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Paternal - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
I'm watching Penn State play Florida State. They're in overtime, because the freshman kicker for the Nittany Lions missed a 29-yard field goal. I want Penn State to win badly, with all due respect to ACC suporter pissang, because A) their coach Joe Paterno is a former English major and remains a supporter of the humanities; B) because the Joe Paterno Professor of English is presently Michael Bérubé, one of my favorite people; C) because I'm recalling my childhood watching Penn State play on dreary egg-nog days, when they were without a conference and therefore always fighting an uphill battle for national respect; and D) because my father got his Ph.D. at Penn State and always followed them closely during my pre-teen years. I can feel our old living room, the eighteenth-century beams, the way the nail bumps of the oak flooring felt on my sock-covered feet. Florida State missed wide right while I was typing this. Penn State now has another chance to win with a long field goal. And the kicker missed again. It's a war of attrition at this point. But I know where my allegiance lies, regardless of my mild antipathy to the Big Ten. Oh, and in case you were wondering, this is not an allegory of my personal life. Or, to be more precise, it's not an allegory I'm performing consciously. I'm too well versed in the workings of the not-so-conscious to declare that there's nothing beyond the surface in my football watching.


6 comments or Leave a comment
siyeh From: siyeh Date: January 4th, 2006 05:51 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Listen to that Big Ten crowd! And they don't play as dirty as those FSU bastards.
pissang From: pissang Date: January 4th, 2006 06:04 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Those FSU bastards gave a pretty awesome Penn State team a run for their money while starting a FRESHMAN quarterback. Hey, I can't begrudge Penn State that win though. They deserved it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 4th, 2006 07:10 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Actually it's even weirder than that. JoePa was a classics major at Brown who then went on to get an M.A. in American lit -- and at one point he wrote a fan letter to Leslie Fiedler. He and I both went to Jesuit high schools in which we learned to sight-read Latin.

And we won in triple OT, so I get to keep my job for one more year.

--Michael Bérubé
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: January 4th, 2006 07:38 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I was trying to keep it modest! But it's honor to have a comment from the chair bearing his name, even if he does scowl too much. It would be weird being the George Leach Chair or the Dick Jauron Chair, wouldn't it?

yourbestfiend From: yourbestfiend Date: January 4th, 2006 05:58 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
can I just say that I love that while you're talking seriously and learnedly about football, Kim's post just below yours (on my friends page) is titled "More Vagina Art Stuff."

From: bobo_amargo Date: January 4th, 2006 07:26 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)


Wow! Great wounds wink alike.

I too remember the days when loving (US-style) football and English lit. ensemble was, for the American male, not only NOT contradictory but, in certain geographies, encouraged. Like Coach Paterno and Professor Bérubé, I also went to a Jesuit high school, in Reno, Nevada, of all places, a state in which the game of football, especially at the high-school level, was, along with voting Republican, the only game in town. While at that high school, I played football (defensive end/outside linebacker: a 3-4 arrangement that we called a 5-2) and read Melville and Shakespeare with equal vigor. Paterno was one of my heroes, along, of course, with that other Catholic luminary of the pigskin, Vince Lombardi.

I lost my religion in my early twenties (e.g., I didn't even know that Paterno was still coaching -- has he surpassed Paul "Bear" Bryant's number of wins yet?). But there is still nothing quite so poetic -- Spinoza: wisdom is aptness of body -- as a well-oiled wishbone offense (of which, as I recall, Paterno was never a great advocate).
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