Crisis of Fandom: Tiger or Tide

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Train up a fan in the way she should roll, and when she is old she will not depart from it…

I Hesitations 17

I’ve had a crisis of fandom recently.  And it’s time I opened up about it.  Trigger warning: if you are not from the SEC, you may not understand.

See, I remember hearing someone once say: In the north, football is a sport; in the Midwest, it’s a pastime; but in the south, it’s a religion.  So I’m sharing my testimony.

I was raised in a Crimson Tide family.  My father is a Tide fan and a former student, my mother is a tide fan and former student, and my grandfather was a tide Fan and former student.  My dad was a GTA at the same time Wimp Sanderson was in grad school, and they were friends (maybe that explains my father’s horrible plaid pant phase…).  In fact, my mother grew up in Tuscaloosa, and she says she didn’t know there was another school in Alabama until she was ten (smile).  My brother attended The University for a while, and I even worked on a PhD there.  You might say I am the Bama equivalent of a preacher’s kid.  I grew up saying roll tide, loving read and hound’s-tooth, and went to every home game when I was a student.  I knew how many wins Bear Bryant had, and I had a soft spot for Lyke’s hot dog loving Gene Stallings.

I was a faithful follower of the Crimson Tide

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Then I changed.  I’ll chalk it up to peer pressure.  You see, I lived in Auburn for 10 years.  It’s a great town with great people.  I taught elementary school there, and living in a sea of orange and blue….well, it’s no fun living in a sea of orange and blue and trying to wear crimson.  Kinda like being the only one with no Zima at that high school party.  And so I eased over into Tigerdom.  I bought the shirts, I waved the pompoms, I shouted War Eagle.  I even rolled my eyes at that vein of more obnoxious Bama fans.

I was a zealous convert.

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Yes, forgive me Saban, for I have sinned.  It has been 16 years since my last wearing of hound’s-tooth.

Say ten Roll Tides, my child, and attend a ballgame party, and I shall absolve thee.

So now that I’m back in my home town, and my life has changed somewhat, and I am, after all connected to The University, at least tangentially, every day, it is time.  Time to change.  Time to return to my roots and my raising.  Time to bleed crimson anew.

I called my mom last week and told her I was probably going to become a Bama fan again. I could hear her smiling through the phone.

“Your father will be so proud!”

Roll Tide!

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Behind the Defiance

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Behind the defiance, a cold, empty space;

And I see it under the sneer on your face.

You say I’m irrelevant, dust on a shelf,

But with every word, you’re indicting yourself.

You rail you’re in charge and yourself you control,

But inside, you desperately long to be whole.

You veil with dismissal, and flip disrespect,

But your words reveal discontent you reflect.

While treating what’s good with eye rolls and disdain,

I see you attempting to hide from your pain.

The mocking, the sideways remarks made with glee –

But I know the target is not really me.

I’m not the real problem; I just play a part.

I’m merely a mirror reflecting your heart.

And it is not judgment that creates these rhymes

It’s sad resignation that these are the times.

And while the throng cheers at this upside-down world,

I’ll gladly take all of the insults when hurled.

It’s not condescension that creates this verse;

It’s fear of the truth that’s behind every curse.

For anger and apathy oftentimes hides

The emptiness that in a cold heart resides.

So I’ll take the bruises and every harsh blow

Because in the end there’s a comfort I know.

That even though now we may call darkness light,

The story’s not over, and truth wins the fight.

Yes, I’ll be a scapegoat if that’s what you need,

And inside I’ll pray that someday you’ll be freed.