The streak is over and it’s hard for me not to feel personally responsible.
Last year my son’s high-school football team finished the regular season undefeated. During that time, he and I ate breakfast together on game-day Fridays before school. We were a few games into the season when we realized we had been sitting at the same table, at the same time, at the same place, and eating the same thing every game day. Neither of us is typically superstitious, but we wanted to keep the streak alive and so we kept it going through the rest of the season.
This might sound silly to some, but it became serious to us. It became so serious that I got up at 4:00a.m., one morning while out of town, to get back to Hattiesburg in time to have game-day breakfast with my son. Neither of us wanted to jinx the streak.
In the post season, we lost a playoff game and the undefeated run ended. Though our regular season streak was still alive going into this year.
This year is my son’s junior season. The bakery we ate all of our game-day breakfasts last year closed just as the season was getting started. We had several talks about where to move our game-day breakfasts. Then I received a text message from one of the fathers of a teammate stating that he and another father-son team wanted to eat breakfast with us on game days.
We had to move the venue since the bakery closed, but we met on a Friday in August, at 7:00a.m. on the morning of the first game. We won that night. The next week all six of us sat in the same chairs, and ate the same things, at the same place. Superstitions were never discussed, but no one wanted to jinx the new streak.
The night before the third game, business took me to the Mississippi Delta. It was an overnight trip. Again, I woke up at 4:00a.m., to make sure to get to the game-day restaurant by 7:00a.m. I did. We won.
Enter U2. I have had tickets to see the rock band U2 in the Superdome in New Orleans for months. The show was last week on a Thursday night. The original plan was to take my wife, daughter, and son to the show. The day of the show, my son backed out, worried that he wouldn’t get enough sleep the night before a game. My wife, daughter, and a friend went to the show and spent the night in the Crescent City.
I debated on getting up early, but had three others with me. We would have had to leave at 5:00a.m. and I didn’t press the issue with my traveling companions. We arrived back home at 10:30a.m. long after the game-day breakfast crew had disbanded. I considered just going to the restaurant and having a late meal, sitting at the same table, and eating the same thing by myself, but I got busy at work and I had already eaten at my favorite bakery in New Orleans. Big mistake. Big, big mistake.
We lost the game that night.
I can’t blame it on my wife and daughter and I can’t blame it on Bono and The Edge. There were on-the-field reasons, and enough blame to go around among the team mates. The coach took responsibility in his post-game speech at midfield after the game. But as he was consoling his team— a group of young men who hadn’t lost a regular season game since October of 2015— I couldn’t help but to feel partially responsible. To their credit, the two dads who normally eat the game-day breakfast didn’t say a word (they also kept their distance).
Game day breakfasts are like the peak of fatherhood to me. I love my son, I love breakfast, and I love football. All three of those joys-of-life come together for me for 45 short minutes, once a week, on Friday mornings in the fall. It’s one of the things I thought about as a young man dreaming about being a father.
My son and I have always eaten breakfast together and always will. We have eaten breakfasts all over Europe and in cities all across America. It’s our thing. But there is something special about being with a young man, early in the morning, with an exciting day of athletic anticipation ahead, and an upcoming physically draining battle lying in wait. The energy is different.
Game-day breakfasts are a finite thing. I know that. Even under the best scenario of wins and post-season play, he and I have less than two dozen game-day breakfasts left. I want to milk every minute for everything they are worth.
View today’s recipe: South Mississippi Breakfast Casserole