Auld Lang Syne: A Pep Talk on the Eve of Northwestern's Bowl Game

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?


Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, the day Northwestern plays in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas against Texas A&M. Tonight, people across the English-speaking world will drink and either sing or pretend to know the words of a poem written in Scots English in the 1700's by Robert Burns. (Burns, as you may recall, is the guy who you had to read in English class whose poems are written in some weird language that sounds like how people talk like they speak to cute animals. Apt, considering his most famous poem was written to a mouse.) Nobody singing it really knows what "auld lang syne" means, but the tune is familiar and we know that the gist is something something old acquaintances shouldn't be forgot. To summarize, it's about drinking to the old times. Although memories may have past, we still should raise a cup of kindness to them and buy a pint-cup for our old buddies. We all like the idea of remembering our pasts, even as we move forward, and the reason we sing "Auld Lang Syne" is to remind us to look both forward and back as we cross the threshold to a new year.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and days of auld lang syne?

However, the song omits a key factor. Many of our auld acquaintances suck. There's a reason you don't hang out with that kid Greg you hung out with back in ninth grade because he listened to heavy metal who still listens to heavy metal even though you stopped when you were in tenth grade and he's 32. You don't hang out with your ex-girlfriend who slept with your friend Mark two months after you broke up. You probably don't talk to Mark much either, come to think of it.

By college sports standards, Northwestern has some of the crappiest auld acquaintances possible. And they're very auld acquaintances. Northwestern's 63-year bowl drought is older than literally all my acquaintances, and well over half of the people who are currently alive for that matter. But as new years come and new years go, and we drop the lesser of our buddies, pals, and defriend the girl from our high school who is just, wait, did she just have a baby, and why are pictures of her baby clogging my newsfeed while I try to pay attention in stats class, Northwestern's friends stick around. Whether or not we should forget them is not a question. They refuse to leave us alone. Northwestern's bowl drought is in our new year's plans every year, regardless of whether we invite him to the party.

For auld lang syne, my dear
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

The bowl system breeds meaninglessness. "The Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas" is nine or so words strewn from vague corners of the English dictionary to form something that makes about as much sense as Burns' Scots English. I don't care about Texas A&M, aside from the potential that one of their graduates may run my country - ha - the school has literally nothing to do with me.

And yet, I've driven 18 hours across the country to watch Northwestern play in a game that makes little to no sense and have a burning urge for Northwestern to win.

Tomorrow is the last college football game I'll see before I graduate. Someday, Northwestern will cast its streak aside. The odds of Northwestern continuing to lose through perpetuity are low. But for me, a student teetering on the edge of no longer being a student, my lang synes are coming to a close. (I think. I don't really know what this means.) I want this to happen this year. I believe Dan Persa and Jeremy Ebert and Vince Browne and, well, a lot of people might want that too. For us, this is our last chance to forget about one of our least-favorite friends. Someday, Northwestern as a whole will do this. But tomorrow is the last chance for some of us.

In the grand scheme of things, a win tomorrow is meaningless. But as we raise our glasses towards the new year, let's hope Northwestern has one less acquaintance on the guest-list, forever and ever.

A Happy New Year's to each and all of you, and Go Cats.

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