This guest post comes from Mary Beth Wilson, a University of Tennessee graduate and Lakeland, FL native. We are glad she could join us to share her unfortunate story of awkwardly being on the Kiss Cam…with her brother. Follow her on Twitter @Wilson_MB!
It happened in January of 2010. I was sitting next to my younger brother, Jeremy, in Thompson Boling Arena at the UT/Vandy basketball game. During an early timeout, Faith Hill’s “This Kiss” started playing, which means one thing at Tennessee games – the kiss cam has begun. After several awkward, forced kisses and the inevitable “awwww’s” at elderly couples who have no problem with public displays of affection, I thought I had seen the last unsuspecting couple on the jumbotron. But then the unthinkable happened. My brother and I were on the kiss cam together.
Sure, the possibility of landing on the kiss cam with my brother had occurred to me before. But here’s the thing: we had (what we thought was) a full-proof system in the unlikely event the kiss cam gods would think to target us. One of us would either a) make a fake phone call (Jeremy’s idea…) or b) go to the concession stand. Words cannot express how badly I wish we had chosen option b.
If you’re familiar with the kiss cam, then you know they keep the shot of the last “couple” on the screen the longest. You may also know that if you don’t cooperate, you’ll be on even longer. So when I put my head down it only made things worse, because when people refuse to kiss during what quickly became my least favorite tradition at basketball games, it REALLY angers the crowd. Roughly 20,000 people heckled, booed and screamed at Jeremy and I relentlessly, including his friends sitting next to us…yes, I’m talking about you, Clayton. I looked up one last time during the incident to find the event staff worker from our aisle in my face screaming, “What’s wrong with you? Kiss him!” We sat in just about the same seats every game and I had never seen him leave his post before.
*If at this point in the story you’re wondering if we kissed, shame on you. This may have happened in East Tennessee, but come on, we’re not natives.*
To add insult to injury, it seemed like everyone I knew in Knoxville went to that game. I received more text messages and phone calls that night than I ever have on my birthday. Even my parents, who were visiting from out of state, picked THAT game out of the whole season to attend. My Dad enjoyed the festivities so much that he emailed a few people in the athletic office about getting video footage of his son and daughter on the kiss cam. Thankfully, they turned him down. I can only imagine the further humiliation I would have gone through if my Dad had that video in his possession.
It’s also important to know that the aftermath of the events that unfolded that night were slightly worse for Jeremy. He was a basketball manager at the time and every player, fellow manager and even some assistant coaches were all watching. I doubt he has come close to hearing the end of it.
In any case, this unfortunate incident has haunted me for the past two years. Being on the kiss cam with my brother nearly ruined basketball for me. To this day, when I go to Tennessee games with Jeremy, I flee my seat during timeouts until I know the kiss cam is over. I can’t fully enjoy (Orlando) Magic games either; not until I am certain that the last couple has kissed and the players are back on the floor. When the PA announcer says, “please direct your attention to the jumbotron for the kiss cam” I tense up nearly to the point of having an anxiety attack. And when I hear the song “This Kiss” all of the images from that traumatic night come flooding back (I still have a pretty decent mental image of that event staff worker’s face).
So, if you find yourself sitting next to a sibling of the opposite sex at a basketball game, ALWAYS GO WITH OPTION B.
*Editor’s note- Mary Beth’s brother, Jeremy was our first ever guest poster and his post entitled “The Curious Case of Jeremy (Lin)” can be found here.