The Rose Bowl is why I love apocalypse years. I’ve lived through two, Y2K and the upcoming Mayan doomsday, and when I celebrate how the world didn’t actually end a month from now, it will be the second time that I’m doing so in Pasadena.
The myriad memories from my first Rose Bowl trip in 1999 — I was six — are vivid to this day, fresher in my mind than my Bar Mitzvah, my high school graduation or even the EE problem set I did last week. And now we get to make some new ones.
The Rose Bowl is why, whenever I visit my grandma’s house, I take a special trip to the refrigerator. On it hangs a picture of my dad and me, decked in Stanford gear before I was even old enough to know the word “decked,” smiling cheekily at the camera. Age has grayed his hair, braces have straightened my teeth and the three-foot height difference between us has been more than made up, but not much else has changed.
The Rose Bowl is why I can’t help but smile when I walk into my garage. In a little nook on the right side still sits the unopened box of Duraflame logs my dad had bought 13 years ago, just in case utilities broke down on my mom and sister at the turn of the millennium while he and I were living it up in L.A.
The Rose Bowl is why I hate the Fox show “Futurama.” When a friend showed an episode to me last year, it happened to be some sort of Y2K flashback. A TV with the Rose Bowl on appeared in the background for a second, and there it was, Stanford and Wisconsin in a close game at halftime…but the animators had put Wisconsin ahead 9-3 when it was really the Cardinal that had led by that score. I screamed at the TV, I screamed at my friend and I never willingly watched another episode.
The Rose Bowl is why I have trouble tuning in for Heisman Trophy ceremonies. I probably just hold a grudge because of his 200 yards in that millennium game, but I swear to god that Ron Dayne gets mentioned way too much. And Montee Ball will be in for a stern talking-to if he emulates his Wisconsin predecessor next month.
The Rose Bowl is why I love white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. I tried my first one on Jan. 2, 2000, as our plane was taxiing out of John Wayne Airport, and any disappointment over the loss the day before melted away. That cookie also broke free my first loose tooth, which I still have at home.
The Rose Bowl is why, at Friday’s Pac-12 Championship Game, my white hands were speckled Cardinal red (too much clapping) and my Cardinal-red lips were chapped white (too much screaming). Like all true Stanford fans, I wasn’t fully satisfied with the Orange and Fiesta Bowls the last two seasons and would do whatever I could to ensure a shorter plane flight this time around.
And behind a team that likes to play it disgustingly close, we finally get to book those tickets to Pasadena again. We finally get to live a new set of memories.
So as we were being asked to clear the muddy Stanford Stadium field after Friday’s celebration, I dropped to my knees, kissed the goal line and stole a tuft of grass from the end zone. (Don’t worry; it has nine months to grow back before the 2013 home opener.)
That bit of turf is going in a plastic bag to be stashed alongside the photo, the Duraflame logs and the lost tooth from 13 years ago. They won’t be in the same drawer or even room, but they’ll always share a place in this Stanford fan’s heart.
Because for me, Cardinal football isn’t just about sports. It’s about the greater Stanford community, it’s about family and it’s especially about tradition. The Grandaddy of Them All epitomizes those things, which is why this New Year’s will be especially special for anyone who makes the trip.
Besides, the Rose Bowl’s is one parade that even an apocalypse cannot rain on.
If you appreciate Joseph Beyda’s continual loyalty, let him know at jbeyda “at” stanford.edu because the man always is looking for reasons to hum “All Right Now.” Follow him on Twitter @DailyJBeyda.