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Who says love and sports don't mix?

February 07, 2002

Who says love and sports don't mix?



Elizabeth Ann Dean came into my life on this day one year ago.

I was walking out of the Hagerstown Community College library after checking e-mail when to my right, sitting at another computer, Elizabeth - everyone calls her Liz - caught my eye. Being in the library in the first place was unusual for me. Stopping to talk to a gorgeous girl was beyond unusual. Amazing, stunning, flabbergasting ... those words would all work.

Our first date was on Valentine's Day. We went to Hagerstown Billiards and played pool. Nothing fancy. I didn't call it a date, I called it "hanging out." She knew better. I guess giving a girl flowers AND a basket from Bath and Body Works is an obvious hint.

(For the record, Liz isn't much of a pool player. Also for the record, I'm even worse.)

Our second date was nine days later, and past that point, we were friends. Then best friends. Then boyfriend and girlfriend. Stay tuned by reading Section C in Saturday's newspapers ...

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What does this have to do with sports? Think about it. If you're a guy reading this column, you probably read the sports page with some degree of regularity. Which means you are a sports fan. Which means you've probably had a similar conversation with your significant other to the one Liz and I had one Sunday morning in early September:

Liz: So what do you want to do today?

Dan: I was going to go to the bar with the guys and watch football.

Liz: You mean you'd rather watch football than spend time with me?

Aside from "Now that I think about it, I would rather spend time with you, honey," and then sacrificing the game to spend the rest of my day with Liz, there was no right answer to this question. I knew that. However, what I failed to understand is there are plenty of WRONG answers better than this: "I can see you any time. Football's just on Sundays."

Open mouth. Insert foot.

Liz and I have a blast together. At restaurants there are numerous times when we wind up laughing loud enough to turn heads ... and we like it that way.

But I'm a sports fan ... sports lunatic is more accurate ... and Liz is most definetly not.

There's nothing wrong with that. But it made Sundays a dicey issue. One week I'd go to the bar with the guys, the next week I'd make it up to Liz, sometimes via a dinner or a movie, and on the rare occasion both.

(One week, I took Liz to the bar. The cigarette smoke got to her and football just isn't her thing, so that particular compromise lasted one week.)

Now that it's February, football has been replaced by Maryland basketball, of which I'm an even more diehard fan. This, of course, causes Liz fits when I want to watch the Terps.

So what did my girlfriend do? Surprise me with an early birthday present - tickets to see the Terps play Florida State on Jan. 26.

It was my first time inside Cole Field House, and also my last with the Terps moving into the Comcast Center next season. By the end of the game (a convincing Terps win), cheering along with 14,498 of the 14,499 in attendance, I had Maryland's favorite chant down cold ... you know, the borderline profane one that accompanies Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll, Part 2."

The other person, of course, was Liz. She stayed seated most of the game, except to take the occasional picture. Her eyes took in the whole strange, curious, wondrous scene while in her mind she must have wondered why I loved it all so much.

I'm not sure I'll ever convert Elizabeth Ann Dean into the same kind of sports lunatic I am, and that's OK. I love her, anyway.

So here's to another year mixing love with sports, however dicey it may be. I wouldn't want it any other way.

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