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Sex, drugs and … marshmallows

Observer Viewpoint | Monday, November 21, 2005

When my grandmom asks me at Thanksgiving dinner about my final home game at Notre Dame Stadium, I will tell her it was a 42-21 win over Navy.

This Saturday, for what was supposed to be my final home game as a Notre Dame student, I – a kid who did not go abroad because he didn’t want to miss football and basketball – was sitting at Legends, lounging at Turtle Creek apartments, doing my best to forget that an usher had just kicked me out of the Notre Dame-Syracuse game, taken my ticket booklet and acted without any sensibility or independent thinking while performing his job … all because I had a bag of marshmallows.

There are only two places in the world where a marshmallow is a bad thing – Notre Dame and the city of New York in Ghostbusters.

What do you think of when you hear the word “marshmallows?” Soft, fluffy and white, right? Smores, hot chocolate … having fun. You would never think a bag of marshmallows had the potential to wreak havoc on an entire community, or even worse, ruin a person’s day.

But welcome to my Saturday.

I approached Gate E of the Stadium slightly after 2:30 p.m. wearing my throwback Return to Glory shirt, jeans, a winter hat and a blue winter coat. I had zipped the coat halfway to conceal a bag of marshmallows inside. I hadn’t bought them myself, but I’d found them at a tailgate and decided my final game as a senior should include marshmallows.

I approached an usher with my ticket booklet and student identification card in my hands. The usher looked me in the eyes before accepting my tickets or ID and said, “What do you have there?” and pointed to my jacket.

“A bag of marshmallows,” I said frankly.

He asked for the bag, and I handed it over to avoid unnecessary further discussion. Then the usher grabbed my ticket booklet from my hands without asking for it, and then he walked away.

I followed him.

“What are you doing?” I said.

The usher took the bag and tickets to another usher who told me to leave. I asked why and he said, “Is this your bag of marshmallows?” I said it was. “Then you have to leave.”

If I hadn’t been so furious I would have keeled over laughing. Can you imagine watching an episode of Cops with the officers chasing a man through a neighborhood, pinning him against a wall and saying, “Hand over the marshmallows”?

Confiscating marshmallows is Notre Dame’s version of shooting a koala bear.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said. Were they really not letting me into the Stadium, for my final home game, after having taken my marshmallows? And who in their right minds does not understand that stealing a bag of marshmallows is enough punishment for a 21-year old football fan?

What was I going to throw in the student section without marshmallows? My wallet? “You have to leave,” the usher repeated.

A pair of Notre Dame students and now even better friends of mine stopped and pleaded with the usher to let me in.

“He gave you the marshmallows, why don’t you let him in?” a fellow senior said. “It’s his last home game.”

The usher wouldn’t have it. And that’s the story of how, after covering countless Notre Dame home games in the press box and on the field, conducting myself professionally for three years as a team beat reporter and student and trying my best to represent Notre Dame well to the outside world every day of my life, two men sent me to pack my bags early.

But I guess they handled the situation correctly. After all, if they hadn’t kicked me out, I never would have opened up a bar tab at Legends. And drinking at Notre Dame isn’t as big of a problem as marshmallows, is it?