Sunday, December 28, 2008

I'm from the South - and here's how I know

My cousin's wedding had a 3-hour intermission during an Alabama-Auburn game

My first word was "Bama" and my sister's first word was "Tide"

I eat grits with salt and butter; sugar is for Yankees and we call that "cream of wheat"

My aunt had a debutante coming out party in Atlanta

I've worn a sundress to an Alabama football game

My grandfather's prototype microwave was taken to the repair shop and in the meantime, he bought a new one and took it back when the old one was fixed

Most of my family members have two names: Ray Bo, Mary Beth, Sunny Ann, John Paul, Janie Carol, John Michael, Mary Anna

I can set a 5-course meal place setting for 20 with linen napkins, wine glasses, water glasses, tea glasses and coffee cups with saucers in less than 10 minutes

My parents have actually "bondo'd" a car and driven it like that

The house I grew up in had an outhouse by the barn in case the new plumbing didn't work

I say words like "fixin," "all yall," "Momma," and describe driving directions with words like "down the road," "take a left at the huge oak," and "if you've hit the creek, you've gone too far."

As far as I know, there is no other football league or conference outside the SEC
Also as far as I know, there is no other baseball team besides the Braves

My Alabama history class in the seventh grade consisted of a trip to a Civil War Reenactment

I call everyone older than me "Sir" or "Ma'am"

When it looks like snow, I don't drive because the crazy people racing to grab the last of the milk and bread don't know how to

I call anyone who lives above the Mason-Dixon line a "Yankee" and sometimes that includes those border state folks

And lastly, I can carry on a conversation with any stranger anywhere about family, church and gossip without hurting anyone's feelings or truly giving away any information, "Bless her heart."

Monday, December 22, 2008

What do rabbit ears and Bama football have in common? NOTHING!! - Finale

My friend Dan says I'm stretching out this story and he's dying to know if I got to see what was arguably Alabama's biggest game of this season. So for the sake of his children who benefit greatly from their fantastic father's presence on the earth, here goes:

Steve, Patrick and Brad are outside fiddling with the HD antenna, climbing up on the roof for more elevation and grunting to each other inside the Martian cave. Eyeballing each other in that way that only girls understand, Leslie and I walk away from watching them out the window. She grabs the yellow pages. I grab the phone. Calling Buffalo Wild Wings, I put our name on the list. The background noise of loud televisions, clanking dishes and shouting crowds tell me that even though the teenage girl on the phone promises we can get in, it will never happen.

Pulling the plug on "The Adventures of the HD Antenna," I lean out the window and let Patrick know it's time to pack it in. The screen is still black and he and the guys gave it the best effort anyone could ask for. I hated to do it but the reason I finally make this call is the red-faced, steaming ears, two-legged creature pacing the floors of my house. The fanatical animal decked out from head to toe in crimson and white is my favorite sister. To be fair, she never actually SAID anything to me about the fact that she was about to miss this game. But everyone knows that actions are much louder than words. She's rattling keys, holding her purse and eyeballing me. It's time to go.

As fast as I can drive without killing anyone, I turn the radio to the Bama Sports Network to keep her listening to Eli Gold's play-by-play as I race through traffic to Buffalo Wild Wings. I sling up to the door and she jumps out. As Caiden and I walk into the restaurant after parking the car, I realize by the size and sounds of the restaurant patrons, there is NO WAY we'll be sitting down. Janie is in her usual position. Arms crossed, jaw set, she's standing right in front of the closest tv. I hesitate to even approach but she did smile at me as I sidled up and grinned apologetically. Leslie's already talked to the hostess -- 1 big group in front of us. But a 3-hour game just started. Steve is working the phones for another wings place. I'm working my sister to make sure she allows her niece to grow up with a mom.

