I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It was a perfect weekend here. Thursday was Thanksgiving (you know, in case you somehow missed that), I took off work Friday, I golfed, and I attended the Bama game on Saturday.
But there could have been a massive cranberry shortage causing them to cancel Thanksgiving. Golf could have been rained out. I could have had to work over finishing up my TPS reports. And it still would have been perfect.
Why? I can answer that question with two words and two numbers.
Alabama 36, Auburn 0.
That's right. The magical mystery season continued Saturday with a thrashing of our cross-state rivals. They're calling it the Beatdown In T-Town. And who am I to argue? Nothing short of Jason Morgan leaving General Hospital could have made this weekend anything less than perfect.
To fully convey what the Alabama/Auburn game means to persons in this state would be impossible. For many years, the success and tradition of the Crimson Tide served as a source of pride for the state. College football is king here. "Are you for Alabama or Auburn?" is literally a more popular conversation topic than discussing the weather. Why, I posed that very question to a cute waitress at my favorite theme restaurant this past Friday night. When you add to that the fact that you are playing your in-state rival--whose fans you have to see Sunday morning at church or Monday at work--suffice it to say that it's a big game.
Alabama and Auburn first played one another in football in 1893, without helmets!!! (Oh, wait a second. Apparently no one played with helmets back then.) The teams played eleven times between 1893-1907, before a dispute between the schools caused the series to end. The teams would not play again until 1948.
During the forty year hiatus--which by the grace of God I was not alive for--several attempts were made to resume the series. At one time, Alabama's Board of Trustees was against the resumption, saying that an Auburn-Alabama rivalry would lead to an overemphasis of football in the state of Alabama. Hmm, ya think?
When I was but a lad, and Alabama would beat Auburn, we would load up in the car and drive to a sporting goods store thirty minutes away. There we would stand in line with anywhere from thirty to fifty other fans waiting for "score shirts" from the game to literally roll off the press.
The "score shirts" would obviously have the score of the game, and usually some really cheesy slogan. The one that sticks out in my mind for some reason is "No Sugar Bowl Cause The Tide Did Roll." (cringe) And we bought these. And wore them. Proudly.
Nowadays when we beat Auburn I'm just exorbitantly happy. And if we lose, I typically go into my room, bury my head in a pillow, and refuse to answer the phone or have any contact with the outside world for two or three hours. I'm so glad I've matured over the years.
As I stated earlier, to fully convey what the Alabama/Auburn game means to the people of this state would be impossible. Though perhaps the following scene can shed a bit of light.
One of the popular outbound routes from Tuscaloosa is Highway 13. It's a two-lane road that winds around curves and over hills. Over about a sixty-mile stretch there are maybe four gas stations, a couple of roadside diners, and not much else.
Coming home Saturday night, there was an uncommon sight in front of one of the diners. Out near the road, in the light of one of those yellow portable marquee signs, two women and three children were standing. Thirty miles from anywhere, at 8 o'clock at night, there they were. Just standing and waving at the train of cars traveling home from the game.
We honked as we passed by. Because though it might be impossible to put into words, somehow we understood why they were out there. And as strange as it might have seemed to someone else, to us it made perfect sense.
"Go roll to victory. Hit your stride. You're Dixie's football pride, Crimson Tide..."