Last weekend I drove up to Tulsa to attend the 40th Annual Toilet Bowl Game. I have been attending Toilet Bowls since 1991 and although the faces have changed and the venue occasionally changes, the game is always just a lot of fun. Of course, in 1991 I was looking at the alumni that came to the game and thinking... "Man, why do they come back each year?" Now I know why. It isn't so much about attending the game or even about reliving the past; it is about brotherhood. I don't know if the guys that started the first game back in the 1960's had any idea what the game would eventually morph into; or how it would become the cornerstone of the uniqueness that is "The John" but never-the-less that is exactly what has happened. From that uniqueness stems a brotherhood, not for every resident of "The John" but for many; and from that group usually stems the men that lead the dorm and usually are the same ones that keep coming back year after year to celebrate Toilet Bowl.
The game in itself isn't strangely unique. It is a simple flag football game, played by current residents and former residents alike. What does make Toilet Bowl different than other flag football games is the tradition that surrounds it. From the names of the teams, "squirts" was a team name one year, to the crowning of the Toilet Bowl Queen (what is a bowl game without a queen) to the ceremonial dunking of the MVPs in Lottie Jane's front lobby toilet. For many years there was also the ceremonial dunking of yours truly, a tradition that seems to have finally died. It is all of these little moments, combined with seeing old friends and cohorts that draws alumni back year after year. Some coming now for close to two decades.
After the game groups of alumni many times go out to dinner and continued to catch up on each other's current lives and yes even re-tell fantastic tales when we lived in "The John." For example, our group of former "John" residents and our current wives and girlfriends, have a tendency to migrate to our favorite Sushi restaurant and then usually head some place to enjoy some good beer and yes even more tales. We talk of those who can't be there, like one of our own who is serving in Iraq and occasionally we talk of those we are very glad aren't there. No, not too mean; besides they usually have "ex" in front of their title.
All of this goes into Toilet Bowl each year. Some of us only get to see each other this one time each year and it seems to always be a good time. Then when the evening ends, we all go our own directions knowing that in 12 months we will get another chance to see our old dorm and friendly faces from our past.
This Toilet Bowl should be dedicated to our brother serving in Iraq, may he return home safe and sound to the longing arms of his lovely girlfriend; and any other brother who once called "The John" home and now protects our future and the future of the next generation of Toilet Bowl participants.