Florida scores first and the mood darkens. Half the room erupts in cheers. I sigh. Steve gets a hold of Wingers and they have lots of room. We race through the double doors and the crimson crowds outside go crazy as Julio Jones makes a wild 64-yard Alabama catch near the end zone. I get the car and once again we're off to the races. Eli Gold is shouting again on the Bama Sports Network and finally he explodes with the first Bama touchdown. Janie screams. I almost run off the road. She high-fives me. I break a nail on the roof of the car. She's happy. I'm happy. Wingers has plenty of room. Plenty of beer. Plenty of wings. And a huge big screen tv that we have practically to ourselves.

Florida ends up winning but Bama played a great 3 quarters. My Christmas lights didn't get up until the next day. But they did get up and we did get to see the game. A tremendous effort by Patrick and the guys--their perseverance alone probably would have paid off if I'd given them time. But in the end, we met the goal: Bama football, beers, wings and a happy sister!

What makes a snob?

I like to eat off of plates. Not the paper kind but the kind made out of cold, hard glass or china. I like to eat at restaurants that have linen napkins but I also like to eat great, messy BBQ that requires a paper towel roll. I like to eat seafood that isn't fried -- especially stuffed shark and cold shrimp. I like my hotel rooms to have doors that open to the inside not the outside. Some of that is for security reasons and some of that is because the beds aren't lumpy and the bathrooms aren't moldy. I love to travel. I love to read. I love plays and I love Shakespeare. My English teacher mother was fanatical about expanding her kids' vocabulary, so I use words with more than 2 syllables from time to time.

All of these things make me a snob. That's what I was told. Snotty, snooty, uppity--and only because he doesn't know the word "pretentious."

Here's the kicker: I was raised to treat people the way I wanted to be treated. Everyone has a place in the world and no one's place is better than anyone else's. People have likes and dislikes and just because they aren't the same as mine doesn't make them worthless; it makes them interesting. Everyone you meet is going through something. Recognizing that life is hard and people just want to feel like someone gives a damn about them is part of the human experience.

So here's what I have to say. Get a new definition of "snob." My likes and dislikes make me who I am as a person. And I want to be proud of being me, not sorry for it. I want to share all the neat things I like and the cool things I've gotten to do. And I want to continue to learn from people who are different from me. Relationships are what keeps us from being lonely. They are what drives us to get up every day to be able to share that day with someone who cares about us.

I think it is sad that he judges me for what interests me and not for who I am. Because it says his worth in life is based on things we can't take with us when it's over. I hope his cold bed of Judge Judy, paper plates and fried shrimp keep him happy because he's robbing himself of the opportunity to experience life beyond his comfortable, little world where he sits on his throne and judges me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What do rabbit ears and Bama football have in common? NOTHING -- Part III

So biggest football game of the year. Sister who will kill me if she can't watch it. Friends coming over. Chili to make. Christmas lights to hang. No CBS television.

"I've got medicine for the tv," Patrick says as he walks back in from Best Buy. As he starts pulling boxes out of plastic bags, all I see are tons of wires, an enormous metal V-looking thing and a blank TV screen. Rather than interfere, I find anything else to do. Patrick starts running wires out my living room window and hooking up the new gray box to something on the tv cabinet. About this time, Brad shows up. One hour to game time.

Brad laughs when he sees the mess and comments that he just figured out why the Christmas lights weren't already up. Jumping right in, he takes the new antenna outside to a "high" spot in the yard. Evidently, the signal will get stronger if its outside and elevated. Climbing up on my daughter's swingset, he places it at the top of the slide. I sigh and go back to doing anything else.

All I hear for the next 10 minutes is "try something else!" as Patrick flips channels back and forth, pushes buttons and through his chanting, wills CBS to work. Outside, Brad twists the antenna one way and then another, a few degrees at a time, in the vain hope that a new angle will help. Finally, Patrick comes in asking for a ladder. He's decided more elevation should do it. Evidently, the closer the antenna is to Heaven, the more likely my prayers will be answered.

