Thursday, January 31, 2013

More salad, please

"These were the happy days, the salad days as they say..."
~ Raising Arizona

My typical January blahs lacked their usual bite this winter.  And I have a couple of theories as to why.

One is that the blahs are holding off until February when I turn that age which shall not be spoken, thus in all probability entering a mid-life crisis the likes of which the world has scarcely seen, at which point my usual winter depression will last indefinitely, or longer.

The other has to do with the fact that this particular January has included a beautiful 2-inch snow (school was out for two days) and yet another Bama national championship.  To slightly reword the song, those are but two of my favorite things.  So I spent a decent portion of the month on cloud ten.

The man most responsible for this -- the football, not the snow, well not as far as I know anyway -- is Nicholas Lou Saban.

I nearly titled this post, "Have you ever really, really really ever loved a man?"  Because I have.  I do.  I love this man.  And I'm not ashamed to admit it.

If I would've had a Nick Saban in my formative years... who knows where I'd be right now?  I'd probably own a small country.  Or at least an E-Trade account.

These are the new glory days.  Three national championships in four seasons.  Are you kidding me??  My life has never been better.  As a sports fan, I mean.  (Important caveat there.)  These are my salad days.

For better or for worse, folks around these parts place a fair amount of importance on our college football, and, more specifically, our Crimson Tide.  I would even go so far as to say that for a majority of people in this state, their top three priorities are God, family, and Alabama football.  And not always in that order.

I just assumed it was that way everywhere.  It's kinda like the first time you leave the South and discover they don't have sweet tea in other places.  But in my golden years, I've come to realize that for many, many people, football is nothing more than a dalliance. (You have no idea how long I've been trying to work "dalliance" into a post.)

Just as I never thought to write about the delights of sweet tea, I've not written about Bama football from this angle.  So allow me to tell you a few things about our organization.

"Roll, Tide" is our cheer.  Maybe you've heard of it.  If not, you can hear it from 100,000 fans inside Bryant-Denny Stadium on most Saturdays in the fall, or in a million living rooms across the state on those same Saturdays, where families gather around televisions, and sometimes radios, hoping for another Bama victory, high-fiving and yes, roll-tiding after every big play.

But it's not just a cheer.  It can be a greeting, a better way to say "goodbye," even a question.  Say you've had a minor misunderstanding with someone.  After talking things out, you might say, "Roll Tide?" instead of "We good?"  And they might respond with, "Roll Tide" instead of "Yeah, we're good."

You might hear it from someone you pass in a convenience store, or your postal carrier.  You hear it at school and at work, where people wear their Bama gear on Fridays during the season.  Every Friday.  Not saying we're superstitious or anything, but if you didn't wear your Bama shirt and they were to lose that weekend, well good luck reconciling with your family.

I've heard it from a hotel front-desk clerk in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a McDonald's drive-thru attendant in Nowhere, Tennessee.  I've even heard it from a pulpit on Sunday, several times. (Is it any wonder those faith and football priorities get muddled occasionally?)

Hear it from a stranger, and you've instantly made a lifelong friend.

It's an aura that hangs in the air of this state like the heavy blanket of humidity on a summer night.  A commonality.  And a source of pride.

You didn't have to attend the university to get it.  We get it from our mothers and our fathers, our uncles and aunts, or maybe our granddaddy, our older brother or sister.  One of my favorite all-time family photos is of my aunt as a teenager in the '60s, wearing a Bama t-shirt.  Some pick it up on their own, attend their first game, and fall in love.

However you get it, once it's in you, it's lifelong.  For better or for worse.  In sickness and in health.  Good seasons and bad.  'Til death do you part.

Is it too important?  That probably all depends on who you ask.  But is it important?  No question.

My Mom once loved a man who wasn't my father.  His name was Bear Bryant.  He became coach of the Crimson Tide when she was 8, and he retired and passed away when I was 9.  An entire generation.  He won a few championships, too. Six, to be exact.

So the morning after this year's Bama team had showed them northern boys from Notre Dame what real football was, I was talking to Mom and decided to ask her if this was how it was then.  If these glory days were as good as the old glory days.

Now this is a woman who, before and during many a football game, has been known to utter the statement, "Please look down on us today, Bear," as if soliciting some divine intervention.  The same mother who apparently trained me so that when a Sunday school teacher showed me a picture that was supposed to be Jesus walking on water and asked who it was, I replied, "That's Bear Bryant.  My Momma says he is the only person who can walk on water."

So when I asked her, "Is this how it was in the old days?" the answer I got was not the answer I expected.

