Monday, January 19, 2009

A Sunday of Church, Chili's, Vandy. . .

Last week, for numerous reasons I was looking forward to Sunday (i.e., yesterday's Sun.) more eagerly than usual. And wouldn't you know? It turned out even better than anticipated!

Arriving early at church -- a sure sign of my eagerness -- I found my Vanderbilt Alumni coffee mug, got myself a filling of the java stuff, and proceeded to converse with anybody and everybody who cared to chat. I then attended a special session of Sunday School for new members of Eastwood Christian Church (Disciples), which was mostly about how Eastwood functions and how we as new members can fit into the church community. Pastor Jay led this, and did a fine job; afterward I felt even more "fired up" about participating in this outstanding spiritual family!

Since I still hadn't been able to attend choir practice on Wednesday evenings due to work, I didn't know what we'd be singing for an anthem until I perused a copy of the worship bulletin while sipping the Vandy mug of coffee mentioned above. It was unfamiliar to me, but a Fannie Crosby-composed piece. And I'll gladly sing Crosby any time! As it turned out, the piece was not difficult, and again I felt blessed to be part of our choir singing it. Afterward, as usual, I changed out of my choir robe and sat out in the congregation (the better to hear the sermon; the chancel is "dead" space when it comes to listening to someone unless they're directly facing you in the chancel). And Pastor Jay gave a great sermon, a lot of which expressed very positive things about the members of Eastwood Christian Church. The things he said are much like my experience of and response to the folk at ECC -- I almost wanted to shout, "Amen!" several times.

Now, last Sunday Del Dorr had asked me about having Sunday dinner with him somewhere right after church the next Sunday (yesterday's Sun.). I'd accepted, and then later realized that we'd be limited in where to eat, by the fact that I had tickets to the Vanderbilt women's basketball ("Lady Commodores") game beginning at two that afternoon. But not to worry! The two of us ended up being invited to join some other church folks for dinner and then a ride to the game. Del gained admission via my extra ticket.

We ate at Chili's on West End across from the Vandy campus. I usually eat Sunday dinner solo, which I don't mind much. But it sure was terrific to have five brothers & sisters from church with whom to share food and conversation! And let me tell you, Bob Frech, who sat on my right is a great talker. The conversation among all six of us roamed thru several topics, such as our associations with Vandy, folks at church and the upcoming Super Bowl that wouldn't include our beloved Titans.

And then we topped it all off by going to a basketball game together!

I think the only time I'd been at an athletic contest on the Vanderbilt campus since I last lived in Nashville (1984-91) was a men's basketball game where the Governors of Austin Peay State University in Clarksville visited VU's Memorial Gym. (We were living in C'ville at the time, and I worked at APSU.) It was oh, so good to get back in that magical place -- and Vandy alumni & fans DO speak about the "Memorial Gym magic". How even when the Commodores are huge underdogs or hosting a number one team they'll still win in the home confines of Memorial.

Well, it was neither homey nor pretty for THIS contest, at first. During the first period the Lady 'Dores played poorly, and couldn't seem to make any baskets. They were lucky to be ahead by one point at the half (after trailing most of the first period). However, during the second half the gals in black and gold quickly widened the lead. Then they kept a decent margin over the visiting women of LSU all thru the final period. Del and I, whose tickets were for seats on the second level to one side, came down at the half to sit behind the others from ECC, who were at floor level behind the visitors seats. Or more exactly, we were sitting behind the goal there.

You see, Memorial Gym has the distinctive if not unique layout, that the teams sit along the ends of the court rather than at the side. Also, the playing floor is actually higher up than the first row or two of seats on either side (but not the end rows). This may explain in part the "magic" of the place that favors Vanderbilt athletes; surely this configuration throws off visiting athletes at least some. As it must have thrown off the women from LSU. Final score: Vandy Lady 'Dores 75, LSU 67.

If at the start the women VU students handling the round ball weren't performing so pretty, the pep band students certainly were making up for them. The musicians were eye-catching as well as ear-pleasing in their performance! Before, during and after the game. Not only did they play plenty of tunes that had yours truly and a few others in the audience clapping to the beat, but they often did choreography. Okay, it was simple choreography: moving their brass instruments from left to right in rhythm, sometimes with a rhythmic body English to boot. But it looked good! Sort of a dance! After the final buzzer and playing the fight song one more time, they also played the Vanderbilt alma mater song, I got a big lump in my throat! It may have been years since I'd been in this gym rooting for Vandy, but that time spread hadn't evaporated my love and support for this outstanding institution where my wife had earned her Bachelors and I my Masters.

Yeah, Vanderbilt! Go, Commodores!

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