Growing up, I attended almost every University of Florida football game; I was a Gator fan and I dreamed of attending the university.
In my junior year in high school, one Saturday morning before a Gator football game my mother announced we were going to leave early so we could visit my brother Randolph: who at that time, was going to law school and sharing a house with 3 of his classmates.
At ten o’clock in the morning my mother was knocking on the door and “yoo-hooing” for my brother. When the door opened, she barged into a living room semi-destroyed by the prior evening’s party. There were people sleeping on the floor, empty bottles, dirty plates, full ashtrays and the odor of a cheap bar after closing hour; my mother was chagrined, my father was trying not to laugh and I was amazed. It was then I decided that I didn’t want to attend college so close to home that my mother could “just drop in.”
When I first became a student at Florida State University, I was still a gator fan: to the extent that I recall a Saturday afternoon my freshman year—ignoring my friends gathered around a radio listening to FSU play—sitting in a car listening to Otis Boggs describe Steve Spurrier kicking a field goal to seal a Florida victory over Auburn. However, by my sophomore year, I had become a Seminole and over the succeeding years, a somewhat fanatic fan.
I used to say my two favorite teams were Florida State and whatever team was playing Florida. For me a perfect fall weekend was a Seminole victory and a Gator loss. My friends and I would unmercifully disrespect each others teams; with one “dig” trying to top the other.
I was traveling with a group of friends when their Gators were upset by a “second tier” SEC opponent. At first I found myself gloating and then it dawned on me how unhappy the loss had made them. It struck me that these are people I really care about and whom I want to be happy. It was at that moment that I decided to truly root for the University of Florida—except when they play FSU.
At one time, to draw attention to my cleverness, I was quick with a wisecrack when someone made a mistake; to build myself up at others expense. Building yourself up at someone else’s expense, tears down relationships. The price of a cheap laugh, a “dig” or a “gotcha” may be a friendship. Family, friends, colleagues, customers, vendors—we should always celebrate the successes and share the happiness of the people we care about.
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson