We don’t need no stinking rallies for pep. South Florida dresses up real nice, pretty as can be, for the best galas in sports; we’re just not so great at the more mundane cocktail gatherings that fill out so much of the rest of the sports calendar. But BIG, we always do the hell out of that. Can’t imagine how all those pale people from the sacred school of Notre Dame reacted when they stumbled upon the loud transvestite song-and-dance show outside the Palace Bar. This game, it is almost as large as those transvestites.
(Speaking of the pale, South Beach per square foot has to lead America in pink people this week, all those winter-white folks gorging without restraint on our sun and our booze. Not a lot of places in America that allow you to go shirtless the first week of January, you know? Not many things, either, that can make these tourists take off all that Crimson red or Irish green pride on their T-shirts this particular week, but our sun and booze and our sex appear to be some of them, although you’d be better off not imagining the latter given the effects of the former.)
The local exercisers and cuddlers lost a chunk of their famous beach to Pro Football Junior last week, hence the zipline and the tents and all those grills giving off the delicious scent of cash, this “Fan Experience” brought to you by A Corporate Sponsor. You can take a free picture with the coach’s trophy in that tent, brought to you by The Soda Corporate Sponsor. You can have advanced electrolytes brought to you by Another Liquid Sponsor. A man writes on a chalkboard that Brown, a Notre Dame Heisman winner, will be here at 3:30 p.m. for photos and Alabama Heisman winner Mark Ingram will be here at 4 p.m., human heroes as paid props brought to you Another Corporate Sponsor.
“Official” merchandise is everywhere, but an unofficial local entrepreneur takes coconuts and straws out of a battered cooler for those tourists who don’t need advanced electrolytes in paradise, and a tour guide whizzes by with his group on Segways. He allows for pictures of the former Versace Mansion and tells his tourists as fact that there are “350 million people” in town for the big game, which suggests some of the facts on his tour might be totally made up (that’s larger than the population of the United States).
A handful of the 349,918,000 pour souls who can’t be at the game wander Ocean Drive holding up “Need tickets” signs to their chest, less happy than their surroundings, looking more desperate than even those two excessively-pink Alabama fans ogling the bikini-wearing rollerblader. “Roll Tide!” replaces “Hello” whenever Alabama strangers see each other, and the “Welcome To The Jungle” of Guns N’ Roses immediately and incongruously morphs into salsa music as you walk past restaurants that have expanded their outdoor seating into the street.
Every loud and partying dance step takes you closer to tonight, the noisy exclamation point on Pro Football Junior’s season. Notre Dame has more national championships than any school ever — nine. Alabama is second with eight. Both schools are inordinately proud of their football tradition, so history’s championship gap either grows or is erased over three hours tonight. Notre Dame, a religious school, versus Alabama Football, a religious zeal. One group of very pink people is going to leave paradise totally crushed, and the other is going to have happy reasons to consume more of South Beach and somehow turn even pinker.