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Heartwarming Small-Town Romances and Thrilling Mysteries

Our daughter has joined a cult. We don’t mind because at the end of her tenure she’ll get a cape, a doctorate, and the ability to be an expert in ergonomics. That seems a good trade-off for three years of work.

Hubby and I visited our daughter at her new home beside Texas A&M University where she’s working on her PhD program. To say we’re proud of her is an understatement. She’s fully entrained in the Aggieland culture where maroon/white and traditions are king. She comes by it naturally since her grandfather is an Aggie (there is no past tense in being an Aggie) and I was born while he was going to school there. In fact, Daughter’s and SIL’s apartment sits on the site of the old apartment complex that my parents lived in when they were there. It’s on the lot that was my first home. How weird is that!

Texas A&M is a city to itself, with 76,000 students roaming the huge campus in their maroon and white shirts, backpacks, and jackets. Daughter and SIL’s apartment abuts the campus so she can ride her bike to get to and from her office and the lab. It’s a mile and a half hike to Kyle Stadium, the fourth largest football stadium in the nation at 102,000 seats. Our purpose in visiting was to see the Aggies play University of Massachusetts on Kyle Field. We all love football, so we were really looking forward to that.

Part of the process of watching Aggie football is attending Midnight Yell Practice the night before the game. Yes, at midnight the night before, half a stadium of students, parents, and fans gather in the stands to practice the yells, movements, and to be entertained by the Yell Leaders. A&M doesn’t have cheerleaders; they have male yell leaders who are voted on each year. The band plays songs, including the school fight song which Hubby and I knew because we were told we had to learn it by Daughter (there would be a test on it). We sang along and swayed from side to side when we got to the “sawing the horns off” part. It made me dizzy, so it was a good thing people were holding on to me. I’m not sure what time we finally got to bed but it was the wee hours of morning.

Game day dawned gray and rainy and cold. We caught a shuttle about a block from the apartment that took us to the stadium. Daughter had bought a new umbrella for us to use, but no umbrellas were allowed inside. We left them at the gate with the all the others (they were gone when we went back). We made our way up, up, up to our endzone seats. We brought towels to dry off the bench, but it was still really wet. The aluminum plank must bend my way because I sat in a puddle the whole time. The rain was steady, and a stiff, cool breeze fanned us.

We watched most of the first half no complaints. We tried to cheer as best we could. Then the event we were waiting for began. The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band took the field at halftime. If you’ve never seen them perform, go to YouTube and look them up. They are amazing to watch. Their marching goes in all kinds of patterns as they crisscross through each other and down the lines. How they keep from running into each other is amazing. Precision never looked so good. It was the highlight of the game. (Admit it, Aggie football fans, the band remains undefeated.)

When the band left the field, we left our seats and headed out with almost all of the other fans in the stands. Only the lucky ones with seats under an overhang or in the fancy boxes stayed to see the Aggies beat UMass. We made our way out of the stadium, and SIL and I waited in the rain for a shuttle while Hubby and Daughter walked home in the rain. By the time we got back to the apartment and dried off, the game was over.

Later that night, the news reported that the coach was to blame for emptying the stadium in the rain. If he coached better and the team had won more games, the crowd would have stayed. Really? The coach was to blame? I beg to differ. The reason we left was because we were FREEZING! We had enough sense to come in out of the rain and not catch pneumonia. The coach had nothing to do with that. And after they beat LSU this past weekend, I think the coach is doing okay.

Hubby and I will be wearing maroon a lot in the next three years. I already have a shirt that says Aggie Mom on it, plus I had an old sweatshirt with the A&M logo on it. We don’t mind our daughter being in this cult because it will help her achieve her dreams. We look forward to celebrating her next big achievement at the end of her tenure.

At Midnight Yell Practice. Can’t believe we stayed up this late.

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