Thanksgiving is two days away. The Iron Bowl is four days away. While all of the other bloggers write about Thanksgiving, I choose to write about the Iron Bowl-the annual game between Auburn and Alabama; one of the biggest rivalries in college football.
As someone who was raised in South Alabama, I can attest to the fact that by the age of five years, each resident of the state is required to pledge allegiance to either one or the other: Auburn or Alabama. For most residents of the state, there are no other acceptable choices.
If you were raised in the Robbins family, as I was, you were required to pull for Auburn; that is, if you wanted to continue to eat, have clothing and shelter. For my childhood best friend, the requirement was to be an Alabama fan, if you wanted to continue to eat, have clothing and shelter. I could look over this, well, except for one day of the year.
Everyone in the state knows the choice of their friends, neighbors and co-workers. For this one week of the year, alliances are drawn upon the lines of loyalty to our team. One might even hang out with someone who isn’t particularly liked during the week building up to this very important game, which decides who has the bragging rights for a full year.
I have a friend from Texas who reports that she moved to Montgomery, Alabama as a teenager. Her father was in the military and was stationed there; he hoped to retire there. On the day that they moved in, there was a knock at the door. They answered, in hopes of receiving a huge welcome to their new neighborhood. Instead, a man stood there and asked them, “Who are you for?”
“What?! Who am I for?” she asked.
“Yes! Football! Which team are you for in college football--Auburn or Alabama?!,” he demanded.
She got a confused look on her face. She said, “Texas, why?”
Now he was the one with the confused look. “Texas?! You are for Texas?”
“Yeah,” she said. “I am from Texas and we pull for Texas in football.”
“Texas,” he said, still looking confused. “Ok, I’ll uh, see ya’ later.”
And with that last comment, he left. No more discussion. No “Welcome to the neighborhood” ….nothing. She said her dad decided not to retire there. She said that they never really felt like they blended in.
In Alabama, football schedules are consulted in the event of an important decision: weddings, parties, parades. Everyone knows that one doesn’t plan a wedding at the same time as the Iron Bowl. If, for example, someone from out of state didn’t understand and did plan one at that time, he or she would need to line up an out-of-state pastor, because none would be available in-state---not during this game. Also, all of your guests would need to be shipped in from out of state as well.
Funerals were completely out of the question at that time as well. No one would be there. There would be no pastor and no one to dig the grave. If you die around that time, rest assured that the funeral will not occur at the time of the game.
There were a few people who do shop, out of necessity. And, of course, there are the poor employees who are required to work. But, they usually are allowed to listen to the game as they work. A friend of mine from Florida had moved to Alabama for a couple of years. She was reportedly amazed when she went to a mall at the same time that the game was being played. She said that she was shopping and heard the score of the game announced over the loud speaker. She said everyone in the store erupted into one loud cheer. She said it made her jump. She said, “That never happened in Florida. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Now that I have explained the basics, I will tell more about the stunning, exciting history of the game on Thursday. You won’t want to miss it. What could be more interesting?
copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins