Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Who You For?

Way back in 1987, my family moved to Alabama. Being an Air Force brat, moving to a new state and enrolling a new school was nothing new. Every time my dad got a new assignment, our entire family uprooted and moved thousands of miles to a strange land, where I quickly had to adapt and learn the customs of the locals. On my first day of school at Stanhope Elmore High in Millbrook, Alabama, I found myself sitting alone at lunch in the cafeteria. It was a rainy and cold January and I was a lowly freshman, surrounded by unfamiliar faces and unsure of my place in the tiny school. I had just moved from California, so in my mind this small town school was about as backwards as you could get. As I sat there eating my lunch in solitude, a stranger walked up to me and said, "Hey, kid, you new here?" I nodded. He replied, "Who you for?" I had no idea what he was talking about, so I responded, "For what? What are you talking about?" The kid looked at me like I was a moron. "Auburn or Alabama," he said in a defiant tone, as if I knew what that meant. "I don't know," was all I could say. I had no idea what he was talking about. He scoffed at me and said, "Well, you better pick one." Then he walked away.

This was my introduction to the rivalry that is Auburn vs. Alabama. I learned very fast that pretty much everything in this state revolves around the eternal competition between these two schools. And I do mean everything. It baffles me to no end that marriages have crumbled, friendships have been destroyed, and self-worth has been determined by which of these two schools one roots for. Not only that, but I have found that the most vocal and vitriolic of fans are usual ones that have never even gone to college! But, it's part of the culture here and so, in my attempt to fit in (as I have tried to do in every place I've lived), I decided to root for Auburn. Why? Because I liked their colors better. Arbitrary? Sure. But then again, what about this rivalry isn't arbitrary? I don't even like football all that much, so it made little difference to me who won the Iron Bowl every year. I never lived in one place long enough to develop an affinity for any team, college or pro. So it always seemed odd that people in Alabama get so riled up about this sort of thing. But, that's what they do, so who am I to judge? I'm just a transfer student so to speak. I get a lot of laughs watching the super-fans on both sides spend time, effort, and energy trying to tear down the other side in the name of "sportsmanship" and "bragging rights." If people need something to belong to, who am I to judge?

Well, all that changed today when I read about "Al from Dadeville" who claimed on some radio call-in sports show that he had intentionally poisoned a couple of 130 year-old oak trees in Toomer's Corner, Auburn. I guess he was upset that Auburn won the national championship or some such nonsense, so he went out of his way to kill two perfectly harmless trees next to a drug store in a town he doesn't even live in. Sigh. Over the many years I've lived in Alabama, I've come to consider it my home. It's where my parents retired and bought a house. It's where I graduated high school. It's where I met my wife, and a host of friends I still have to this day. And I've tolerated the rivalry between Auburn and Alabama, mostly because it seemed like harmless fun that a bunch of locals used to identify themselves with. But this is the most ridiculous and absurd thing I have ever heard. Honestly. Some idiot in Dadeville hates Auburn so much he decided to kill a couple of trees? I doubt this asshat has ever set foot on a college campus (well, except for the one time he murdered those oaks in Toomer's Corner).

So if I could go back in time to that rainy day in 1987 and answer that kid who asked me, "Who you for?" my response would be, "The trees. Now fuck off. I'm trying to eat my lunch."


Joe said...

Perfect conclusion, Mike...well done!

Dan W said...

It wasn't me. I didn't start talking to you til that evening. And I chose Auburn for pretty much the same reason. That and Laura was for Bama at the time, screwing with her was my favorite pasttime.

Dan W said...

It wasn't me. I didn't start talking to you til that afternoon on the bus.

I chose Auburn for the same reason, that and Laura was for Bama. Screwing with her was my favorite pasttime.

Nemo Delictus said...

Nice! We have the same thing in Texas between UT and A&M... idiot lunacy.