The clang and clatter of the metal ladder ring through the backyard as they prop it up against the roof. Up goes Brad and shouts come from the frontdoor. Steve and Leslie have shown up. Steve is dressed for hanging lights, according to Leslie. Fortunately, his jogging pants and sweatshirt are well-suited for climbing on roofs, so beating his chest and grunting, out the backdoor he goes to be with the men. It's 15 minutes to game time, Leslie looks at me and I just shake my head.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Power of a Hug

There is one thing that tells us we aren't alone in the world. One thing that tells us we are cared for and that we care for others. And in the smallest way, it tells us that we matter in this world.

It says, "Hello" and "Goodbye."

It says, "I missed you" and "I care about you."

It says, "Congratulations!"

It says, "Things will be OK."

It says, "I'm so happy for you!"

It says, "I love you" and it says, "I'm here for you."

It is such a small thing and we should do it more often. It's the simplest thing to do and the easiest thing to share.
It's a hug.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What do rabbit ears and Bama football have in common? NOTHING!!! -- Part II

So my sister is driving in from South Carolina to watch the big SEC Championship game with me. The girl NEVER misses an Alabama football game. And because she lives five minutes from my father's brother, she watches them with my uncle on his super huge flatscreen so they can yell and scream and cuss at the TV together. Since Daddy played for the Bear, it's just family tradition. But there is a lot of pressure on me to make sure she doesn't miss what is arguably the Tide's biggest game of the year. And my cable is out and I can't get the CBS station.

But I do know a great guy who says the rabbit ears at his house work just fine for CBS and I shouldn't drive all the way up to my equally Alabama football-crazy cousin's house in Birmingham to watch the game because he can make it work. At least he's 99% sure.

Now, at the same time, my objective for that Saturday was to get my Christmas lights up on the house and I needed Brad and Patrick to help me out with that. Driving all over the state would not get that accomplished. So I agree to the rabbit ears idea and figure if it doesn't work, Buffalo Wild Wings is just down the road. Janie should be happy with that, right?

So Patrick comes bebopping in around 2 hours before game time with his little rabbit ears box, moseys into my living room, plugs in the rabbit ears, punches a few buttons, wiggles the antennas and gets a great picture from ABC. Gets another great picture from NBC and another one off of Fox. But when he gets to CBS, he gets absolutely nothing. Smiling at me in the "ha ha oops, I can make it work" kinda way, he starts clicking on the remote and fiddling with wires. If this were a movie, I would be standing there with a look of WTF on my face, my arms crossed, my foot tapping on the floor and repeatedly checking my watch. But this wasn't the movies. I smiled in an "I'm not worried" kinda way, stood up and went to go get ready ... with my thumping heart reminding me that my sister will rip it out if this doesn't work.

About 5 minutes later, I hear him shout that he'll be right back. I can only imagine what he's going to do at Best Buy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What do rabbit ears and Bama football have in common? NOTHING!!! -- Part I

The biggest game of the year for Alabama fans was on CBS last weekend.

Hailing to the uprights at the Georgia Dome in Hotlanta, the Tide was to faced off against the Gators in the first BCS 1-2 matchup in SEC history. To be fair, the BCS isn't very old but nothing was going to stop the Bama Nation from watching their beloved Nick Saban pull the prized Alabama football team up from its embarrassing drudge of pigskin play of the past few years back to the super heights of college ball.

This season has been spectacular with an 11-0 record going into the SEC Championship game. My father, an icon in his daughter’s eyes because he played for the Bear, would have wept to see it after all these years. And his other daughter carries on his legacy of pulling her chair directly in front of the TV and screaming at it with her hands flailing for the entire 3 hours of post routes, body slams and 2-minute drills. Shrill screams have pierced the ears of anyone daring to talk to her during Eli Gold’s play-by-play and the rule of thumb is to just tip-toe around, drink a lot of beer and don’t munch the chips too loudly when she’s in the room. For her, there is NO missing Bama football.

That daughter, my sister, came to my house to bow to the LCD panel god for the big game. Now this puts a lot of pressure on me. There is no room for error. So I invited friends over. Chopped up veggies for munchies. Grabbed enough beans, burger and chili powder to make 2 gallons of chili. Put beer on ice and decorated the house in about an hour.

But here’s the kicker….my cable was out and I didn't have CBS.