When I heard that a fan of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide had written a book, my first response was to wonder how many crayons he used. The guy is a Columbia grad, so I guess he probably had the 64-count box.
This little quip may explain why I no longer live in Alabama. You may think this a bit of an exaggeration, but college football in that state rivals the Southern Baptist Church in terms of zealousness. I've often said that the best time to rob a bank in Birmingham is on the Saturday of the Alabama-Auburn game. Then again, I don't think any of the banks and very few businesses in the state are open on that day.
By all rights, I should be an Alabama fan. My dad raised me to be one, probably would have bumper stickered my infant head had he thought about it. Dad has all of the fanatic items: the tie for the day-after-a-victory Sunday service at church; a flag to fly off of the house, the elephant head inside of a capital A; collector's edition Coke bottles celebrating key victories; and plenty of hats. I'm actually surprised that he doesn't require his employees to take an oath to the Crimson Tide after hiring them. On top of all of this, Dad is a Bryant. For all of you non-football fans, that name may not mean much, but in the state of Alabama it's akin to being a Kennedy (well, without the privileges). For Bama fans, the name conjures up the glory days of multiple national championships and undefeated seasons. Mention Bryant in Alabama and people think of hound's-tooth hats, a grumbly voice, 322 victories, and Alabama football.
So what happened to this Bryant? Simply put, I backslid. I followed the path of the in-laws; I chose the soaring War Eagle over the dumb-looking elephant, tiger over tide. I must have become an Auburn fan early enough that I don't remember my dad's disappointment when I started saying "War Eagle" on Saturday afternoons, but I imagine that he's probably shed a few tears over his lost son. I have heard him say to friends, "See what happens when you drop a kid on his head?"
My dad still loves me. He and I don't speak on that one day in November, sometimes for days afterward. We generally avoid conversations about that game altogether. I think he holds out hope that one day I'll come to my senses. He probably has the bumper sticker picked out for me.
*I don't remember the source of this quote, but I once read it in an interview of a rabid SEC football fan.