A new season

We heard it on our way home from vacation, as soon as we hit Alabama. 

Because we needed the room, we had taken the Escape.  We’d managed to avoid a family van when the Abandoned One was growing up, but turned to the SUV when he went off to college with six guitars.  It comes in handy to haul bikes, bales of peat moss, and on a driving vacation. 

It has lousy gas mileage and fails entirely in the entertainment department.  For years, CDs would get stuck in the player, but we’d  be able to insert a foreign object and trigger the eject function.  Now, one lives  inside permanently and the player refuses to function.  The Escape was purchased before cars came routinely equipped with an auxiliary input jack for the iPod, so that’s out too.  I might add that Lifelongnewyorker’s efforts to encourage family singalongs often go to nought.

So we’re left with radio and have learned to use the scan feature to separate the wheat from the chaff.  There’s plenty of chaff between here and Georgia.  Every other station is a Christian music station.  But there are quite a few public radio stations, often broadcast out of  colleges, that aren’t operating at 50,000 megawatts.  They have a short range, so we’re hitting the scan button frequently

Shortly after finding a station acceptable to both of us, the announcer came on to talk about the end of summer and the beginning of “Southern College Football Season.”  Yes, she said it like that.  With capitals.  A proper noun.

On my first day back at work, I was trying to find a mutually acceptable date for a meeting with a professor at Auburn, about 40 miles from Montgomery.  What about Friday, September 3? I suggested.  No, the college was off that day.  No, not because it was Labor Day weekend.  Because the first football game of the season was the next day.  They cancel classes the day before the football game.

That’s when I remembered the signs on I-85 near Auburn — they have three exits for the football traffic.

Meanwhile, pairs of flags began to sprout from cars in Montgomery.  The most common are red with a large A in white.  The first time I saw this I was confused that there were so many California Angels or Oakland A fans out here, but it turns out that these are University of Alabama fans.  Many of them have “Roll Tide” license plates.

Well, sure, Alabama and the Crimson Tide.  Even I have heard about them.  The Tide’s arch-rival is Auburn, whose color, I believe, is orange.  I’ve been told that one’s allegiance cannot be to both teams and that more than one new acquaintance is stopped dead  over the question: Alabama or Auburn? 

But wait, there’s more!  Local colleges Troy University, Alabama State, Tuskegee, and Huntingdon also play football.  I’ve checked online:  They all won this weekend.  

We’ve all heard about college football towns and how on football weekends the population swells by a million people.  That seems to work favorably for Montgomery, as the really big games–and stadiums–are in Tuscaloosa and Auburn.  All last week, one could see people preparing their cars for the big game, adding the flags, affixing stencils, stowing the coolers.  And sure enough, this weekend there seem to be very few cars, or people, left in town.

I’m not sure how this will all play out in the office tomorrow.  Lifelongnewyorker grew up in a household where the only male, my father, was seriously outnumbered by females.  When he was young, he said, he had followed baseball,  but he stopped when he came home from World War II because he no longer knew the players. He really missed Carl Hubbell.  Mr. NewYorker is a very serious  baseball fan, and, in the early years of our marriage I made an attempt to be companionable by attending to baseball.  It didn’t take.

So I’m one of those Americans who has no interest or knowledge of sports.  This was tough even in New York, and I understand that if I were male it would deny me access to the power structure and eventual world domination.  I have a feeling it’s going to be harder here. Last night, I asked a friend to explain the color system (I wanted to be sure those red flags were really crimson) and to give me some insight into what might lie ahead.

“Just be careful about what you wear,” she advised.  Apparently, it’s easy to innocently pick that orange sweater thinking you’re dressing well for the fall, be mistaken for an Auburn fan, and alienate half your colleagues.

Let’s see: yellow, orange, red, maroon.  Looks like I’ll be wearing a lot of blue and green.


One Response

  1. And then there’s high school football, the official sport of Texas. The parents are the most rabid people you will ever see.

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