Monday, December 26, 2011

Flaming Furniture

I drove to Morgantown after work and got to watch the huge Mountaineer victory with Anna and my daughter Halley (a student at WVU). The local WVU alumni chapter held a game-watch party at Chic-N-Bones in downtown Morgantown. It was set up as a fundraiser for two active members of that alumni chapter, complete with lots of raffle prizes at halftime (unfortunately, none of our tickets were winners).

A few weeks back, this recently married couple went to Cincinnati for the WVU game when they were awoken by a phone call at around 3 a.m. They learned that their home, some 300 miles away had burned down. Not knowing the extent of the damage they drove back to Morgantown in the middle of the night only to find that their home had been destroyed. Fortunately, the newlyweds were not injured, but the fire took the lives of their two cats, many of their wedding gifts and other possessions. Thus, the WVU alumni rallied together to raise money for the couple to help get them back on their feet. Mountaineers support each other!

What a game it was! The three of us will long remember sitting together on a long leather couch watching ESPN on the huge screen TV in the large back room at Chic-N-Bones. We all jumped up, high-fived, and hugged each other when the game-winning field goal sailed through the uprights on the final play of the game. Of course, we wish our team (reminiscent of the old Cleveland Browns Cardiac Kids?) would make it easier on us and get a comfortable margin of victory, rather than all these last second wins we have experienced lately (Cincinnati, Pitt, and now USF), but a win is a win is a win. It was a great night to be a Mountaineer!

After the game, we decided to stroll down High Street and savor the victory. The revelry was not nearly as high as I expected, but there were still a lot of folks walking around happy (including one guy dressed only in a towel looking like he just stepped out of the shower to celebrate--while the bank "time & temperature" said 27 degrees). Because of the cold temperatures, I think most folks were staying inside to celebrate.

The best part of the post-game celebration was that Anna and I decided to drive Halley through Sunnyside on the way back. Back when Anna and I were WVU students in the ‘80s, there were a number of big football wins (beating Penn State, Pitt, Doug Flutie, etc.) that resulted in massive parties in this predominantly student housing area behind where the old stadium once stood. Many of the old houses in Sunnyside have big front porches, and often when multiple students are living together in an old house, you end up with old furniture that gets moved out on the porch. When a massive and spontaneous celebration breaks out, and folks are looking for combustible material for a celebratory bonfire, the old outside couch is a prime candidate.

Thus, WVU students got a reputation as couch burners. I never attended any of these events in my student days, but I can remember seeing the aftermath of big scorch marks in the middle of University Avenue near the Sunnyside Superette. In recent years, there has been a crackdown to discourage couch burning or any bonfires (it is now a felony), so they rarely occur like they did in the old days. However, you can buy cakes designed to look like a couch with candles to burn, and there are lots of t-shirts that reference couchburning. Deserved or not, the reputation of couch burners has been attached to WVU students.

So as Anna drove up University Avenue, we were regaling my daughter with stories of the “old days” and keeping an eye out just in case there really was a mob scene and couch burning. We really didn’t expect to see one, but low and behold, as we drove up the hill on University Avenue, where Beverly Street branches off, there was a couch on fire in the middle of the street. OK, maybe it wasn’t a full size couch—it was probably more of an ottoman or even a large footstool. Regardless, there was flaming furniture in the roadway! We didn’t stop (in the fear we might get arrested as accessories to the crime) but we all knew we had experienced something special that only Mountaineer fans can appreciate. Only in Morgantown! Go Mountaineers!

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