This morning, I pulled out my old Northwestern car flag and attached it to the window of my car for the drive into work. It’s New Year’s eve, and since NU has a game tomorrow morning against Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl, I wanted to display some Wildcat pride on the streets of Chicago.
I’ve had the flag for probably fifteen years, meaning that it’s been flown many times before. It’s known some good times over the years, but during bowl season there’s been only disappointment. Maybe that will change this year, I thought to myself as I drove toward the Kennedy Expressway and the suburban office where I work.
Traffic was light, as might be expected on New Year’s Eve day. As I pulled onto the highway, things were looking great. That is, until I heard the noise.
There was a loud slap against the roof of the car, followed by silence. The familiar ruffling sound of the flag as it hit the roof of my car was gone. I knew what the problem was but, since I was already on the highway, I couldn’t really do anything about it. And so I drove on, until I stopped at an oasis to check.
Just as I had suspected, the plastic rings that had attached the car flag to the pole were no match for wind that was created by driving onto the highway. The rings had snapped, and the flag went off to its resting place, somewhere near the on-ramp to the highway.
At first I was bummed out, and not because I had been driving with what resembled a Festivus pole on my car. No, I had had that flag for many, many years, and it was a link to days from the past that I’ll never see again.
But what were those days, exactly? Usually a good performance by the Wildcats during the regular season, punctuated by disappointment at the end of the season, either by losing a bowl game, or by not playing in one at all. Perhaps, rather than being a bad thing, the loss of my flag is a sign of good things to come tomorrow morning. We’ll all find out soon enough.
UPDATE: The loss of the flag was indeed a good sign, as Northwestern beat Mississippi State 34-20, to capture its first bowl win in a very long time. Expectations for this team in the fall will be very high, indeed.