It's a life-giving river flowing through us from the arterial tributaries of generations of men and women we never knew, but whose DNA stretches still within us. I'm fascinated endlessly by thinking of the parts of my being for which I can thank some Danish Viking or Saxon warlord that fought into my gene pool over a 1000 years ago.
I see it in my absolute love of winter and cold. My ability to wear the scratchiest wool. Even in my appreciation for sharp, well-balanced, utilitarian knives that can get just about any job done.
Something happened yesterday, though, that surprised even me -- the Viking Warrior Princess that my friends have called me. Michigan beat Rutgers into a bloody pulp and rather than feel by the second quarter that we needed to stop the madness, I felt a berserker bloodlust rise in me that was unexpected and exhilarating. I'd hardly given Rutgers football a spare thought in my entire life and yet, there I was late in the game getting angry that they got a first down. Horrified that we almost allowed them that one called-back score.
I was a cold, heartless Michigan fanbeast who wanted to see how far we could take it. I've been going to Michigan games since the early '70s and have seen lots of blowouts that put me to sleep. This one had me begging. One more TD please. Go for two. Get them back to negative yardage. More shots of their coach staring in abject horror. Volume up on their band playing our victorious march. Let every NJ Wolverine play every position and run it up to 100 - you have three minutes left!
Then it came to an end. 78-0. And then there was baseball that's not the Tigers and some sad West Coast games to turn to. Ugh. The mental let down was real. Not unlike, I imagine, how it felt to storm a beach screaming into your enemies' homes, stealing all they hold dear, then having a moment to process your mad success and your power and your domination and wondering, "So, what do I have to match that feeling today?"
I know that much of this comes from watching Rutgers and coach Chris Ash using a soft little twig to jab with child-like glee at Coach Harbaugh and the Wolverines over the past several months. Their taunting words must be haunting today: "this is our national championship" and "we would choose Chris Ash over Harbaugh any day." And the actions that may haunt Rutgers for years: bringing a reported 200 recruits to watch their "national championship" - then not sending them home before the end of the 1st quarter. The patience with which Harbaugh took this yearlong buzzing was perfect. His design to pay them for it had to be expected. Ash could not be that stupid, right? Harbaugh taught Rutgers a valuable life lesson last night and he was quite merciful in the doing. He stormed their garden, spilled some blood on their grounds, stole some of their loot (hopefully some 4*/5*), and left them alive to report their story of horror to those who would replace them in the fray another day. He was a better man than I would have been, but now that my blood is cooled, I can admit the wisdom in that.
What I can't deny is that the bloodlust is alive in me now and I don't know if I can quell it going forward. The taste was as glorious as a half-price Ruth's Chris steak. The rush was pure catharthis. To feel the same way against the Spartans... the Buckeyes... jeez, my heart would explode. It's needed that feeling for so very long. Until those battles happen, though, I'm going to make a valiant effort to temper myself. Each game as it comes. Trust in our leadership. Believe in our team. There is nothing they can't achieve this year. Even the Vikings knew when to fight and when to farm the garden.
And now, off to ready myself for the greatest antidote for bloodlust. Indifference and the Lions.
#GoBlue from my bloody red Viking heart! Skål!