Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Auburn and Me: A Love Story

After the disaster that was Alabama/Auburn Day 1988, I always had a t-shirt for Alabama/Auburn day, and my decision of which team's colors I would wear was based on pleasing my constituents. I found that if I wore Auburn colors, other Auburn kids paid little attention, and Alabama kids were belligerent. If I wore Alabama colors, Auburn kids still paid little attention, and Alabama kids' behavior towards me was much more favorable. For those reasons, I called myself an "Alabama Fan" until middle school.

The truth was, over time I really had grown to prefer Auburn over Alabama. Auburn and LSU were both "Tigers", which felt natural, and as I was blossoming into womanhood, I couldn't help but recognize that Auburn's colors of orange and blue were much more flattering to my hair color and complexion than Alabama's crimson and white. Auburn was geographically further from Birmingham, which appealed to my independent side, and their fans, while warm and welcoming, generally didn't push their agenda on me. They weren't trying so hard to win me over, and I found their indifference alluring. It felt like Auburn was shrouded in a cloud of mystery. This intrigued me, and made me want Auburn all the more.

Auburn: The Mr. Big to my Carrie
 Did I choose Auburn based on colors, mascots, geography, and playing hard-to-get? Pretty much. I was a kid. How was I supposed to base my decision? I thought both schools were great, academically. I couldn't base my decision on their varied curriculum, because I didn't know what I wanted to be. I just knew where I wanted to be. Incidently, I still don't know what I want to be.

Most of my childhood friends were Alabama fans, and I tried really hard to be an Alabama fan. Crimson Tide football is exhilarating, the kinship that exists amongst the fans is evident and their enthusiasm is infectious. As a transplant into the state of Alabama, it would have been easier to become an Alabama fan. They have a rich tradition, including Bear Bryant and now 12 National Championships, and the most intense fans I have ever encountered. Why wouldn't I want to be a part of that? One could justify being an Alabama fan if for no other reason than it is easier to be "with them" than "against them".
"So it's not gonna be easy. It's gonna be really hard. We're gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day...would you stop thinking about what everyone wants? Stop thinking about what I want, what he wants, what your parents want. What do YOU want? What do you WANT?"

I could go on and on about why I chose Auburn instead of Alabama, but I'll let another "Sam" explain it. Sam Baldwin from Sleepless in Seattle, of course:
"Well, it was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together...and I knew was like coming home...only to no home I'd ever known. It was like...magic. "

It was like magic, just like Tom Hanks said. I promised you a love story, and by George, you're getting a love story!

I visited Tuscaloosa and Auburn many times, and when I was in Auburn, I felt at home in my surroundings, and when Auburn won, I found myself caring more. During one visit to Auburn, I was attending the Iron Bowl as an Alabama fan, with Alabama fans, and Alabama won. I found myself gazing into Auburn's student section and wanting to be part of it. That's when I realized I'd rather lose with Auburn than win with Alabama. It's the only way to be an Auburn fan, since any Alabama fan will quickly point out that they are historically more victorious than Auburn. I guess my love for Auburn is less about the winning (though the winning is really fun) and more about the spirit of Auburn, the quaint and lovely town, and the people.
 "I'd rather fight with you than make love with anyone else."

As for the Iron Bowl? It's always a day I just have to get through. I have never enjoyed it. Whether the game is played in Tuscaloosa or Auburn, whether Auburn wins or loses, I always manage to wander past the wrong tailgate and get verbally assaulted and physically threatened. I don't have a thick enough skin to withstand the intensity. It's like staring at the sun.


  1. I wont say much here...because I don't want to be a hater but I must correct you, we have 13 National Championships now. Nothing but love for you.

  2. Oh snap, Sarah Beth! You're absolutely right. My apologies. I think I meant to refer to the number of Bama national championships at the time I enrolled at Auburn, but I should have clarified. You're one of my favorite Bama fans! Xoxo