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Champagne jam

This is Officer Lee Groinman,

That’s right, Washington’s Most Satisfied Cop…

It’s probably a bit classless to gloat, but I’ve never been accused of bein’ much too classy anyway, no silvery tongued devil here, no sir, so what the hell, gloat away. Yup, I could feel that USC win coming. Read my last story if you don’t believe me…

I suppose most Dawg fans can ‘feel’ it now, but it sure do feel good. The USC game Saturday may have not been the best Husky game I’ve ever seen, but it’s probably in the top five…

As it turned out I ended up sitting with a fella that had never been to Husky Stadium. Can you imagine? A Husky game day virgin, and seeing that game? Why that’d be like never seeing a car before then takin’ a ride in Corvette.

You see my buddy Arch had a bit of a bug and didn’t want to sit in the Stadium. Said he’d rather “rest” up in the parkin’ lot and let this Husky newbie take in the game. (While Archie free-loads at the various parkin’ lot tailgates).

Arch calls me at work. “Hey Lee, this guy is real cool. He’s the bass player in our band, well, we’re trying to sign him. This game could seal the deal.” I asks Arch. “Is the guy any good?”  “Damn Lee, you know the Atlanta Rhythm Section right? He plays just like Paul Goddard. You see Lee, the bass is the weak link in our band. Our bass player sucks rocks. They even tried me at bass, I play it sure, but I’m not much better. I need to stay on the drums, dang Lee, you should check us out sometime. Our lead singer plays a mean guitar and is she HOT! Guys pay just to see her sing. But we really need to sign this guy. We could be big time.”

Archy continues, “Lee, I’ll pay you back. You with your radio connections and with you being a classy silvery-tongued devil, you could land us this guy…”

 I guess I didn’t tell you last week that Arch was a drummer in a band, kinda’ like Dave “Dawgman” Samek. I didn’t see the need to tell ya’, didn’t see the need for Arch to be bangin’ on my dashboard all the way over to Seattle either, but there you have it…

So I agree to take on another green hand to Husky Stadium. I just finished my usual swing shift gig at the prison. I washed my rig in the dark, pack her up, and managed to get four hours sleep. Well, I laid down for four hours anyway. You see, I could feel the big win comin’, and sleep was unlikely at best…

The three of us meet up at 7 am at the pre-determined destination. There’s one thing Arch forgot to tell me.  Oh sure, he told me that this guy played like Paul Goddard,  of the Atlanta Rhythm Section (ARS), he just forgot to add that he looked like Paul Goddard of the Atlanta Rhythm Section. You see, Paul Goddard is a bit on the big side. Probably the largest bass player in the world, well this guy was for sure, the largest bass player at this pre-determined destination…

“Hey Lee, this is Erik.” “Hi Erik,” I shook his hand. He had a big beefy paw. “Erik” gave me a sideways grin. I’d seen him before, horn-rimmed glasses and all. I once did security at a ARS show in Seattle. “Erik” then grabbed my other hand with his other over-sized paw. I wondered how in the world could he play the bass with paws of size? My next thought was how in the world is this guy gonna fit in my rig? If he fits, could we close the door? My third thought was that this guy would take up to two or three seats at Husky Stadium…

 What am I gonna do, sit in his lap?

“No worries there Lee! I’ll just hop in the back here.” Archy jumps into the back seat, spies the coolers, “Hey, ya’ got any cold ones in here?”

Yup, I could feel it. I could feel it’d be a long day…

“Erik” stuffs himself into the passenger seat after Arch had secured his place in the back. “Erik”sucks in his breath as he closes the door, it latched. Arch looked relieved, he handed me a green wad as he inventoried the coolers…

“Here’s the couple of twenties from last week Lee, it should cover the gas and stuff, but wait. You got no tailgate pops!”

I pull into the Safeway gas station. I put one twenty into the tank. ‘Erik’ and Archy are looking at me like two lost puppies, as I top off my tank. After a few moments, I toss the other twenty to “Erik”. He took to it like a Dawg after a bone and waddled into the Safeway store.

So now we’re finally properly prepared for the pregame festivities.

I felt like the driver for Stanly and Ollie, of Laurel and Hardy. All they needed was a couple of derby hats and bow-ties. “Another fine mess Stanley….”

Yup, I could feel it…

“Erik” stuffs a CD into the player. Well who knew? He’s playin’ air bass to Atlanta Rhythm Sections’ classic “Champagne Jam.”

“If we end up in jail, we don’t give a damn

We’re gonna have us a Champagne Jam…”

The tailgate we had was just average, we are still a work in progress at this point in the season. The weather was a bit wet at times, not too bad, nuthin’ like the “Hurricane” game we had with SC back in the day, back when the toilets in Husky Stadium had white caps, oh those were the days…

But what a game.  I think Donald Butler’s tackle for loss at the end of the half was the play of the day for the entire country, what a play. “Erik” did fit into a seat or two, he managed to high five me at will during the “Drive”. I couldn’t help but remember the 1981 game, when Chuck Nelson hit the 48 yard field goal to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, then on the following kick off, the ball got loose in the end zone. Fred Small (RIP) covers the loose ball. Bob Rondeau screamin’ “TOUCH DOWN WASHINGTON!!

