have you ever had a short week that seems very long yet you have no time to do what you want to do... like write your post for the week? Well, that's been my week. I don't mind when fun interrupts writing, but how dare work interfere with it? When you work in customer service for a software company and your entire network hosting center crashes and your systems fade to black, blog posts are shoved to the bottom of the agenda quickly! But, it's Friday, my work week is now over, and it's looking like a great maize and blue Michigan weekend! I can't wait for it to start!

I spent the past weekend in Northern Michigan with seven of my girlfriends on our 24th Annual Girls Weekend. I wrote about this annual trek last year not long after I started this blog. It's a time we look forward to as a group, partly for the shopping, serious girl talk and chick flick wallows. It's also our time for relentless wine and beer "tasting" and some friendly group football rivalries. This year we topped it all off, so to speak, by sporting beautiful tiaras with genuine faux diamantes everywhere.

Tiaras for World Peace and Adult Beverages; U-M alums
are 4th (my MGoFriend Val) and 7th (MGoGirl) from left.
The rest of the crowd boasts Badger & Spartan alums, 
Spartan moms, Hurons, & ladies too sweet to pick sides.
Photo credit: Harbor, Inc.
On Saturday, our day trip led us to Harbor Springs to visit Pond Hill Farm's Tunnel Vision Brewery and Winery, followed by a royal appearance at the inaugural Harbor Springs Beer Festival. The two of us who are Michigan alumnae were very aware of being knee deep in Spartan shi.., er... territory. Green coats and hats and other dreary, mossy-looking apparel surrounded us at every turn although I sensed other U-M fans were among us. As we know, the Wolverine is a much more elusive and stealthy killer beast than the noisy, muscle-bound Spartan! It was all very civil and fun as we smiled and waved our way about town. I can tell you, a boldly worn tiara at a public venue may be the answer to world peace. Spartans, Wolverines, and everyone we encountered were charmed by our sparkling presence and sought our benevolent attention everywhere we went.

In between beers and dancing and explanations of our headgear, we caught most of the Michigan-Northwestern game via mobile updates, arriving home to the cottage just in time to catch the last five glorious minutes of a rout that was supposed to be a challenge. As we then watched the MSU-Rutgers game, the Wolverines among us tried hard, in the interest of friendship, not to giggle and fist bump with every Spartan miscue or Scarlet Knights' success. Although a little part of me wanted MSU to lose a humiliating game to a B1G cellar dweller, it ended as it needed to: with their undefeated status intact but smudged yet again by lackluster play and difficulty with a team they should have devoured. For the realization of Michigan's dreams to be even sweeter, they needed the Spartans to enter the Big House tomorrow 6-0, still convinced of their superiority and dripping with excuses for being the luckiest undefeated team in the country.

I know Jim Harbaugh doesn't believe in jinxes so I'm not going to worry about them either. Well, except for the navy blue polish on my toes that will be there until they lose. I'll just say it. I have a really good feeling about Saturday. A this-is-destiny feeling about it. I'm sure MSU will play the best game of their season against us. Mark Dantonio will show some things he's been saving just for October 17. You know there's going to be a fake punt or other trick in there somewhere.

I'm equally certain that Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines have some surprises up their sleeves, too. After watching nearly every Michigan game and every Spartan game this season, I can't come to any other conclusion: Michigan, right now, is the better overall team and has the ability to emerge from this match victorious. 

I don't have any hard science backing me and you can still find "experts" claiming that MSU remains one of the best teams in the country and a contender for the national playoff. I don't know which MSU they've been watching, but the one I've seen isn't the team it was last year. Whether they're missing Narduzzi, struggling with injuries, or just aren't aligned, they aren't playing like they're hungry to remain in the Top 10. Their wins at times seem more like SOLs (Short Of a Loss) than convincing Ws. On the other hand, I think Michigan is looking sharper every week. The offense is steadily improving and Rudock is slowly finding his confidence as a leader. Special teams are making big contributions. And the defense, well, if Connor Cook isn't looking at our D line-up with more than a little trepidation, he's nuts. I fully expect Mr. Cook to be pulling little green and black rubber bits from his ears, nose, and teeth before the end of the game.

As a newly experienced crown-wearer, I can tell you, it feels good. It feels right. The attention is addictive and the feelings of confidence and invincibility are heady. I think it can also be a burden. I hear it's lonely at the top. You're a target for usurpers. The weight of expectations and the heavy eyes of critics watch your every move. It takes a toll. 

"Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown." Shakespeare gives these words to Henry IV, who cannot rest or find the nightly peace that even his most lowly subjects enjoy. Ohio State wears a national crown. MSU has worn a conference crown. Both have lorded over the Wolverines for years, relegating our once proud program to the yeoman's rank or what even began to feel like serfdom at times. 

From all I can tell now, the crowns are weighing heavy in East Lansing and Columbus these days. It's hard to stay on top and do it honorably. It's difficult not to swoon in the oxygen-starved heights at the top of the polls. You believe that you've arrived and it feels so good and no one is going to take it away from you. You know that your hated rival has been reduced to a joke and that you will own them for years to come. No one can question your right to be at the top. No one can disrespect the crown and the success it represents. 

Well, the crown is bearing down hard and the Spartans are going to feel the weight of it this Saturday. I don't know if we'll win or not. I could be way out of line in thinking we have this in the bag. What I do know is MSU is going to look the usurper in the eye and feel the heat of a Michigan revolution. As Mark Dantonio said in 2007, as the crown became heavy for Michigan, "Let's just remember, pride comes before the’s not over and it’ll never be over here. It’s just starting...Their time will come."

And ol' Miralax Mark was right. Our time did come and we served it in Hell, thank you. And we learned a lot about ourselves along the way. We're better fans and a better team for it now. I could easily toss Dantonio's words back to him regarding his team today. I feel it happening - a palpable shift in power and momentum between East Lansing and Ann Arbor. It's driven by a body of highly energized sub-atomic particles that I defy Stephen Hawking to explain: Jim Harbaugh.

I would advise the Spartans to enjoy the weight of their crown while they can. The Once and Future King is on the march and an army 110,000 strong will be behind him and his team tomorrow. It will be loud. It will be hostile. It just might be beautiful.

No matter what happens, the Wolverine head that wears this tiara hasn't rested this easily in quite some time! 

Now go, my Wolverines, and hasten to your posts. Eat and drink merrily! Be fierce in your support of our team, shouting lustily...

Go Blue! Beat State!

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