Florida Gators Win (I Think): A Tale Of Lost Whimsy

Jennifer JulaContributor ISeptember 5, 2010

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 04:  Quarterback Trey Burton #13 of the Florida Gators is tackled by Mike Johns #94 of the Miami University RedHawks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 4, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida. Florida beat Miami 34-12. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

I thought I had entered the real world when I graduated from the University of Florida a few years back, but I was wrong.

I was thoroughly  convinced I had reached the real world when I graduated from UF, for a second time, last May.   But again, I was mistaken.

I really had a notion that I had entered the real world when, well, I started doing these big people things like searching for serious employment, balancing a serious relationship, and paying for my seriously jacked up broken molar (If getting a $1,200 crown doesn’t signal adulthood, I don’t know what does), but still, I was wrong

No. It wasn’t until today, as I watched the gators opening game in a city that is not Gainesville, in a bar in total compliance with all fire code regulations, and drinking beer served in what I believe was a glass, that the pangs of my seemingly adult existence hit me.    

What can I say, the past few years of Florida football have been a fantasy.  Even when it wasn’t perfect, there was still an aura of perfection.  Every single play had the potential of being something you’d talk about for ages.  Every single game, Providential.   And ergo, every single conversation concerning every single one of these events,  potentially the last words ever uttered to your friends who believe there are more important things than Gator football, and who therefore believe you are crazy (Who really needs those friends anyways?  Are they even real?).

But today.. today may have been the beginning of a great season.  But it also marked the end of a dream.  The broken image of a childhood illusion.  Like the day you discovered  the easter bunny wasn’t real, or that moment you realized that the use of  9 reindeer for transcontinental flight would violate various FAA standards.

Those EIGHT fumbles by the gators...those gave me visions of my childhood disillusionment with the tooth fairy.  I would place my newly dislodged incisor under my pillow only to wake up and see it still there, untouched.  Had the tooth fairy really forgotten me?  Again, it would go under my pillow. Again I would awake penniless.  (My parents would eventually buy me off by leaving me a twenty on my nightstand long after the tooth had already been lost and discarded, much like the way a few timely interceptions by the Gator defense  compensated for the stark reality of a world without tooth fairies, errr, I mean, Tim Tebow)

That should-have-been-a-safety-but-the-refs-must-hate-people-from-ohio play... that reminded me of the jarring discovery that the moon landing was a hoax (ok ok, maybe that one is still up for debate, but in a world where a man named ‘Jimbo’ is coaching one of the biggest football teams in the nation, I question our intellectual and scientific progress as a society on the whole)

That final fluky touchdown pass by John Brantley to make the score look a little less paltry...well, that was like learning where babies come from.  As a kid, it really is just confusing and sort of awkward, but eventually you mature and.....no, no... it’s always  confusing and awkward.  But there's just something about scoring....

I’m pretty sure the gators just put me through all 8 stages of Erik Erickson’s psychosocial stages of development.   

It isn’t that this new sense of adulthood is bad.  Like my future, I have a rather sincere confidence that the Gators will have a stellar season (yet only a slight certainty that I’m not delusional)

Still, it seems that the magic is lost.  The fairy dust has gone stale and the potion soured.

But just because the presents arrive via FedEx doesn’t make Christmas any less awesome. Nor does it even mean Santa Clause isn’t real...

...he just now happens to live in Denver.