Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SPAM Killed the Cat

It was on this date in 1986 that the Colorado Buffaloes accomplished something that they had not accomplished since Dwight Eisenhower had occupied the White House. They defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Boulder. On a chilly, somewhat overcast late October afternoon during what was my second year in the land of the Flatirons, the Buffs upset the nationally-ranked Huskers 20-10. Watching my Alma mater get eviscerated by the Quack Attack of the University of Oregon this past Saturday (to the tune of 45-2 in a game that could have been two to three times as lopsided if Chip Kelly of Oregon was truly mean) it struck me just how long ago 1986 seems. A quarter-century further on up the road. A lot has changed since then.

A couple of weeks ago, Margaret unearthed for me in our basement an envelope of photographs that I have apparently been toting around since college. Pictures that I am constrained to admit I had forgotten I had. Actually I had not only forgotten that I possessed them. I had forgotten that they ever existed in the first place. Looking at them brought a smile to my face. Given that smiles are sometimes in short supply on my face - and perhaps on yours as well - I was happy to find them. Better stated, I was happy to be present when Margaret located them and wanted to entrust them to me.

My junior year I lived off campus in a cool little apartment on the main floor of a house located at 943 Broadway in Boulder. Six of us lived there including several of the usual suspects (Alex, John and Jay). At some point early on in the school year, coming to grips with the reality of feeding our fat faces with limited funds, the majority of which had been earmarked for alcohol, a couple of us (Yours truly leading the charge) broke down and bought SPAM. Yep, SPAM.

If you have never experienced SPAM, then may you continue to live a life full of luck and good fortune. If you have experienced it - especially if you have been the one responsible for extricating it from the metal container in which it is entombed - then you have had a glimpse into what it is like to be a domesticated dog. And the quality of the food inside the container? It is probably not a coincidence that ALPO and SPAM are words of identical length. Just sayin'.

Our foray into the world of SPAM was brief but not without its complications, most of which were medical in nature. SPAM does things to a person's insides that simply should not be permitted. Rumor has it that at Gitmo the final form of torture utilized on suspected terrorists was force-feeding them SPAM. No secret to this fella why waterboarding worked as well as it did.

At some point during my junior year, a group of us - including Jay and I - decided to enter the campus-wide trivia contest, which I think was known as the Varsity Trivia Bowl. If memory serves, it took place at some point during the fall semester but the likelihood of me being wrong about that it is 50%. We were a mighty quartet! Our team including not only Messrs. Bauer and Kenny but the quiet man from Fort Collins - Gregg Osterhout - and the Rangely Rifle (a/k/a "The Knowledgable (K)Nepali") Lokendra Upadhyay. We prepared for each round of the single-elimination tournament rigorously, which meant consuming a fair amount of alcohol at 943 Broadway before walking the block or two to the UMC. The competition took place in the Glenn Miller (yes - THE Glenn Miller) Ballroom.

The best thing about our team - other than our preparation - was our name. We were, "SPAM Killed the Cat, I'm Sick as a Dog". The games were emceed so everytime one of us buzzed in to answer a question, the announcer said, "SPAM" and then identified the team member attempting to answer the question by name. I know not whether the people in the crowd laughed when that happened but we surely did. Try it yourself. Say the word "SPAM" aloud and then your last name immediately therafter. You are lying if you say you did not at least crack a smile. SPAM is just one goddamned funny word.

We were actually pretty good at the whole Trivia Bowl thing. We won three rounds in a row before being vanquished in the Semi-Finals. We kicked around the idea of getting back together and trying again the following year but the idea never got off the ground. Our first attempt at it became our final attempt. It was our only attempt.

Fortunately someone served as the official photographer for the Varsity Trivia Bowl. I recall someone coming to our apartment at 943 Broadway several weeks (at least) after it ended with proofs of photographs for each member of our team and a breakdown on the cost of purchasing them ourselves. None of us bought any of them. If memory serves, the guy who peddled them wanted payment for the proofs he left with us. I presume that twenty-plus years later, he has given up any hope of receiving it.

As for us, we no longer have the sunglasses (although they came in damn handy in enabling us to hide our red eyes from the judges) and - in my case - anyway we no longer have the clean, baby-smooth faces. But through the wonders of Kodachrome we still have SPAM -or at least the signage anyway. And at day's end, what more does one really need?


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