Remember the Peanut’s cartoon character Pigpen? A cloud of dust accompanied him everywhere and everyone who entered his circle was encompassed by it. If you got close to Pigpen, you were going to get dirty. Period. Jeanna Nielson is a lot like Pigpen in that she carries a cloud of love around with her wherever she goes and everyone who enters her circle is encompassed by it. If you get close to Jeanna, you are going to get loved. Period.
So what does “Pigpen” have to do with rising Cougars and shouting Hislops? We got close to Jeanna and, HOLY COW, did we feel the love!!!
Knowing of Miles’ passion for football, Jeanna connected us with her very generous daughter who gave us tickets to Friday night’s BYU vs Cincinnati football game…and not just any tickets either. We were seated in the lower bowl, only 24 rows up. We could see the player’s faces! And not just tickets either—also a parking pass right next to the stadium and wristbands that allowed us into “The Tent”.
As big as many hotel ballrooms, The Tent offered entrants unlimited access to appetizers, salads, main dishes and desserts. The menu included (but was not limited to): asiago cheese covered asparagus spears, coconut shrimp, mango/strawberry Asian salad, baby back ribs, roast beast, pulled pork sandwiches, pineapple grilled chicken, a fresh fruit salad (that included blueberries!), freshly baked biscuits, specialty drinks, hot fudge sundaes, German chocolate cake, raspberry torte, apple pie, various pastries, a white chocolate fountain, and bananas, strawberries, marshmallows, cinnamon bears, and waffles on sticks with bins of chocolate and caramel to dip them in. And that’s not all! In the stadium, under each seat, was an insulated goodie bag containing two bottles of chilled water, a double size Snickers bar, and a spoon. (Why the spoon?)
At half time we returned to The Tent where the feast continued: nachos, giant pretzels, hot dogs, corn dogs, the entire array of desserts offered previously plus some, and kettle corn. I munched happily (VERY happily) on the kettle corn, not even bothering to explore the other options. Popcorn ranks very close to fresh blueberries on my list of ABSOLUTE FAVORITE THINGS. Cooper covered his face (and filled his belly) with chocolate (again) and Miles had a double helping of nachos. Sara sampled new desserts and Grace kept saying, “How does one convince one’s self that there is still room in the tummy?”
Soon after returning to the stadium we learned the reason for the spoons. BYU worker-bees, dressed in crisp white shirts, lined the aisles and gave us individual, half-pint containers of ice cream. Ice cream!! Unbelievable! And amazing!
The game was amazing too.
The first half was dismal; Cincinnati walked all over us. We could not get through their defensive line and their offensive line cut right through us. At the end of the first quarter they had 205 total offensive yards to our 19 and the score was 10-0 in their favor. Painful.
After the pain comes the glory, right? Not always but, in BYU football, quite often. In classic BYU style the Cougars, trailing 24-17 entering the fourth quarter, ended up winning 38-24. We watched Cincinnati fade like frost in front of the sun as BYU burned through their defense, fired down the field and stepped across the goal line again and again and again.
* BYU held Cincinnati, ranked the nation’s 5th best offense, to just 341 total offensive yards, more than 100 yards less than its previous season low of 446 yards.
* Before playing BYU, Cincinnati had only allowed 6 QB sacks the entire season. BYU sacked their QB 8 times.
There were many game highlights. We had some highlights of our own.
They do a “Player Walk” before each home game where the BYU football players walk from their bus down the sidewalk and into LaVell Edwards Stadium. Supportive fans line the sides and cheer. Many people hold out their hands and many players “high five” the held-out hands. “I got to touch Mitch Matthew’s hand!” Miles said again and again and again.
In The Tent Grace was reluctant to try the specialty drinks, fearing that they contained alcohol. At BYU!!! When she learned that they don’t even sell caffeinated drinks on campus she decided that she wants to attend BYU. “Now that is my kind of environment,” she said.
During the pre-game feast BYU cheerleaders meandered through The Tent. Miles said something about taking a photo with them but when Lance said, “Let’s go” he lost his nerve. When Lance reminded him of a conversation they’d had earlier in the week about not letting shyness steal opportunities he found the nerve again. They got a cute shot with a couple cute cheerleaders. Later one of the cheerleaders with whom he’d posed sought his eyes with hers and gave him a personal wave.
Cooper loved the dipping chocolate and it showed. He had chocolate almost literally from ear to ear. Sara loved the special feeling she got when attendants in “fancy white shirts” handed her ice cream in the stadium and she really, REALLY loved getting the large tube of foot cream the NuSkin represented gifted her as she exited The Tent.
Thanks to a little help from our friends, we all wore BYU blue. As Lance put donned a BYU shirt for perhaps the first time in his life he said, “I may lose my inheritance for doing this.” He may not have loved wearing a BYU shirt but he did love seeing Miles’ eyes dance as he watched the game.
I loved standing and singing the BYU fight song—“Rise and shout the Cougars are out”—again and again and again in the fourth quarter. Being in the stadium as BYU pulled out another classic come-from-behind win was electric. Being there with my family was even better. Being in the stadium, sharing with my family, AND being pampered in an out-of-our-world way was the best.
Thank you, Jeanna and Company, for what was, in Miles’ words “the best day of my life.” Feel the LOVE!
P.S. If Lance is, indeed, dis-inherited, will you adopt us?