With just a few minutes left in the game last night, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, at home babysitting the Hope of 21st Century Civilization, Dashes 1, 2, & 3, called the Colonel as he stood in the hallowed halls of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium frantically anticipating another heartbreaking football finale, to remind him that, "It's just a game."
The Colonel's SEC brethren and sistren will have to excuse the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda for holding that blasphemous opinion. She can't possibly be expected to understand.
She went to Memphis State.
The Colonel will admit that he allows the gridiron fortunes (more often, misfortunes) of his beloved Rebels to govern his attitude far too much.
But he feels safe in the knowledge that he is in very large, if not necessarily good, company.
Ole Miss Rebel fans are a long-suffering bunch. But what keeps us coming back to fill the stands and fill the air with rebel yells, is the occasional instance when our young men play way above their heads, defy all the odds, snatch the roaring lion by its mane and roar back in teammate-loving ferocity, and win.
Last night was one of those amazing and all-too-rare instances.
Made even more amazing by the fact that a very capable Rebel defense that began the season full of promise, limped into the stadium to face one of the finest offenses in the country with more than half of its starters not available, and the other half playing hurt.
It was going to be a rout.
Should have been a rout.
The Colonel was resigned to a rout.
As the pre-kick-off cheers faded into the kudzu-clad distance, the Colonel remarked to those sitting near him,
"Whelp, that's probably the last cheering we'll do tonight."
Oh, he of little faith.
When his Rebels took an impossible 10 - 0 lead to the locker room at half-time, the Colonel still lacked even the smallest shred of faith, and remarked to those sitting near him,
"Seen this movie before."
Incredibly, a Rebel D composed of many still digesting high school cafeteria chow, held the mardi gras escapees long enough in the third quarter to allow the Rebel O to extend the lead to 17 - 0.
The Colonel's faith was still missing-in-action, but a small voice began to whisper, in his tinnitus-ravaged ear, the rumor that his faith might still be alive somewhere in a remote POW camp in Manchuria.
And, just as the Colonel began to believe in miracles, the LSU Tigers came roaring back to life.
With three minutes left in the game and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's misunderstanding reminder echoing in his tinnitus-ravaged ear, the score was 24 all and the Colonel's Rebels had the ball 75 yards away from the most implausible of victories.
He couldn't watch.
He couldn't not watch.
The Colonel was in intestinal agony.
It could have been the barbecue and jalapeno nachos he wolfed down at half-time...
And then a game-winning field-goal sailed serenely through the uprights.
Pan. De. Mo. Nium.
Mind you, the Colonel ain't much of a hugger.
But, for the next five minutes he hugged everybody in sight.
He even hugged a bewildered LSU fan to whom some traitorous Rebel season ticket holder had sold his ticket.
The Colonel and his sons (and a couple of their friends considered sons) stood in celebratory amazement as delirious Rebel fans rushed the field.
Finally, Son #2 turned to the Colonel and asked, "Hey Dad, wanna go down onto the field?"
The Colonel and his son squad made their way down the steps from their seats in the nosebleeds and arrived breathlessly at row 1.
What they saw next caught their breath.
What used to be a four foot high chain-link fence around the playing field had been replaced recently by a very impressive, and much higher, brick wall.
Son #1, true to his "throw caution to the winds" motto, hesitated not one second and vaulted over the wall to the playing surface.
Son #2, true to his "keep caution under lock and key" motto, turned to the Colonel and asked, "Want me to lower you down to the field, Dad?"
The Colonel looked down at #1, way down on the field, beckoning his progenitor to join in the frolic. The Colonel looked up at #2 standing attentively at his elbow and considered his offer.
Then a picture formed in the empty recesses of his brain-housing group -- a video of the Colonel, being lowered to the field, running every 14 minutes on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, ESPNU2, ESPNUFO...
You get the picture...
The Colonel gave a hoarse rebel yell and vaulted over the wall.
Somewhere in the 37.3 seconds it took him to fall to the turf, the Colonel simultaneously reached both terminal velocity and the conclusion that he was still going to go into ESPN video history as the old man flailing and screaming to his death at the end of the Ole Miss -- LSU game.
In the latter half of his plunge, the Colonel cobbled together enough widely separated brain-cells to remember something called a PLF -- parachute landing fall. With feet together, knees together and bent, the Colonel executed a flawless ground contact roll and sprang to his feet with arms raised in what, on ESPN4 & 1/2, probably looked like a celebration of victory, but what was in honest fact, thanks to God for His miraculous protection.
The Colonel turned to encourage #2 to follow and came nearly eye to eye with him -- still standing behind the wall.
"Dad, what are you doing!?! The wall ain't that high!"
The Colonel glared back and growled,
"It'll look a lot higher on ESPN37HD!"