13-3, Dawgs…Dang, has it really been 28 years since that epic W? My how time do fly. You know we were sttin’ right over there, right above the tunnel…

That, I do believe was the finest moment in Husky Stadium history, well at least in the top five….

The Dawgs now take the field for the final 4:01 of the 2009 USC game. The “Drive” as we now know it. At times I could not take it. The 21 and 19 yard passes to Kearse, nearly popped me an ulcer, make that two uIcers. I didn’t want to watch Erik Folk’s game winnin’ field goal.  Erik? In the back of my mind I kept thinkin’ someone would falter, someone might celebrate, someone might just drop the ball, muff the snap. Block the kick. We’ve all seen it before. But I had to watch that kick, keep the demons away that way. There it is, the kick is good! But why did we leave 3 seconds on the clock? Why? Just enough time to let the demons back in, the demons of our haunted past.

But no, the past is just that, the past. It’s a new day in Dawg Town…

Folk squibs the kick, SC does their best Cal Bear imitation, but we’ve got no band on the field, and they threw a forward lateral any. Ball dead, game over. Dawgs win.

A classic for all Dawg fans.

Driver’s seat for the Rose Bowl…

Why not? Can’t you feel it?

I didn’t make the ‘on field’ celebration, maybe later when we actually clinch something. I do remember being on the field one night at Martin Stadium after one particular Apple Cup win. Good Dawg Almighty. That game was an epic one for the ages, well at least in the top five. Yeah that was the game where the Dawg fans had stormed the field after the win. We got kinda’ caught up in the flow of things, and well when in Rome…Yeah, I can see it clearly now, that’s when some guy who looked like Dawgman was trying to hoist some guy who looked like Fetters up and onto the goalpost, while some guy who looked like Grinolds was fumblin’ with his camera case.  And then the cougs got into the act. They started throwin’ water bottles in my general direction filled with golden fluid. Why I’m not sure if it was in appreciation of my fine police work, or was for my writin’ skills, well, with coog logic, who can tell…But that’ a horse of a different stripe…

But my, how I do digress…

So we are makin’ our way back out to my rig for the post game celebration. I seem to have left “Erik” back in the dust. I seem to be in a higher gear, on a higher plane if you will. It might not have been too ‘classy and silvery-tongued’ of me, but my throat was raw and in need of attention. I exit the Stadium, pure joy reigns.

“Next up for SC?” I yell.


A couple of SC fans grimace, the Husky fans around me have a puzzled look on their faces, oh well...

Back at the rig, Arch looks rather, well let’s say he’s lookin’ well rested

Arch had been moochin’ off a few other non-stop tailgates. There was one near us complete with a generator and large screen TV.

“Lee you ain’t gonna believe it! I met Jake Locker’s dog! Jake’s mom was walking right by here! She got so nervous she couldn’t watch the final “Drive”. She took Jake’s dog for a walk instead! Jake’s grandma was here too! The three of them came right thru here Lee, and I got to met Jake’s dog! Guess what his name is Lee! Ten!”

“Dang Arch, you didn’t have Ten sign your ticket?” “Oh damn, Lee! I didn’t have a ticket!!”

“But what’s better Lee is this! Ten pissed on your chrome wheel right there Lee! That means he likes us, we’ve been marked! And oh, I nearly forgot! I taught Jake Locker’s dog Ten to shake! Right there by that chrome wheel!”

“Lee, this is a day I’ll never forget…”

Yeah, and I suppose I’ll never wash that chrome wheel either…

Well as soon as the fella’s parked next to us got settled down, they broke out a case of cold champagne on ice. I guess they could feel it too…They came over and filled our cups. I always like to quote a Bible scripture whenever our Dawgs post a win of Biblical proportions, well maybe not Biblical proportions, but probably in the top five. Yup, our “Cups over-flowed with joy.” We then put on Atlanta Rhythm Section’s “Champagne Jam” back into CD player.

Guess you could say we were all feelin’ it…

And the song goes somethin’ like this…

“Come on momma, give me a break.

Me and the boys gonna stay out late.

I can’t help it, it’s in my bones,

We’ll be jammin’ all night long.

Champagne jam, champagne jam…

We’re gonna have us a champagne jam…

Thank ya’ ma’am.”

Guess I better call the wife…

Now maybe it’s time for some Bachman Turner Overdrive. Maybe some

 “Takin’ Care of Bidness.”

The Tree falls, can you feel it?


Lee Groinman can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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