If you're reading this post as a friend of mine from college and not from high school, you may not know that I have a long childhood history of debilitating nosebleeds. If you're reading as a friend from high school and not college, you may not know that yesterday, at Notre Dame, was the final home football game of the season and of my college career, known to students and spectators as "Senior Day." No matter how you know me, though, you're probably confused (with a small handful of exceptions) as to what those two sentences have to do with one another.
Well, friends, these two facts of my life collided yesterday in glorious fashion. Because this concept of nosebleeds made this concept of Senior Day so literally unbelievable to behold, I have taken it upon myself to give you the full story of Sarah Cahalan's Last Home Football Game. Buckle in, dear readers - it's a weird, weird ride.
At 12:45 yesterday afternoon, I settled on the perfect outfit to balance marshmallow storage, marshmallow/snow-proof materials, and warmth to shield against what would be the coldest Notre Dame home game since 1991. Two pairs of tights, one pair of jeans, one pair of knee socks, one pair of already-destroyed old sneakers, one long-sleeved shirt, one short-sleeved The Shirt (completing, by the way, my perfect record of wearing The Shirt at home games as a student), one North Face coat, one rain jacket, and two gallon-sized Ziplocs full of Jet-Puffed marshmallows stood between me and the elements. It was 25 degrees and snowing, and it was time to tailgate.
After some aimless wandering through what can really only be called a blizzard, I found my way to the one tailgate I realistically expected to attend, and I set up camp. They had chili. They had cider. They had cupcakes. They had a parking spot only a few feet from DPAC, which had unlocked its exterior doors to allow freezing tailgaters to warm up in the space between the exterior and interior doors. I took advantage of all of these glorious offerings, and at 3:15 or so, I set off with two friends for the stadium. At 3:17 or so, I popped a marshmallow into my mouth for one last pre-game snack. At 3:18, the saga of the Epic Gameday Nosebleed officially began.
I pinched my nose shut as quickly as I could, basically ruining one of my poor texting gloves - let's not pretend I'm responsible enough to keep Kleenex in my purse like some kind of adult or something - and made a brief pit stop with my friends at the first tailgate we saw that had napkins lying around. Armed with these, we headed for the Senior line and processed (in my case, with much assistance) into the stadium. [Note: If you ever want to sneak things into the stadium, walk in conspicuously trying to stop a bloody nose. They will ignore your student ID, they will barely look in your purse...I feel confident you could smuggle in a small dog so long as your nose was bleeding.]
Knowing we couldn't just waltz into the student section with my nose bleeding everywhere, my friends and I headed for the bathroom. I explained to roughly 3 dozen old acquaintances that yes, my nose was bleeding, yes, that was both terrible and funny, and, no, I didn't get punched in the face. I went through about 2 large trees' worth of paper towels. I had two tampons opened for and given to me by a well-meaning young lady who promised that "it's weird, but they really are great for nosebleeds!" By the time 3:50 rolled around with no real break in the severity of this mystery nosebleed, my friends and I realized that we weren't getting into the game any time soon if left to our own rudimentary medical devices. After calling my mother in a panic and getting a reminder that stadium first aid is, in fact, a thing, we headed to the stadium's first aid office.
This, oddly enough, is where things get AWESOME. Friends, stadium first aid is an underutilized and undervalued miracle resource. As the snow flew and the temperatures dropped a few yards away in the stands, my friends and I sat in a heated room full of creature comforts for almost the entire first half of the game. We watched the game on TV. We sat down (or, in my case, laid down) in comfortable chairs and hospital beds as our peers stood for the first of four hours on those miserable wooden benches. I held an ice pack to my nose for twenty minutes without a hint of discomfort while my classmates watched their noses slowly turn to ice in the chill of the stadium. My nose eventually stopped bleeding, and the staff sent me on my way with a purse full of gauze, a bottle of nasal spray, and an inside scoop on which techniques to avoid in the marshmallow fight to emerge free of gruesome bodily harm. (Insider tip: scratched corneas - from marshmallows, which are basically just sugar - are a big problem on marshmallow fight day.)
With a few minutes left in the second quarter, we made our way out to the student section. I unlocked a hidden talent for lobbing marshmallows at people. I took one marshmallow directly to the right cheekbone at at least 15 miles per hour. (Fingers crossed for a sweet black eye tomorrow!) I got into several violent scuffles with a turquoise poncho that some idiot decided to leave in the vat of marshmallow goo that had overtaken our section. I proudly but narrowly avoided tears as we sang our final student-section alma mater and the band took the field in the valve-freezing, sky-concealing snowstorm of the century. I really underwhelmingly "stormed" the field with my class (read: walked onto the field in an orderly fashion through the gate at the bottom of our section). I went to dinner. All was well.
Wrong. You see, after dinner, a different set of friends and I decided to return to one's off-campus abode for a quick movie before all heading back to our own places and off to bed. This, of course, was also lovely. We watched 27 Dresses; I was reminded of how precisely James Marsden's character is my soul mate and Judy Greer's character is, well, me; all was well.
Upon leaving the house, my friend and I discovered that the snow had come down rather harder in this movie-watching interval than we had expected. We brushed off my windows and very cautiously hit the road. At an average speed just about equal to that of the marshmallow that had crashed into my face a few hours earlier, we made our way back to the D6 parking lot. We decided, as our dorms lie rather far apart from each other, that we'd give a ring to NDSP's SafeRide program to get ourselves escorted the rest of the way home. Reasonable, right?
Wrong again! The NDSP dispatcher informed us essentially that, well, since we're talking to NDSP anyway, we might as well know that there's a "suspicious party" wandering around D6 at that very moment, and that our altogether safer bet would be to hang out next door in the WNDU-TV staff lot until SafeRide could send us both a ride and an all-clear. We headed to WNDU and watched as four separate NDSP squad cars traipsed in and out of D6 and seemed to totally ignore our presence. After a long while sitting unattended outside the empty studio, we finally got an all-clear call from NDSP and returned to the D6 lot. The officer appeared and drove us back to our dorms - stopping between them, of course, to "talk with" some gentlemen he spotted who matched the description of the alleged D6 suspicious party.
I made it back to my room - pausing briefly, of course, to tell my RA the full story of this ridiculous day when we happened to cross paths - and went, at long last, to bed, confident in the knowledge that this is hands-down the weirdest Senior Day of all time. Think you can top it, my friends? I'd love to see you try.
I may not have any more home games from the student section left in my schedule, but it's been a good run, ND football - and I wouldn't have ended my time with you in any other way.