Alcohol, desperation, and hope filled the air as WSU kicker Erik Powell lined up a 43-yard field-goal attempt. The Cougs were trailing 30-28 with the hope of knocking off their first top-10 program in over a decade. The ball thudded off of Powell’s leg and sailed to the outskirts of Pullman; it did not go through the uprights.
WSU had lost their epic homecoming battle, and yet, I already felt like I had won that night.
This story begins like it does for many other fans throughout college football history. My buddy Levi and I began that afternoon drinking countless beers and looking forward to the festivities ahead.
There is something special about Halloween in the Palouse. Muscle-tanked frats bros, SpongeBob SquarePants, and scantily clad sorority girls all take the streets in below-freezing temperatures.
The party energy is felt through the crisp air; it’s contagious. Mother Teresa may even consider chugging a Busch Light on this breathtaking occasion.
Levi and I started our adventure guzzling beers in either his dorm room or my apartment. (details blurry) Amid our usual “that’s what she said” and “sister jokes” we could both feel this night was going to be something special.
It’s not everyday you get Halloween, homecoming, and a top-10 football opponent rolling into town on the same evening.
Before setting out on our adventure I put on my huge raincoat, UPS brown beanie, and finger-tight gloves to combat the frigid conditions. Levi prepared his usual gameday whiskey flask, and we were off, ready to embrace the fun-loving exuberant atmosphere.
Next to Martin Stadium, home of the Cougs, is a beer garden where WSU’s students, faculty, and alumni share libations before kickoff. We grabbed a couple more beers and were ready to go.
We sipped these beverages at a more responsible pace, and then made our way to the metallic bleachers.
However, sometime during the first quarter, I reached down into my big open front jacket pocket and realized that my wallet was missing. Sobriety set in quickly.
I realized I was in a college football stadium and that my money was gone. No more Hallo-weekened for me. The game quickly became an afterthought as my demeanor turned from a drunken stupor to a worrying panic.
I searched the entirety of the venue, asking whomever if they had seen a missing wallet, but obviously, it was gone. I couldn’t believe my luck… I knew it was over.
As I carefully walked back up the stairs to our bleachers, I told Levi I couldn’t find it with a sad and pleading look on my face. Without my asking, he volunteered the search-and-rescue mission, but I knew it was no use. He was just trying to lift my spirits.
About ten minutes later he walked up the chilled stairs with a grin on his face. He says, “you’re going to love me.” Magically, he found it. Apparently the first yellow ponchoed employee he asked had my billfold.
I’m not sure why the employee handed it over to Levi, considering it didn’t have his ID in it. But I didn’t care, the party was back on.
I could now refocus my energy back to the ecstatic atmosphere and enjoy the rest of Halloween.
As a thank you, I offered to buy us each two foamy beers at halftime, and we returned to the refreshment garden. This time we didn’t focus on the game, our conversations switched to the brotherhood of the traveling wallet.
We returned to the bleachers at the beginning of the third quarter in a closely contested matchup. This was the first year that WSU football had been good in quite some time, and an upset against the Cardinal would’ve likely propelled the Cougs into the top 25.
Just as I was about to hone back in on the game, I reached down into that breezy front-coat pocket again. I felt around to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind, but I wasn’t.
I couldn’t believe it… now my phone was missing!
I embarrassingly looked over to Levi who frustratingly says “Nick, are you serious?” but he then added, “Do you want me to go look for it?”
A distraught me said yes, but there was no way he could do it twice. A phone is even more likely to dissipate into thin air than a wallet.
About ten minutes later he walks back up those clanky stairs with a sad look on his face, I couldn’t blame him. It wasn’t his fault my front pocket and I were in the middle of a divorce. He’d already done his good duty as a friend.
But then out of nowhere…he whips out my phone.
I smiled like a kid on Christmas who just got his first video game console. Like c’mon man, how is that even possible?
Statistically speaking, it is probably like a one-in-a-million chance that he was able to find both of these essential items. But somehow, he did it.
I asked him where my phone was, and he calmly responds, “In the chairs we were sitting at in the beer garden.”
There are no words; there are no FRICKING words. For the rest of the night he held onto my possessions, and we watched tooth and nail while the Cougs battled for supremacy.
We were ready to storm the field as Powell lined up for the game-winning kick. Our feet would not touch the artificial turf that evening.
But as is the beauty of college, we were still going to live it up amid the darkness.
We roamed the costumed cladded students of Greek Row and eventually found our way to a keg party. As we were getting ready to further indulge, the apparatus wouldn’t pump, and the festivities ceased.
This time I calmly looked at Levi and said, “This is your night.” Without further prompting, he knew what to do.
Needless to say, we drank for free that Halloween