Paul Showalter, retired Navy man living in Lawrence with wife Peggy, is determined to gain admission to tonight's big game in Bramlage Coliseum.
"I may have to go up and stand on the corner with my finger in the air," Showalter said.
Why should you care whether he finds a ticket? If you're not superstitious, you shouldn't. If you are superstitious and rooting for Kansas to extend its Manhattan dominance over Kansas State to 25 games, you should hire a limo driver to make sure the man pictured to the right makes it safely and soundly, ticket in hand, to the big game.
Showalter first attended a KU-Kansas State road game Feb. 25, 1984. He hasn't missed one in Manhattan since.
"I was invited to go to the first one by Bob Nelson, aka The Old Jayhawk," Showalter said. "He said, 'How about the K-State game?' I said, 'Oh, I don't know.' He said, 'You ought to go to old Ahearn (Fieldhouse.)' It was quite an experience. Older than I expected it to be. Smaller than I expected it to be. Fun time."
Peggy has joined Paul for most, though not all, of the games. Their license plate, "2KUFANS," the lawn sign, the big sign on the door and the gear they often wear to games advertises their loyalty, home and away.
"I usually have something that has a Jayhawk on it," he said. "A shirt or a jacket with a Jayhawk."
He paused, thought about whether to go there, and then went there.
"They are not our problem in visiting arenas," he said of the Wildcats.
How much you want to bet Don Fambrough just straightened up in his chair, his blood beginning that familiar quick trip to his face?
"Sure, there are a few who get a little upset, but usually it's, 'Hi, glad you're here. We're going to get you this time.' Nothing really belligerent or nasty," he said in a way that made it clear his reflections were about to take a sharp eastward turn. "They're not in Missouri's class, that's for sure."
Oh no? Do tell.
"I have an appointment for my car at the body shop," he said. "I went to the Missouri game (Jan. 19). They saw our license plate and decided to knock some pieces out of my grill. That is above and beyond called for. I don't care how hot the rivalry is. That just doesn't cut it."
No it doesn't. After all, it's a game. In tonight's case, a big, big Big 12 game, the first time since 1958 they play each other when both teams are ranked. KU is No. 2, K-State No. 22.
Remember, should you see the man pictured above standing on a corner in Manhattan, finger raised in the cold air, he's not making a statement as to where Kansas should be ranked. He's trying to buy a ticket. Proceed past him at your own risk.
"I have yet to score a basket," he said, laughing off the good-luck-charm angle.
Don't listen to him. What does he know? He probably stepped on the cracks of the sidewalk he shoveled Tuesday afternoon.