By J.M. Comer
Your “faithful” columnist emerges from the bedroom, clearly just waking. His dreams? Troubled. It’s what, 12 p.m.? What the hell?!?! Doesn’t he have a job or something? He scratches his ass through his boxers and shuffles toward the bathroom. He appears surprised by your sudden appearance.
Oh, Jebus. Hey there. War Eagle. mumbles…
He runs his hand through his hair. Have a few gray hairs appeared since you’ve last seen him? The five days since the South Florida game has taken a small toll. If “half-assed” could somehow be embodied, you’re looking at it.
Ummm … I really don’t feel like comparing Auburn and Alabama’s two football teams this week. I’m a bit … uh … unmotivated. But I guess we can talk for a few minutes. You know … try to hash out something. Excuse me.
Entering the bathroom, the columnist relieves himself. Thankfully for you, gentle reader, he closes the door, making the awkward situation barely less so. He emerges, yawning.
AHHHHWWNNN. Let me put on some pants or something.
He takes some blue jeans that have been tossed on the guest bed and puts them on one leg at a time, like a sensible person oughtta. Loose change spills, rolling across the floor. He makes sure that the quarter that rolled under the bed doesn’t have Helen Keller on it. He likes to keep one in his wallet for good luck.
Let’s go downstairs and try to work some things out at the kitchen table.
As you descend the stairs you suddenly notice … what’s that smell? Bourbon, mothballs and wet dog? Is this house ever cleaned? We’ll have to make this visit short. Or continue it outside.
Sorry about that mothball smell. Our neighbor is divorced, mean, old and insane. She thinks the mothballs will keep the rats out of her house. My wife thinks she looks like Don Imus, which is a keen observation. Here’s a Red Bull. We’ll take ’em out to the backyard.
Doesn’t he have any coffee? Look! There’s a whole glass jar of unground coffee beans!
Sorry. I would make some coffee but my grinder is broken.
What’s going on in Alabama? I don’t really have a finger on the pulse of the state of things since I don’t live there anymore. What I gather is from blogs, newspapers, Web sites and, unfortunately, articles like this one. Let’s step outside into the light.
He opens his can of Red Bull and walks out into the backyard grabbing a computer printout of some article. Notes are written in the margins. Frantic, hate-filled notes. With red ink.
Take a seat. I just read this Rick Bragg piece in Sports Illustrated on Nick Saban a few days ago. I went into it looking to shred it as a piece of exaggerated garbage, but after finishing it I decided that it was an honest portrait of a desperate, backward fan base. But while I am a fan of Bragg’s two books “All Over But the Shoutin'” and “Somebody Told Me,” his lookame-I’mma-hick-with-book-learnin’ voice really gets on my nerves sometimes.
“Here we go,” you’re probably thinking. You roll your eyes and settle back into the lawn chair.
Oh c’mon. He’s part of the reason I’m a newspaperman. I have no ill will. I agree that he has earned a few things growing up like he did. He had a hard, poor childhood in Possum Trot. Raised by a single mother. Put himself through college at Jacksonville State and found his way into The New York Times newsroom by hacking away at stories in Alabama, but now he’s a professor at the enemy’s campus teaching journalism. Probably creating a well-written, crimson-wearing army of Jeff Foxworthys and Reba McEntires as we speak.
Anyway, I got into the second paragraph, the SECOND paragraph, and there was this:
He believes in the goodness and rightness of the Crimson Tide the way people who handle snakes believe in the power of God …
Who handles snakes nowadays? One hundred people on Sand Mountain? And BARF! “Goodness and rightness of the Crimson Tide”?!?!?
I had my defenses up after that. My skeptic meter was in the red. But Bragg can still observe and write with the best of them. He knows his people in Tuscaloosa, but I hate his crimson brethren. Bile would rise to my mouth reading stuff like this:
There was a swagger then. “I had an Auburn friend, Spiro Gregory (Speedy) Mastoras,” Fowler says. “He would tell me, after another Auburn loss [to Alabama], ‘Wait till year after next.’ He knew that next year was out of reach.”
What a shame it couldn’t last forever.
Whew. What a crap pile. What is that last sentence about? Does Professor Bragg want Alabama to win for eternity? I guess he’s firmly in the dark side’s camp.
Also, I was wondering last night: Who is Auburn’s Rick Bragg? Where is Auburn’s answer to Warren St. John’s “Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer”? I’m afraid we’re losing the war of the written word. Something has to be done. I think a lot of it stems from the Crimson-Tide-rah-rah tenure of Howell Raines as executive editor at The New York Times. He had a lot to do with both of these NYT writers landing book deals I’m sure.
As you look at your watch, he notices. You both get up from the chairs.
Yeah, this has gone on long enough. I’m a little anxious and unsure this week.
I hope we show up for the Mississippi State game. The Florida game is just around the corner and things need to start clicking. Fast. I can’t wait to see Mario Fannin on the field again. The game was electric when he was out there and not fumbling. Have you seen The Auburner’s Super Mario Fannin video? It’s very good. Very geeky.
And those Hogs need to win in Tuscaloosa to take the pressure off Auburn and take some of the luster off that new coach. Put Saban in the 0-1 SEC hole.
Also, a note to my friends and family, please contact Phillip Marshall if ever I need to be talked down from a ledge. It’s little stories like this one I’d like to draw attention to. The man just puts my football anxieties to rest and puts things into perspective for me. I’ve got to try and talk with him when I’m down in Auburn for the Iron Bowl. Also check out the note in the comments section from the reader that hitchhiked in the rain to see Auburn play Tennessee in 1958.
I’ll see you next week?
Both of you exchange a “War Eagle” at the door.