Column | I couldn’t watch the Northwestern game…


James Hoeck

Guard Terrance Shannon Jr. blocks Northwestern’s guard player Matthew Nicholson during the second half of Thursday night’s game. Columnist Theodore Gary writes on missing out on watching the Illini face off against Northwestern.

By Theo Gary, Staff Writer

To be honest, it wasn’t looking so good at the end of the first half. The Illini were down by 18. Boo Buie had 22. I was pissing my pants — all that crap I talked, all those names I called Northwestern. My pride was on the line. It was bad. I had to do something.

I left my phone behind. I took a walk. It was do or die for me. I hadn’t gambled some gigantic amount of money on this game, hadn’t been praying for some ridiculous parlay to pull through. But it felt like I had. I understood my friends now, the people who do that and always seem to lose (usually it’s the Cowboys’ fault). This gambling thing is stressful, staking my happiness, my reputation, on a game that other people are playing — absurd. But I was in too deep then, sunk cost and all that, so I continued on, walking and praying.

It was after so much time, crisscrossing the campus, walking to Grainger, then to PAR, then to the Main Quad. Just wandering, looking at the buildings. There was ISR, like Skyy Clark, shiny and new and ultimately disappointing at this point. And the North Quad, full of engineers, disheveled and unshowered seniors grinding it out for that degree like Matthew Mayer. And Ikenberry Commons, the freshman old-reliable, populated by a bunch of Ty Rodgers’ and Sincere Harris’. Everywhere I looked, there was basketball. Dain Dainja in Alma, extending her hands as a welcome and he extending his as a rejection. 

It had gotten late, the game was definitely over. For most of the people walking down Green Street, the road had long since stopped going in a straight line and was now sort of moving side to side, they were walking like it did at least.   

As I passed by, there he was, on the balcony at KAMS, Chris Collins chain-smoking cigarettes, one dropped out of his finger, and another lit right back up. He looked gaunt and haggard, a six o’clock shadow emerging on that clean-shaven square jaw of his. He stared out into the distance, over and above those big, ugly towers on Green Street, past Alma, past the Main Quad, past PAR and FAR, past the cemetary and past the now empty football field; he was thinking, taking in the brisk February air, posing to himself those enduring questions that the philosophers have wrestled with since time — immemorial. How do I love? How do I live? And how do I stop Terrence Shannon?

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I stopped, but said nothing. I could perceive his thoughts, his disquiet. “Yes,” I said under my breath. “We won.”


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