The rivalry between Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia is special, and especially for anyone who went to either of those schools, it’s big. And it’s fun.
I went to Virginia Tech, and for as long as Dylan has known anything about college, he has loved UVA and wanted to go there. And that is A-okay.
This year, I have cheered along with Dylan while his Cavaliers have gone 27-1 so far and maintained a Number Two ranking in the country. And he has cheered along with me as my Hokies have gotten themselves to a tie for last place in the ACC. They are not well matched this season, but don’t get me wrong. There has been plenty of good-natured ribbing.
Dylan: Tech can’t even win a game!
Yeah, that’s low. But they don’t leave a lot of room for trash talk.
The first Tech – UVA meeting this season was a nail biter that came down to the last seconds. Oh, to have been there! The final was UVA by three. At our house, it was standing room only in front of the tv, and tense.
Their second meeting was in Charlottesville this past Saturday, and Matt surprised me and Dylan with tickets the day before. So exciting! I immediately got out my VT sock monkey hat, and then I told Dylan his lucky shirt was dirty, and all his other UVA apparel was lost.
And then, because I’m really not that mean, I put it all in the washing machine.
As we drove into Charlottesville on Saturday, Dylan started to squirm. “I can’t believe we are here in this car,” he said.
“Why?” I asked.
He looked at me like I had two noses, and rolled his eyes. “Hokie tags,” he said.
As we got closer, we saw a steady stream of blue and orange foot traffic heading toward John Paul Jones arena. He looked over at my maroon sweatshirt. “I’m kind of embarrassed for you to wear that here,” he said.
I smiled. “I brought the sock monkey hat too.”
“I know,” he sighed, “Are you really going to cheer for them?”
Two old guys stared at my hat in the parking garage, and when we joined the blue-orange walking express, someone on the street honked at me. When we got inside, someone who worked for the school took a photo of us. And I reveled in it all.
We took our seats, and in our entire section I only saw three other maroon shirts. Even though the whole first half went pretty well for us few, we were quiet. Hey, nobody expected it to last.
I made good use of that lead as long as we had it, giving Dylan as many gloating sidelong glances and elbow jabs as I could. (Being so outnumbered, I stuck to silent revelry).
During halftime (UVA by three), I went to the restroom and in line in front of me was a very nice looking lady, older than me, who I would’ve pegged as a businesswoman. Her hair was meticulous, and her make up was just-so. She was wearing a crisp, button-down white shirt, a long beaded necklace that looked more amber-and-sapphire-jewelry than orange-and-blue-fan-wear, and dress denim pants. Then I noticed her shoes. She was wearing pointed-toe blue cowboy boots dotted with with bright orange V’s. Oh, she was serious.
She turned to me, looked down at my Virginia Tech sweatshirt with disapproval, and then back to my face. She made a circle in the air with her pointer finger and stopped in front of my shirt. “I have one of those,” she said.
Considering her boots, I was guessing she wasn’t talking about my sweatshirt and apparently she sensed my confusion.
“Hokie,” she said with a look of defeat, “I have a Hokie.” Her tone on that last word might’ve been the same if she’d said, “I have a foot fungus.”
I laughed out loud. “If it makes you feel better, I’m here with a Cavalier,” I said, “Well, he’s not one yet, but he wants to be. He’s wearing the shirt, anyway.”
She smiled and shook her head. “Well mine is one already. She’s graduating this year,” she said, “That’s how it goes, you know. God gives us just what we deserve, doesn’t He?”
The daughter came out of a stall and made a face at her mother. Her mother looked at me and sighed. I laughed again. I think she might be taking her family’s split loyalty a little harder than I am.
In the second half, Virginia did what they always do. They scored points. They kept us from scoring. And they won.
Then Dylan got to gloat.
And that’s alright. I can dish it out and take it.
We left through the apparel shop, and I asked Dylan if he wanted to look for a new shirt to wear to the ACC Tournament in a couple of weeks. He grinned and said, “I’ll get a new shirt if you get one too.”
I struck a ta-da pose. “I already have a nice shirt,” I said.
Dylan likes the ribbing and taunting that goes along with supporting opposing teams, but if given a choice, he prefers being on the same side. “No, I want you to get one too,” he said.
The truth is, I like it when we’re on the same side too. “Which one should we get?” I asked.
He chose our shirts, and we headed home. This was mine.
Of all the shirts. Really. Talk about adding insult to injury.
I thought about what the blue-boot restroom lady said, and although I don’t think it was exactly what she was aiming at, I guess considering the threat of sabotaging his clothes, the embarrassment of the sock monkey hat, the elbowing, and all the faces I made, that shirt was maybe just what I deserved.
And when the tournament rolls around, I will wear it and we can be on the same team. This time.
I love that kid a lot. Go Hoos, go.