Carolina basketball, to be exact.
I tell you this for free, people, I had never seen a basketball game, live or on the television, professional or college, until I met my husband. Actually, I've never been as close to sports in general in my entire life as I've become over the last ten years. Michael is a junkie. There, I said it. He lives and breaths basketball, football and baseball; professional, college and even little league.
But I have to admit, there's nothing better than being in the arena or at the stadium to get the full effect of the game, the excitement and the enthusiasm of the fans. And, you know the old adage, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!
I don't know if I've ever shared with you that Michael hails from the great state of Kentucky. If you know anything about Kentucky, you know it's horses and the UK Wildcats basketball team. I remember my first visit back home to meet Michael's family. EVERYWHERE I went, I was in a sea of royal blue. From infants to great grandparents. From Wal-Mart to Nordstrom. From the Gremlin to the Mercedes...Kentucky hats, shirts, shorts, earrings, ponytail holders, gloves, tank tops, sweatshirts, socks, sweaters, jackets, china, tablecloths, flags, yard art...you get the idea. These people were born into it the team spirit; they never stood a chance. And I quickly learned that if I were going to fit in this family, I better don my UK duds ASAP. And the loyal wife that I am, although you can't see it in the photo above, I am sporting a rather striking UK hoodie...in a sea of Carolina Blue. Oh my. This is one of those occasions when I am SO glad my husband is an officer of the law! Ha!
Every two years these cats come to town (sometimes with their biggest fan in tow, Miss Ashley Judd). And ever since we've lived here we've been fortunate enough to attend this match up, except for 2004 when Michael simply could not get out of a work assignment. It was a dark day in Bear Creek that afternoon. And every two years Michael's uncle, Dale Emmons, makes the trek east to Chapel Hill to root on his beloved Wildcats. We've come to so look forward to this tradition that's been established. Dale always makes time in his trip to meet Mike and I for breakfast or lunch and catch up on the family.
This year was no different. We knew Dale was en route and Mike was able to work out his schedule so that we would all meet and have a sweet visit over lunch. We were down, however, because Michael was not able to score any game tickets this year. Little did we know Uncle Dale had come to the rescue! He surprised us as we were leaving the restaurant! He asked us where we should meet up later that night in order for him to hand off our tickets. Michael and I looked at each other like he had three heads. Dale says "oh, did I forget to mention I was able to hook you up?" He just as well handed us two bars of gold.
What made this game most noteworthy was, not only was it a complete surprise, but, as I told Dale, Michael was especially deserving of such a treat.
My husband works hard. He puts his life on the line everyday and I continually pray that the public recognizes that. But when his back is to the wall, Mike takes on true grit. It has been challenging for us since I was laid off in October. But Michael has risen to the occasion, as he always does, and picked up all the off duty work his schedule will allow - thus putting himself further in harm's way.
No one was more deserving...(I'm just sorry UK lost - go Heels (hee, hee, hee) )