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THE RITUAL OF A FOOTBALL fan, the real football fan, in Dallas on Sunday is to attend the Cowboy Club, both before and after the NFL games in the Cotton Bowl. Texas being a dry state (many blame the Baptists, and some Texans therefore blame Baylor), the owners of the Cowboys long ago took the precaution of seeing to it that their loyal fans (those who buy memberships) can get a mixed drink and something to eat at the club on the state fairgrounds. During the fair and the big football weekend, however, so many people were in town that the club had to move from air-conditioned indoor quarters to a tent just outside of the Cotton Bowl. It was still the place to be on a lazy Sunday that dawned as clear and warm and calm as Friday and Saturday had been. The Cowboys had not won a game and had lost four, but Joe Coffman kept telling people that they were a cinch to beat the Lions. "It's a sure thing," he said to Bedford Wynne, part owner, along with Clint Murchison Jr., of the Cowboys. "It's an upset weekend, boys. It just figures."
"Hell, I'm startin' to get nervous, now that you told me that," said Bedford.
When a college game has been played in Dallas the day before, the Cowboy Club serves another purpose. It is sort of a hangover haven. Bloody Marys outsell any other drink by 20 to 1, and frequently spectators bring their own Bloody Marys in giant thermoses. Since Bedford, like Joe and Cecil, is one of the most ardent Texas fans in captivity, the Cowboy Club is also a haven for University of Texas fans. From table to table the talk was all about the "Horns and that terrific thing they did to Oklahoma Saturday."
As Joe Coffman had said, it was the Cowboys' day to win. The game lulled along for three quarters but finally exploded into an offensive spectacular in the fourth quarter, with the Cowboys winning a close one, 17-14.
Mostly at the insistence of the wives, Mary Sue and Pat, there was yet to be one more stop for them all before the weekend would stagger to a halt. Mary Sue and Pat noted, without an excess of enthusiasm, that they had not eaten a hot meal in two days. The Beefeater Inn would be nice, said Mary Sue, and it was seldom crowded on a Sunday evening.
"Got to have it," Joe said pleasantly. "Steak, asparagus, coffee and cognac. Got to have it right now." They were there in 20 minutes.
It was a quiet evening, spent mostly in reflection on the four games and all the people they had seen and in forgetting how much each had drunk.
A little less than two hours later, tired but full, aching but pleased, oversmoked, overlaughed, dusty-weary but all-victorious, they were home. All four teams had won, all four people had survived.
"Don't forget," said Joe, as he left Cecil and Pat, "we got to get away from here early Friday."
Pat said, "Are we really going to Little Rock for Texas-Arkansas?"