By Tim Sullivan
Football season calls for making plans with my Boston College buddies in Atlanta. We all migrated here seeking a reprieve from the weather in the northeast. When I graduated, the Olympics were on the horizon in Atlanta so it seemed like a good destination. My brother Bill graduated from BC two years after me and brought his own crew of transplants. Collectively, we extended our college fun well into our twenties (thirties?) and Atlanta became home. Boston College moved from the Big East conference to the ACC bringing Eagle action to the Southeast and BC quarterback Matt Ryan was drafted by the Falcons so it was game on!
Then Kristen got pregnant. We were the first of the BC crew to have a child on the way, and in some ways it was akin to the flickering of the lights at closing time. We signaled the end of the party days and ushered in the era of procreation, so a seismic shift in our group dynamic was afoot. It was the 2006 season when we all road tripped to a game at Florida State to root on our Eagles. Kristen wasn’t past the magical three-month marker to start spreading our big news so there was going to be a need for non-alcoholic beer at the tailgate party to fend off any suspicion.
In a covert effort to pour an O’Douls into a plastic cup for my newly pregnant wife I was busted by my friend Ted, who was like, “Heh heh. O’Douls, huh? Heh heh.” That Ted. He knew. We hadn’t even told our families yet, but Ted knew that we were going to have a baby. Since it was our first child and really, the group’s first child, the O’Douls incident seemed a remarkable transgression of privacy, like unintended nudity in a shared vacation house (also a hallmark of this crowd).
All was well though. BC won the game and Ted kept his lip zipped save for a couple of jabs throughout the day: “I guess you’ll have to see as many games as you can this year…heh heh.” And then that night, “I see you guys are heading off to bed a little early…heh heh.”
Fast forward to 2013 and so many more future Eagles have been born. When we get together now, it’s more often for a birthday party or Easter egg hunt instead of a game. The highlight reel is a series of feedings and diaper changes and temper tantrums that make actually watching a game impossible. Those of us with kids know all too well the forearm cramps from gingerly supporting the fragile head/neck apparatus our new additions come with but we have no idea what the score is. Those who do not have kids see the bags under parents’ eyes and the spit up on their shoulders and offer tentative congratulatory statements like, “good, umm…good…baby.”
So yes, we went to bed early after that Florida State game and seven years later we’re waking up some from the fog of raising two small children. Now we’re really ready for some football. Our son Elliott is a football nut and our daughter Margo likes any excuse to wear a cheerleader outfit. Our friends’ kids are a little younger and I’m sure there are more to come but what I’m saying is let’s circle up the minivans and tailgate family style! Certainly no one needs to pretend to drink a beer in front of us. We all know each other too well now and believe me mamas, once you graduate from the nausea you will be gorgeous. And perhaps the only thing more beautiful than a pregnant woman is the end result, swaddled in a Boston College onesie.