After first scolding me for intimating she was old, she kind of laughed as she said, "No.  We never won like this."

Roll Tide?

Roll. Tide.

"I'm feelin' pretty good and that's the truth / It's neither drink nor drug induced, no / I'm just doin' alright / And it's a great day to be alive..."


  1. I've got the Friday Blahs.

  2. I'm waiting on a post about the delights of sweet tea :) I probably could have written one after my summer in... well, that place I won't mention. It was the ONLY good thing that came out of it, as far as I was concerned.

    (Now I want some sweet tea if you can't tell.)

    The whole "salad days" thing threw me off, not going to lie. I had to use your friend, Wik-I-Pedia to help me figure it out. For some reason, salad sounds lean to me - like these should be the steak days or something.

    I'm glad your Januarys weren't that bad, and my fingers are crossed, for you and for everyone that spends time with you, that your Februarys aren't either :)

    PS: Notre Dame is located in Indiana. That's the Midwest. Just a friendly geography tip :)

    (See also: flyover states.)

  3. Bah another football post. ;o)

  4. MarkD - There are Friday blahs???

    TC - Well, I'm waiting for a post about anything from the Traveling Chica. Boom! Roasted :)

    To my knowledge, "salad days" is originally from Shakespeare, but has been bastardized a bit so that it may now refer to any period of prosperity, happiness, accomplishment, etc.

    I nearly put "midwesterners" but I knew you'd enjoy it so much more if I used "northern." Hey, at least I refrained from using "Yankee."

    Renee - Well, I used a cryptic title to try and throw you off. How long did it take you to figure it out? :)

  5. Good post. Did I share with you that post by Rick Bragg on 'Bama football?

    I kind of felt smug here, only 2 hours from South Bend, the day after the game. The local Father (from the Catholic Church, who has a ND flag out in front of his house) failed to show up for breakfast that next morning after your Alabama boys beat up on the Papists. Normally, I'd be crowing about the Carolina basketball, but this year it seems like I might be eating crow. They're still winning, but not enough.

  6. For some reason, the idea of people saying "Roll tide" all over the place makes me think of the Blues Brothers song... Rolling, rolling, rolling... roll tide! Which makes me smile :)

  7. See the preview only shows up to the second I though I was safe.

    Good job of luring me in there.

  8. 1. 40 is the new 30, and since time keeps passing faster and faster, 50 is the new 35. DON'T argue with this, I'll be counting on it when I turn---35!
    2. School cancelled for 2 inches of snow??? When I was a kid...never mind.
    3. My life would be richer if I had that kind of non-dalliance. I've never loved that kind of man. *sigh*

    That said, I'm taking the Monday after Superbowl off. Gettin' to close to um, 35 to pull of the next morning.

  9. A few years ago, when the BCS Championship was at the Rose Bowl, there were a TON of Bama fans walking around and I happened to be in Pasadena at the time (which is where I bought you the hat, I believe). The amount of time I spent saying "Roll Tide" to complete strangers amused my So Cal friends to no end.

  10. Sage - I thought I shared it with you? lol

    I'd have sent you a Bama shirt to wear to the breakfast had I known! Yeah, I've always kinda rooted from Carolina from afar since Jordan played. I wasn't sure what was going on with them the last couple of years.

    J Adamthwaite - That's exactly what I was going for with this post. *grin*

    Renee - Ah, so now I know. No mention of sports in the first two paragraphs from now on.

    Actonbell - 1. I won't dare argue. It's just, I liked the old 30 just fine.
    2. Yep. That's not even the worst. Sometimes, they cancel it just due to the possibility of snow.
    3. Well, mine may very well be unrequited. Although he always seems to give me just what I need, so perhaps it is requited.

    Xinh - Yes!! This is one of my favorite five comments you've ever left :) And it definitely deserves a "Roll Tide!"

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  12. There's really only one thing TO say: Roll Tide.

  13. sorry your b'day falls mid week - ish Come to the Gulf and celebrate Mardi Gras this weekend! That will get you out of your winter blahhhh's. I'll be there!
    Oh and your man crush- I have it on good authority, that other 40-ish age men - and older have the same crush. I dont have the same crush.
    Happy Birthday!

  14. Hilarious. Beautiful. Boneified.
    For some reason I got real scared in that tenth of a second when I read the part about your mother loving a man who wasn't your father--and I should have known : )

  15. So sad that there are places in America without sweet tea....and I always forget and order tea, and then end up with hot tea which isn't appealing at all. Anyway, fun to check in on your blog! And I was nervous about your mom loving someone else too.....