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Another week, another game. Football was played at Lane Stadium Saturday, sort of. Scores were recorded, checks were exchanged. The most interesting part of the weekend, however, came Friday across campus from the stadium.

As for the game, Tech used its defense and special teams to pound an overmatched William and Mary team into submission by a count of 44-3. It was not exactly an artistic success, as a Tribe run defense famous for giving up yards by the mile managed to control Tech’s woeful offensive line. Tyrod looked a lot like a true freshman in need of a red-shirt season to learn the offense and obtain Gentrification, the receivers looked very much like guys dealing with their fourth starting quarterback in as many years. Tech touchdowns rung up through interception and punt returns put this one away early and by the Fourth Quarter Frank and his BFF, W&M coach Jimmye Laycock, were able to sneak away for nine holes and Laycock to pocket the $200k received for the pounding, paid via Frank’s fax machine.

The real story of the weekend, however, was in the parking lots.

Many are perhaps aware that I am a founding member of the group known as the Clubhouse Tailgate. Now in our tenth year, we get together for all games, home and/or away. Starting during the 98 season with four guys, two dogs and a small RV, the Clubhouse Tailgate has grown to include five RVs, sixty-two tailgaters by a count made Saturday and two dogs, one an original. Through extensive media coverage, the Clubhouse Tailgate has managed to achieve a bit of fame, including being called ‘legendary’ by legendary Internet smart-ass BobLee, who will be this weekend’s Special Tailgate Guest Star.

The Clubhouse Tailgate began in the Cage and later spent an intermediate period in the Public Lot. Since 2002 we have been gathering in Lot 17, also known as the Duckpond Lot. Despite being located a fair walking distance from Lane [we mostly middle-aged and out-of-shape guys need the exercise], it has proven to be a pretty good place to Tailgate.

It also seems a good tailgating spot for numerous other RVs, too, even those not affiliated, yet, with the Clubhouse Tailgate. RVs generally meandered in throughout the day on the pre-game Friday, usually parking themselves in what looked to be an efficient usage of Lot 17 space. It was a system that looked very much like one that was not broken. Therefore, Tech decided to fix it.

Lot 17 is controlled by two separate Tech parking bureaucracies, one of the Athletic Department, which takes it over at 5 pm on the Friday before games, and another of the university, which controls it at all other times. For reasons that remain nebulous, that of the university decided to exert control over the situation.

During the workweek, Lot 17 is designated for university staff parking, although its numbers of vehicles on a Friday afternoon would seem to indicate that school budget cuts are having an effect.

Despite the uncanny resemblance of Lot 17 on Friday to most any Duke football parking lot during most any game, Tech’s university parking nabob decreed that no RVs would be allowed into the lot before 5 pm Friday.

This was guaranteed to create a situation. Virtually all RVs are traveling to Virginia Tech from places other than Blacksburg. The Clubhouse Tailgate brings them from NOVA, Richmond, Tidewater and Martinsville. Varying levels of traffic on highways such as I-81 and 220 make timing one’s arrival a bit tricky. This used to pose no problem, as the RVers upon arrival would simply head on into the open and empty Lot 17. That all changed last Friday, as the new regulation caused RVs to jam up on the road outside the lot waiting for the magical hour that would allow them to enter an empty parking lot.

Clubhouse Tailgate member and message board curmudgeon Atlee Hokie had found a loophole. Through a thorough and fine reading of general university parking policies, Atlee discovered that Lot 17 was available during the week for RVs visiting the campus, presumably for reasons other than football. Entrance to the lot could be obtained by obtaining a weekday RV parking permit. Atlee did this and was happily ensconced in Lot 17 early Friday afternoon. This seemed a simple solution to the problem created in response to no problem. There was, however, a catch, Catch-17.

Catch-17 states that an RV has to have a parking permit to park in Lot 17, unless one has a parking permit, in which case it cannot park in Lot 17. As the witching hour of 5 pm approached, Atlee was told that since he had a parking permit for Lot 17 he had to leave Lot 17. Once he was no longer parking in Lot 17, he could then park in Lot 17. Atlee then turned his Hokie Trekker around and parked in Lot 17.

That is some catch, the best there is. Had Yossarian been told of Catch-17 as he sat in the waiting room of Major Major waiting for the squadron commander to leave so he could go in and see him, Yossarian would have marveled at its basic simplicity. Indeed, it would seem that following World War II, General Dreedle returned to civilian life and found work drawing up parking regulations at Virginia Tech, ably assisted by ex-PFC Wintergreen.

After implementing Catch-17, the grunts of the Tech football parking staff on the ground proceeded to efficiently park the waiting RVs in Lot 17. They did perhaps have to pay a visit to Doc Daneeka to obtain headache medicine for the migraines incurred from Catch-17, a catch they had nothing to do with. The RVs were finally parked and Friday tailgating festivities commenced, albeit a bit later than usual. We avidly await the Carolina game, when perhaps we will discover that General Peckham has decreed that all RVs be parked in parallel lines with all doors facing the Washington Monument.

While there had been irritation expressed Friday and earlier in the day Saturday, by early Saturday evening the Clubhouse Tailgate had been lubricated enough to find the humor in Catch-17, especially after an Internet smart-ass began expressing his intentions to write a column about the whole thing. That Internet smart-ass was Washington Irving, who signed off on this column about Catch-17. It is the best catch there is.

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