Surprise, surprise! I have NOT fallen off the face of the Earth. However, I have fallen plenty of times. Some in the privacy of my home and others….well, let’s just say I am very thankful for a very merciful cameraman. Possibly several. I don’t know. I just know that I am really, really happy that You Tube was not in existence back then. Come to think of it, I don’t think America’s Funniest Home Videos was either.
I laugh about it now, but my most embarrassing moment came at the 1988 Orange Bowl game between Miami and Oklahoma who were playing for the national title. We’re talking college football’s version of the Super Bowl. Both teams undefeated. And I was the feature twirler for the University of Miami Band of the Hour.
Technically we were the “away” team because back then the “home” team was the Big 8 champion (Oklahoma) versus whoever the Orange Bowl Committee invited, but that field is where every one of our home games were played. (A moment of silence please, for the REAL Orange Bowl in whose place stands some overpriced baseball stadium.) What I didn’t know on that January night was that they marked the field up real pretty with fresh yard line paint. And the fresh stuff is slippery. So it was coming to the end of our first song and there I was, 50 yard line, gearing up for my big finish. When a twirler is about to do a 3-turn, 4-turn, whatever-turn, she plants her foot in front just before she tosses the baton. Well my foot slipped on that fresh pretty line marker, which threw off my balance and my toss. I spun on a tilted axis one way and my baton went 15 yards the other. (Good thing I didn’t clunk any trumpet players upside the head. That one might not have married me.)
I didn’t realize exactly what happened until I landed on my rear. So I rolled back, kicking one leg up, then rolled up onto my knee, flinging out my arms as if to say, “I MEANT to do that.” (Sorry, no video demo available.) I also had a few other thoughts run through my mind, most not suitable for public viewing, but there is one that stands out in my mind. I just busted my ass in front of 80,000 people, possibly 80 million (if the camera was on me). We’d better win this f***ing football game. When I came off the field, one of our graduate assistants said the most beautiful words to my ears. “The camera was not on you. It was on Andrea.” Only an openly gay male would have known to check for something like that and how desperately I needed to hear it. (God love you, Tony!) As history has gone on to show, we did win, 20-14. Okay, yeah, Coach Jimmy Johnson and that amazing group of Miami players might have had something to do with messing up Barry Switzer’s wishbone offense. But I like to think that I took one for the team and that’s why we won.
All righty then. Fess up. How have you taken one for the team?