Hello fellow single twenty somethings, and old heads who still believe in love. Picture this.
You find yourself at a cozy bar sipping on a whiskey coke across from a lovely young man or woman. It’s your first date. You’ve either been set up by a friend or you’ve been swiping your little heart away on the app de jour. Whatever the case may be, you’re here now.
And by golly, it’s not going half bad so far. In fact, it’s going well. They’re cute, you’re feeling confident, hell, they’re even laughing at your jokes that you know for certain are terrible.
“Where are you from?”
“Where do you work?”
“Dogs are frickin awesome, right?”
All of the typical questions are popping up. Sparks are flying.
And then you ask the question.
“Where did you go to school?!”
“Mizzou!” they enthusiastically respond.
You go dark. Your brain starts playing Braggin’ Rights highlights. You begin to tremor at all of those football losses you watched occur at the Edward Jones Dome. Missouri? You willingly lived in Missouri? All of that in one and a half seconds.
You’re clutch, so you snap out of it.
“Oh, cool! I went to Illinois! How’d you like Missouri?”
You’ve survived. For now. They begin to wax poetic about Columbia (really?) and their memories and all of the friends they made. You control your body language. Pretend this is totally fine.
All you have to do is get through this initial shockwave and you will survive. There are only a few things that they can say that should cause you to immediately abort:
“Cuonzo really knows how to develop talent!”
“Do you wanna see my tiger tattoo?” (Seriously that logo is grotesque)
They break into a solo ‘S-E-C!’ chant.
They admit to tweeting that yellow tiger logo at recruits.
If any of those things happen, throw some cash on the table and get out of Dodge. It simply isn’t meant to be. But if those aren’t the first words out of their mouth you still have hope. Try to steer the conversation back to a happier place. When in doubt, ask them about their worst first date — everyone has a story and it’ll give you some time to collect yourself.
Try to avoid any more college questions. Avoid favorite animals just to be safe. You have to be on your A-game and cannot have your mood soured with thoughts of the Missouri Tigers circling your head.
Every flaw is an opportunity.
Think of it this way: Maybe they aren’t a diehard Mizzou fan. Maybe you fall in love and maybe you are able to convert this person to Illini fandom. And even if you can’t do that, you can prevent their children from becoming Tiger fans. If they go on to marry someone else, there’s a good chance we will have a few more little Mizzou fans in this world. And we have enough. Instead, if you have those kids together, you can prevent more Mizzou fans by making sure they are raised as Illini fans.
Or — and stay with me here — you could just not be a college sports fan for a change and get over your collegiate pride for a chance at love. It could be fun!
It’ll be cute. You can get some “house divided” artwork and get shown on the big screen at the Braggin’ Rights game when you’re sitting together with opposite colors on.
Granted, the chance of them being dateable significantly declines if they went to Missouri, but on the off chance they are, just play it cool. It seems unsettling at first, but don’t judge a book by its cover, or a tiger by its stripes.
Just don’t panic. Have fun. And stay calm, as calm as a Rayvonte stepback game-winner.