Friday night football ritual

Somehow I got a few minutes behind schedule Friday night and was late arriving for the New Albany High School football game at Kitchens Field.
My wife, Jenny, points out that my definition of late arrival is way different than hers. The first time we went to an Ole Miss game, we were standing in front of the stadium when they unlocked the gates. We walked around the entire inside of the stadium and chatted with some of the ushers and ate barbecue nachos before anyone else showed up.
Friday, I didn’t miss any of the New Albany game either. But I did get there only 45 minutes before kickoff, instead of my usual hour. It messed up my whole routine.
I felt the need to hurry as I stopped at the concession stand to buy my usual two cheeseburgers, a bag of chips and a bottle of water. I even thought for a moment about skipping my ritual of unwrapping the cheeseburgers, forking a slice of tomato and three pickle slices onto each and carefully squeezing mayonnaise on them so I get a taste of it in each bite.
But it wouldn’t be a ritual if I skipped it, would it? Besides, I can hardly eat dry burgers without my favorite accompaniments. That’s one of the reasons to go early, before the fixings are all picked over.
I dressed my burgers and hurried to my seat. I say “my seat” because I always sit in exactly the same spot on the same bleacher row, on an aisle on the 43-yard line. It’s the perfect place because it’s in the shade and up high enough that my view of the game isn’t blocked by socializers wandering the aisle in front of the bleachers.
Drat, I thought to myself as I started up the steps. Someone was in my seat. Out of all the empty bleachers, why did someone have to sit in my seat? As I climbed the steps, I decided I was being a little too much like Monk, the persnickety fellow on the old TV show.
There was a spot down one row, in front of my favorite seat. The seats are all alike; they’re just aluminum bleachers, I told myself. But it wasn’t the same. The tops of people’s heads standing in the aisle obscured me from seeing some of the team on the sideline.
I was going to text Jenny, who was at home grading her 4th graders’ papers, that someone had gotten my favorite seat. Then I thought about how much she pokes fun at my penchant for getting places early.
Maybe not, I said to myself, putting my phone back in my pocket.
Instead, I set to work eating my burgers and my chips, because I like to be done with my meal before the band arrives for its pregame show.
I got a little help getting back on schedule because lots of kids who participate in little cheerleader and youth football programs were introduced before the game. It made the band a bit late getting started.
Soon the game started and I forgot that I wasn’t sitting in my favorite seat. Well, almost.    
Next time I won’t be late.

T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached at 662-534-6321 or at