Day 194. Are You a Houghton?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

When I was growing up and into college I would often get asked the same question. It would happen randomly at different times. Even though it was random strangers asking me, it didn’t really surprise me after awhile. The question I often got was, “Are you a Houghton?”

My family knew a lot of people in town. My grandpa had been a bank president, by dad was the tennis coach of the university, my mom knew everyone, and I just had a lot of family in town. I look a lot like my Grandpa Bud did, and apparently us Houghtons have a look. It was always a good thing. I never encountered the situation where someone said, “Are you a Houghton? This is for my father!” And then hit me in the face. I always liked it.

I haven’t had it happen for a long time.

Today, I woke up giddy. I was going to have many elements of what makes a good day. I was going to be hanging out with friends, surrounded by people I have a fundamental thing in common with, and I was going to be watching football. Iowa Football. With my dad as a coach, I grew up going to football games all the time in the fall. I would sit with 70,000 others in the stadium cheering on the team, I would help with the stadium cleanup the next morning (because they paid us in glazed doughnuts), and then I worked selling memorabilia on game days in college.

When I moved to Springfield and I was looking for a job, I started going to game watches at a sports bar where I met a bunch of other Hawkeye fans. See, Iowa Hawkeye fans are fairly rabid and committed, and very prideful. I ended up watching most Iowa games in Springfield with about 20 other Iowans.

Today, I got to do it on a much bigger scale. I went to a game watch at Barney’s Beanery in Santa Monica with my friends, Ross and Jeremiah. Barney’s is the game watch place in Los Angeles. Barney’s is a big place, and when we walked in, we saw that the place was packed. It has three levels, and it was all filled standing room only with people clad in Hawkeye gear.

We found the last available seats in front of a big screen and watched an Iowa win. All I wanted to do was go around and talk to people to learn how many degrees of separation we had.

Before we were getting ready to leave, a guy popped over to our table and said, “Hey, are you a Houghton?”

It was a guy who graduated near my youngest brother, Scott, who looks most like me. It turns out that the guy, John, is the son of one my mom’s friend. My mom had been telling me that he lived here, but I had never been in touch.

It was a brief encounter, but it was nice, it reminded me of home.

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