Me And The Tree

Posted by: Tony on Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

So, it seems that we at Bears Necessity have been a little dumbstruck by the loss to OSU.  Now that my five-day hangover has finally subsided, I’m in a mood to skip right ahead to this week’s Big Game.  Earlier this week CGB invited readers to share their fondest Big Game stories.  Mine begins way back in 1996, when I was but a freshman.  

The bonfire rally was memorable because I convinced my football-loathing crush from the dorms to go with me — with sexy results.  And the game was memorable because it was my first taste of the kind of soul-crushing disappointment that would dominate my Novembers for years to come.  But most memorable was the aftermath of the game.  That was the year the Stanfurd Tree tried to march across the field, the Tree became engulfed in a sea of Blue and Gold, and the Tree became no more.

For many years, pieces of the 1996 Tree adorned the guitar amp in my dorm room, in my room at the now-defunct Le Chateau co-op, and in various New York apartments.  Each year we lost to Stanfurd.  Each year we rushed the field — with sexy results.  But I always had those “pieces of Tree” to remind me of a time when justice had been served in a ruthless and pointless fashion. 

And then a miracle happened!  The Holmoecaust ended before my eyes on a sunny Thanksgiving weekend day in New Brunswick, New Jersey and we got a new coach.  And that new coach actually won the 2002 Big Game.  And all was finally, for once and for all, right with the world.  Still, whenever I looked upon the foam and felt pieces of costumery that adorned my guitar amp, my thoughts would wonder to that poor nameless, faceless douche who had made the mistake of trying to march across our field while wrapped in foam cushion.

New York is a funny place.  It’s obviously huge and filled with millions of strangers.  But you still run into people you know all the time.  And it seems that everyone you meet has a mutual friend from college or grad school or work or whatever.  Thus in 2003 I found myself seated at dinner next to the boyfriend of my girlfriend’s new roomate (hereafter, “BOMGNR”).  This chap was a Stanfurdite.  And since I generally have nothing to say to Stanfurdites other than trash talking, I immediately told BOMGNR of the time when I and a couple thousand of my closest friends rushed the Stanfurd Tree, tore it to shreds, sent its inhabitant to the hospital, and eventually delivered pieces of it onto my guitar amp. 

While I was gleefully relating this story, BOMGNR leaned in and said something that stopped me in my tracks.  “It’s funny you should say that, because you’re going to meet the guy who was in that costume tonight.”  WHAT!?!  COMO, OTRA VEZ POR FAVOR!?!  Well, as it turned out, this BOMGNR was in a NYC-based comedy troupe (obviously, right?) with not one, but two former Stanfurd Trees — one of whom was the very tree we demolished in 1996. 

True to his word, at a house party later that night BOMGNR introduced me to my (our) erstwhile victim by saying “this is Tony, he has a piece of your tree in his room.”  Of course, the Tree had no idea what BOMGNR was talking about (he at first assumed BOMGNR was referring to the tree that grew in their Brooklyn backyard).  Details were filled in, and it slowly dawned on the Tree that I was one of his tormenters from seven years prior.  He was a good sport about the whole thing, but I felt pretty bad (at least I pretended to feel bad while actually being totally geeked by the coincidence). 

As it turned out, I went on to see the Tree at many social events and, truth be told, he was a totally rad guy.  Their comedy troupe was actually pretty hilarious (and nothing like the “comedy” gold offered up by Stanfurd halftime shows).  Ultimately, I genuinely got the sense that these Stanfurd lameasses pretty much understood their inherent inferiority to Berkeleyans.  And on that common ground, I forged a friendship with someone who had, at one time, been only a faceless repository of my rage and angst. 

Of course more years passed.  I broke up with my girlfriend.  The comedy troupe parted ways.  And the Tree moved back to California.  Cal went on to win many more Big Games.  And I never parted with those pieces of tree that, to this day, remind me of what Cal football is really about:  hating Stanfurd!


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