It turned out, after a tater tot and taco-laden discussion in one of the less crumb-coated tables of South Quad, that Hal adhered the most to college rivalry sentiments than did anyone else in his social circle. Calling it a “social circle” included several caveats, of course, one of them being that Hal didn’t know half the people at the table beyond recognizing them as fellow band geeks, and another being that they were band geeks and therefore for the most part less adept at social interactions.
“I just don’t get what all the fuss is about.” Kendra, a dirty blonde alto horn, wrinkled her nose. “It’s so extra.”
“That’s what makes it great!” Hal flung his arms outward melodramatically. “It’s pure adrenaline! Chaos! Acrimony!”
“Eh….” The lukewarm counter came from Millicent, a sophomore and fellow cymbal reserve with a lavender streak in her hair and a tendency to brood. She was the one person at the table Hal somewhat knew. “Pretty overkill, if you ask me.”
“Screaming at the refs isn’t really my idea of fun,” Kendra supplemented.
“We scream at the refs from anger, not because it’s fun. The fun part is watching the other team lose!”
“I thought it was about watching our team win.” Millicent’s voice was a deadpan.
“Well, that, too.”
Kendra mouthed something to Millicent that looked like the word boys.
“Well, as much as I love watching other teams fail spectacularly,” –this from a sophomore trumpet named Ryker– “I usually get more hyped when we win.”
Mildly incredulous that his tablemates did not exhibit an enthusiasm unknown to mankind, Hal turned to the fifth and final band geek munching away on tater tots, a freshman pic named Aaron. He was a snarky lad prone to, according to his numerous anecdotes, butting heads with substitute teachers who mispronounced his name. He’d often be reamed for messing up and then wind up outside the principal’s office twiddling his thumbs and wondering if the latest band video had caught him missing his dot. Hal figured he was the type to revel in both the wins of the Wolverines and the losses of their sworn enemies, but he wasn’t so sure at this point.
“Oh, me?” Aaron looked up from his tater tots. “I kinda agree with Kendra and Ryker. I wouldn’t go so far as to call screaming at refs fun, but I do love me a good football game.”
“I never said screaming at refs was fun. I said the spirit of college football was fun.” Hal defensively chowed down on his taco, then contemptibly popped a tater tot into his mouth while he was still chewing. “Like the rivalry. Not getting shorted by refs.”
“Didn’t they apologize–?”
Hal waved his hand dismissively. “Not good enough. You see, they done messed up, A–Aaron!” He was interrupted as Aaron yeeted a tater tot at his head.
“Alright, that’s it.” Millicent stood, surly, and scooped up her empty plate. “I’m outta here.”
“What would you do that for, bro!?” Hal gesticulated helplessly at the immaculate tater tot now marred by the filth of the cafeteria floor. “Why would you waste a tater tot? They’re not just tater tots–they’re most requested tater tots!” Yet, as he spoke, he pumped the remainder of his taco into the air and launched it past Aaron’s shoulder. “As per the menu!”
“Oh, it’s on,” Aaron returned, and seized his four remaining tater tots in his fist.
Author’s Note: Band geeks do not yeet food at each other in actuality. We’re more civilized than that.