To say that today, August 29th, is a very special day might be an understatement.
Not only is it the start of the college football season for BYU fans, but it’s one of the most important games of the year against our rivals to the north, Utah. An entire offseason has seemingly been dedicated to this very game and now the moment has arrived to see if our team is up to the task. Today is an exciting, overwhelming and emotional day.
Today, August 29th, also happens to be my wife’s birthday.
I like to think that my wife knew exactly what she was getting into the day we first met.
As curious as it might sound, our paths initially crossed at a BYU basketball game. We didn’t meet each other until after the game ended and heaven knows this was for the best, because I spent the large majority of that game against Pepperdine on my feet yelling tame profanities at the players, refs and anyone else who would hear me out. Thankfully, when we were introduced she didn’t recognize me as the lunatic who probably cared just a little too much about the outcome of a basketball game. By all appearances, I was a well-adjusted working professional that supported his alma mater in a rational manner.
As luck would have it, we started dating right at the close of basketball season and thus my emotional availability was wide open for the rest of the summer. That being the case, it was a good four months into our courtship before she was able to see the real side of my BYU fandom, one that involved a certain emotional investment that most would qualify as unhealthy.
Then football season happened.
Maintaining a relationship during the fall has always been difficult, at least for me. I wrote about these very challenges after I dated a girl who didn’t grow up watching football and was confounded by the number of hours I was able to spend consuming sports. That specific relationship was doomed from the start and its failure made the idea of convincing someone to love me from August to January seem like a daunting task.
Our first football season together was in 2016 and mercifully (for her) I attended the Arizona game with a few friends while she spent Labor Day weekend at the beach. The next game that season just so happened to be against Utah. How perfect. Our very first game watching football together was going to be one of the most emotionally charged games of the year.
Most of you recall the details and outcome of that game and we don’t need to relive those details. My behavior during the game can best be summarized by the raw emotion expressed by Coach Sitake, specifically after Kai Nacua was ejected for targeting and BYU followed up with an interception. He was going bananas and that was pretty much me during the whole game.
My then-girlfriend and now-wife? Oh, she was terrified.
Much later she recounted how she thought I was going to either A) experience a brain aneurysm, or B) break multiple pieces of furniture. To my credit, neither of these things happened and, just like the coffee table, our relationship miraculously remained intact. I did a little better job of keeping things in check and she learned to give me some space during the fourth quarter of a tight game. More than anything, it helped that she was a true BYU fan that was raised by goodly parents.
We attended the West Virginia, Mississippi State and San Diego State games together and after every game it became a little more clear to me that I was lucky to find someone like her.
Fast forward to the night of our engagement and the first thing we talked about after I asked for her hand in marriage and she said yes. We were both onboard with locking it up for time and all eternity, now we just needed to nail down a date.
My initial thought was an August wedding. We were to marry in Los Angeles and I figured having the wedding happen before Labor Day weekend would be a good idea so school schedules wouldn’t present any conflicts. This was my front, at least, as I knew that if we got married anytime after August we would be navigating the football schedule.
She, uh... did not agree. First off, working towards an August date wasn’t going to give her nearly enough time. She also lamented that having her anniversary and birthday in the same month wouldn’t be fair as I would try to kill two birds with one stone and celebrate both of those events at the same time. She read me like a book.
Once she landed on “mid-September” I whipped out my phone and quickly referenced BYU’s 2018 schedule. It looked like a potential minefield as the front-loaded schedule provided a lot of quality opponents early on. Thankfully, there was McNeese State.
The FCS opponent was going to face off against BYU in the afternoon. I figured if we played our cards right, we could have the ceremony in the morning and the reception in the evening, leaving us a perfect window to watch the game in-between. I pitched this idea, independent of the scheme to perfectly plan our wedding around a BYU game, but of course she knew exactly what I was doing.
She agreed to my scheduling arrangement, and on September 22, 2018 we watched a BYU football game and got married.
So here we are: the day of the Holy War and my dear wife’s birthday.
As you have read thus far, this woman is a saint and I give thanks every morning and evening that she tolerates my buffoonery as it relates to sports and many other aspect of my flawed existence. Back when the schedule was announced, she made it clear (or at least pretended) that the game would take priority.
The small fraction of me that is a decent human being with rational thoughts wanted to drop everything and celebrate my wife by giving her my complete and undivided attention. It would be a grand gesture that would go down in birthday lore forever.
Unfortunately for her, that part of me is only represented by a very small fraction, and fortunately for me, she’ll still tolerate me just the same if we have cake and ice cream a day later.
So this is dedicated to the one I love. My dear wife Kaitlin who has not only endured my shenanigans, but has found a way to enjoy sporting events by my side. May this birthday (which we will fully celebrate over the next couple of days, I promise) be full of love, affection and touchdown passes for our Cougs.