(If you are in my Sunday School class, or if you are my mom, do not read this. NSFW language.)
I don’t know where Kentucky football fans come from. I haven’t met very many of them. I don’t know what happens to them, whether they hibernate until basketball season or if they just kind of keep their peace and wait for the Music City Bowl to roll around.
When I got out of school I worked for a couple of years in a drug and alcohol rehab. It was the kind of job where I got to meet the people that I watched play on Saturdays and Sundays, but could never mention any of their names because of confidentiality laws. So it was kind of strange.
My coworkers were by and large Christians, which is to say, Alabama fans. There was also one old Kentucky fan who had worked at the facility for a long time. He looked like Floyd the barber from The Andy Griffith Show and he was quite odd. His name was Hiram, if that helps color the picture.
One day a gentleman came into rehab who was not ready to get clean. We’ll call him Buddy. I can’t remember for sure, but it seems like Buddy was an Auburn fan. He dressed like one, anyway, with a Ron Jon t-shirt and camouflage pants and a frayed visor with sunglasses hanging around his neck.
Buddy was trouble. He broke dozens of rules and we finally decided to discharge him. It fell to me to deliver the news.
I found him on the smoking porch, arm around one of the female patients, trying to convince her to provide "therapeutic services"* in exchange for some pills he had smuggled in. (*IMPORTANT NOTE: I MEANT SEXUAL STUFF)
"Hey Buddy, can I talk with you for a second?"
Buddy put the negotiations on hold and joined me on the walking path. With every step he took, the vial-shaped bulge in his pants pocket rattled like a box of Tic Tacs.
"I don’t think it’s working out for you, Buddy." I said diplomatically.
"You can’t bring pills into rehab and give them out."
"What pills?" he demanded, without even flinching.
"The pills in your pocket. I can see them. And hear them."
I informed Buddy that we were going to discharge him, but that if he ever reached the point of getting serious about recovery, he could come back. He left me to go pack his belongings. I concluded, incorrectly, that things were going well.
A few moments later, I walked into his room in time to witness Bill W.’s blue Big Book of AA sail out the open window, cutting an arc through the empty air and vanishing into the woods.
"FUCK THIS BOOK AND FUCK THIS PLACE!" he screamed.
In the span of a minute or so, Buddy had worked himself into a frenzy. In his bent perception, his discharge from the facility had grown into a vast, punitive conspiracy that included all the staff and other patients. Everyone was out to get him, and he was going down swinging.
Buddy grabbed his suitcase and stormed from the room, brushing past me as if I was invisible. Outside, his AA book sat face down in the dead leaves.
"I’M GOING TO GIVE THIS PLACE A PIECE OF MY DAMN MIND." He shouted in the hallway, to no one in particular.
I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but it didn’t sound good.
Buddy found a lecture hall and burst into the room. As luck would have it, the presenter was Hiram, the Kentucky fan.
Buddy strode out into the middle of the floor. Patients of every age and gender looked up from their AA books. Buddy took his time, sizing up the dozens of people in the room.
"There’s some snitches up in this bitch!" he bellowed. Several women in the room gasped.
Buddy stuck out his finger and pointed it at one patient after another. The threats flew out of his mouth fast and loose, bouncing around the room like bats out of hell.
I’m going to track you down on the outside.
I’m going to kick your ass.
You’ll be sorry.
Then, just as things felt like they might turn violent, a second voice captured the attention of the room. This voice was different—an easy, mumbly bluegrass drawl. The small, bespectacled counselor in the blue Wildcat jacket pawed at his silvery white hair and stared straight through Buddy.
"Son, it’s time for you to leave."
Buddy took several steps toward Hiram.
"I’ll kill you, old man." He seethed.
Hiram did not seem troubled in the least.
"No you won’t." he said simply.
Then Buddy issued a frightening missive, a blanket threat that he would murder and rape every staff member in the facility. Or maybe it was rape and then murder. Either way it wasn’t pleasant.
Hiram adjusted his glasses. The two men were toe to toe now, their noses perhaps an inch apart.
"Son, if you’re going to rape me you’re going to need to wear a rubber."
Buddy’s face trembled with rage.
"Do you think I’m joking?" he screamed.
Hiram’s eyebrows flickered.
"Do you think I’m joking? Son, you don’t know where I’ve been."
Then, for reasons I will never understand, Buddy’s internal constitution fell apart. His confidence crumbled into pieces right there in front of the entire room. He glanced around, at all the sets of eyes watching him. He inched backwards. And then he was gone, out the door and down the sidewalk, dragging his suitcase behind him. We never saw him again.
Hiram stood there, all 5’6" of him. He had won. He took off his glasses and wiped them on the front of his shirt. The old man sighed. He walked back to the whiteboard and picked up a marker.
"…Hmm, where were we? Everyone turn to the chapter How It Works. Now, the interesting thing about Bill W. was…"