Bleeding Colors Other than Red

In blogging about community, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, on this weekend in particular, the thread of “community” that ties this part of the country together.

But first, let me take a brief detour.

About a year ago, walking across campus on a sunny afternoon, I was stopped on the sidewalk by two undergrads with a video camera, who were doing a project for their communications course. “Will you answer a question for us?” they asked. “It will only take a few seconds.” I agreed.

“All we need you to do is introduce yourself and then tell us where you’re going to be watching the game tomorrow night.”

The camera rolled. “Hi, I’m Elizabeth. I won’t be going anywhere to watch the game tomorrow night.”

“So you’ll just watch it at home?”

“Um, no.”

“You won’t be watching the game?”

“Well, I didn’t even know there was a game tomorrow night.”

Let’s just say it wasn’t the answer they were expecting.

Fast forward to last week, two Thursday nights ago, 8:30 pm. My boss at the writing center says to me, “So, Elizabeth, watching the big game tomorrow?”

“What game?”

“That’s funny. What game.”

Like I was making a joke.

Yesterday on my way through Lexington, I saw UK flags magnetically attached to quite a few vehicles, on everything from a gas-guzzling (not that I’m judgmental) Hummer to the beat-up, are-you-sure-that’s-been-inspected sort of vehicles. You see, apart from the horse industry, which brings together people on disparate ends of our socio-economic system here in the Bluegrass, there’s an even stronger bond that connects folks from all over the state, from horse country to coal country to the we-like-to-think-of-ourselves-as-midwest country.

That bond, of course, is UK basketball. And tonight, I happen to know, since I don’t live under a rock, is a very big game.

I only own one UK shirt, which was (of course) free, but yesterday I wore it down to campus as a show of solidarity with all of the people who care about these things. It says “Writing makes things happen!” on the back, rather than, say, “Go Cats!” or, even better, “Haters love us” and that’s okay with me.

It didn’t surprise me that all of my appointments at the writing center yesterday were sporting UK gear.

Just now I glanced out the window up here in my little town and a neighbor boy is wearing a UK shirt.

I’ve learned that if I run to the bank on a game day or the day of an important press conference, the receptionists are all wearing UK sweatshirts and they even have the TV on, right there in the middle of the bank.

I realize that if you’ve never been to Kentucky during basketball season, it’s easy for you to assume that this is all a bunch of hubbub. Sure, ANY team that is doing well has a lot of support behind it. Sure, fans are crazy everywhere. (As mentioned before, I’m married to a Steelers fan, so I know how crazy things can be.)

But this is different folks. I promise.

When they say they “bleed blue,” they don’t think they’re being metaphorical.

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