I know mine isn't the only family that bleeds crimson and blue, but from oldest to youngest, we revere the Jayhawks. Mom is the most rabid basketball fan -- and in her younger years was the best athlete -- among us. The girls' basketball team on which she starred in high school played throughout Central Oklahoma. Her small school's mascot was the Bluejay. Blue. Jay. Pretty prophetic, huh?
Mom is so wrapped up in Jayhawk roundball that Greg -- who does a pretty fair imitation of Coach Roy Williams -- called his grandmother before a playoff game pretending to be the Big Guy thanking her for her support. Had he not awakened her from a nap, Mom wouldn't have been fooled. But, for a minute or so, she was and Greg felt pretty darn awful about it. When Coach Williams was apprised of the prank gone awry, he sent Mom a nice note. And did Mom believe that note actually came from him? No she did not! "Once fooled, twice shy." (Grams always used that expression. Will someone please tell me what it means?)
Grandson Gabe, at the age of 20 months, made cheering for the Jayhawks a religious experience and amused those within hearing distance at church during recitation of the Profession of Faith. When Gabe started chanting in unison with the congregation, Greg and Val were proud and amazed that he'd learned the ritual at such an early age. "However," Greg says, "as his voice grew louder, we realized that what he was chanting wasn't the Profession of Faith at all, but `Roooock Chaaaalk Jaaaayhaaaawk, Kaaaay Yooooouuuu!'"
I thought I might need heavenly intervention when, in the middle of my physical exam a couple of years ago, a nurse came into the examination room and said, "We want you to come see your x-rays." Hypochondriac that I am, I immediately assumed the worst. Quaking, I watched them put the slide in front of the light box and there in the middle of my chest -- proudly silhouetted against the bones and soft tissues -- was a perfect little Jayhawk. Fortunately, I hadn't swallowed it. When I put on the gown in preparation for the x-ray, I neglected to take off the chain holding my gold Jayhawk charm.
Ray and I always wear our Jayhawk clothing when we're traveling. It's a great ice-breaker and gets us lots of attention, most -- but not all -- of it positive. I still remember the time I was wearing my red "Beak 'm Hawks" sweatshirt in Las Vegas when a scowling man, full of the devil and Jack Daniels, approached me and growled, "Are you making fun of my Seattle Seahawks?"
Two of my Jayhawk visors developed wings and flew off in successive years in Vegas, but the one I briefly abandoned on the bus didn't get away. When I realized I had left the visor in the seat, Ray tried to get back on the bus to retrieve it but the driver wouldn't allow him to board. However, before the bus had traveled two blocks, I was on the phone with a central bus dispatcher who contacted the driver by radio. Ray thought it was silly to go to that much trouble to get it back, but I try to not exceed more than two lost visors per city.
The summer after Kansas University won the 1988 NCAA Basketball Championship, we took a tram to the top of a mountain in Estes Park. Both Ray and I were wearing our "The Hawks Spread their Wings when the Fat Lady Sings!" T-shirts. We lost count of the many thumbs-up signs and congratulations bestowed on us by fellow tourists. They obviously thought that we were personally responsible for the win over Oklahoma so we didn't bother to explain that the "sixth man" never scored a point.
If you think jeans are a big item in Moscow, you should try wearing Jayhawk print shorts in Mexico! Ray still talks about the time a Mayan gentleman tried to buy his shorts right off him on the streets of Cancun. When that effort failed, the man communicated that, in lieu of Ray's shorts, he'd accept his Jayhawk ballcap.
He didn't get that either. Good thing, too, because when Ray wore the cap the next day on a short ocean cruise, it helped us learn that 18 of the 60 people on board had a KU/Lawrence connection. Cliches are cliches because they're true: It really is a small world ... especially when you're garbed in Jayhawk clothing.
-- Marsha Henry Goff is a free-lance writer in Lawrence. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.