“oh yeah, i totally know!” that was my flippant response when anyone warned me of the devout loyalties for football in alabama. even though i am a tennessee native, i have been an auburn fan for 15+ years. i have learned the fight song, greeted other fans with “war eagle, bought my dog an auburn sweater, and instinctively knew i was to have a disdain for a crimson shade of red. i really thought i had a grasp for how deep the rivalry ran. then, i moved to alabama. the following are just a few educational moments about alabama football i have had in the last six months.
– at one of my welcome dinners i was handing out plastic forks to some kids. when a little boy walked up, i knew the pink one in my hand wouldn’t be well received. i said, “let me get you another color fork. is orange okay?” he immediately grabbed the orange fork and said, “i can only eat with orange. i can’t use red. i am for auburn.”
– my first month on the job i was planning a special event for a sunday in the fall. i sat down with a co-worker and the first thing she said was, “pull up the sec calendar on your computer.” thinking she forgot this event was for a sunday not a saturday, i looked at her puzzled and asked, “you mean the church calendar, right?” “no, the sec calendar” she said without missing a beat. i was the new girl and wanted to be respectful as i reminded her that my event was on sunday, not saturday. the games surely would not interfere with this one time event on a sunday morning. she gently explained to me that while the games were played on saturday, birmingham people faithfully travel to auburn and tuscalossa. for the best attendance, i needed to find the best combination of an away game and an easy win for the home team. who knew that the first calendar i would reference at my new church would be the one for the southeastern conference?
– after a great meeting and many meaningful questions from some church leaders i was being introduced to, i was asked, “have you made your allegiance yet?” i knew exactly what he meant. i immediately answered with my love for the deeper shade of orange. (not to be confused with the neon orange of tennessee.) half the room smiled, while the other half sighed.
– my favorite experience just happened to take place during my first wreck in birmingham. a friend and coworker (that happens to be a tuscaloosa native) came to pick my assistant (an auburn grad) and me up as the wrecker arrived to tow my mangled car. she reminded us to get everything out of the car, because i didn’t know when i would see my car again. she was right. so, all three of us started grabbing things out of my car. with our hands full, my assistant and i looked at our friend in hopes she would grab the last thing left in the car — my auburn umbrella. what happened next was so surprising it brought giggles during this unhappy moment. our friend, the one whose purpose was to come and help us after we were stranded by the wreck, looked at both of us with a straight face and said, “i am not picking up that umbrella!” “seriously,?” i said. “you came to help. you were the one to remind us to clear everything out of the car, but because the umbrella is auburn you won’t pick it up?” she didn’t budge. so, my assistant proudly grabbed her alma mater’s umbrella and we have yet to let our friend live down how “helpful” she was the day of my wreck.
there are many other stories. like the fact that i can’t wear my grandmothers vintage houndstooth coat without hearing “roll tide.” (i may have to start wearing an orange scarf with it.) my niece came home after her second week here this summer asking if we are war eagle or roll tide. (i immediately bought her an auburn t-shirt.) i could go on and on, but i share this to prove i really had no clue how passionate alabama folks are about their football. so with the bcs national championship game approaching and after a sad, sad auburn season, i so want to root for those little fighting irish men. i mean their gold helmets are so sparkly and who can forget rudy? as much as i want to root against the tide, i just can’t. there are just too many “bammer” people in my life i love. plus, as a new alabama resident i would love to see the state get another national championship. so while i can’t bring myself to utter a genuine “roll tide”, i will be cheering hard for the sec and counting down the days until the next college football season. (war eagle!)
update: after proofing my blog, my auburn grad assistant has disowned me and says i am NEVER to cheer for them bammers. oh how i love a good rivalry.