I returned late Monday evening from an eleven day, 2,700 mile trip that took me to Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky. In those 11 days I went to two concerts, a wedding, went to the beach...the lake...and the river and amazingly avoided sunburn. I had some Crimson Tide related experiences at both concerts and at the wedding. Let me recount them for you now....
Friday, May 18, 2007: Atlanta, Georgia:
The trip kicked off in Atlanta at The Roxy Theatre to see Stephen Marley in concert. I met up with a friend in Atlanta that I hadn't seen in a year or two and we went to the show together. The band had been playing for about an hour and half and they were simply going off. Super high energy, deep grooves, just a fantastic music experience. Everybody in the place is dancing their butts off, but I'm exhausted from staying out too late the night before and having driven 200 miles to the show. I have one eye on the clock because it's getting late and I have a 450 mile drive to Orlando the next day. I was loving the show, but I was just kind of taking it in. I was just nodding along to the beat when a woman comes up behind me, wraps her arms around me and starts trying to get me to dance. Not wanting to be inhospitable or culturally insensitive to local customs, I start dancing and talking with her. Eventually she asks me if I'm going to another show in town that weekend and I told her that I was just passing through town for one night and was Florida bound the next day...this is where the football comes in....
She asks me where I'm from and my response of "Tuscaloosa" completely changes the tone of the evening. Her response to my living in Tuscaloosa? "That's a damn shame." I asked her how a Georgia fan could hate a team and city so badly when they play so infrequently. I should've seen this coming, "I'm not a Georgia fan honey, I'm a Tennessee Vol." The conversation quickly escalated into telling each other how much the other's team sucks, etc. She then said "I was really warming up to you too until I found out you were a Bama fan." As someone that is incredibly devoted to my own team, I could appreciate her devotion to hers even if she was completely and utterly wrong in her choice. After that, we went back to hanging out with our respective groups of friends and when the show was over we shook hands and exchanged a "Roll Tide" and a "Go Vols" and went about our merry ways. I have no problem with interracial dating and have dated outside of my race quite a bit, but there's no way I'm getting mixed up with a Vol fan.
Sunday, May 20, 2007: Orlando, Florida:
After a splendid day at the Canaveral National Seashore, my friends and I headed back to Orlando to see the Arctic Monkeys at Hard Rock Live. We were sitting in a Whataburger (much to my dismay since I don't eat hamburgers) arguing about whether the show started at 8:00 p.m. or the doors opened at 8:00 p.m. I was convinced it was show at eight, but everyone else was sold on it being doors at eight. We get home, check the tickets and it's show at 8 p.m. We look at the clock, it's 7:42 pm and we're all covered in sand and have that sticky, saltwater hair thing going on. It's roughly half an hour drive to the venue. Not good. At least there's an opening band that we don't mind missing, but even with that time padding, we'll still be pushing it to see the beginning of the Arctic Monkeys' set. We all changed clothes and skipped showers and piled into the car.
Hard Rock Live is on the property of Universal Studios which means that even though it's a 30 minute drive there, it's about another thirty minute walk through parking decks and parking lots not to mention battling throngs of people from all of the world that couldn't be in less of a hurry to get anywhere. We've now parked and are sprinting at top speed in flip-flops (the state shoe of Florida) which is not easy to do. We get through the security check at 8:59 and go running into the venue right as the band walks on stage. As we're sprinting towards the open floor, some girl spots me in my crimson "BAMA" shirt and screams "Roll Tide!" as we dash past her, I raise my fist and howl "Roll Tide!" in reply to the complete befuddlement of hoards of English tourists decked out in Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United jerseys.
Saturday, May 26, 2007: Owensboro, Kentucky:
I went to a wedding in Owensboro by myself. It's hard to talk someone into giving up a three day weekend to go to a wedding of two people they've never met in a small town on the Kentucky-Indiana border. Can't say that I blame anyone for turning that invitation down. I only knew the bride and groom and it isn't exactly like they could hang out with me the whole time. So, I'm hanging out by myself, looking at a nice sunset over the Ohio River and a married couple ask me to join them at their table because they noticed I'd been hanging out by myself for a while. We get to chatting about stuff strangers talk about at weddings like "How do you know the bride and groom?" which in this case drifts into two of my favorite topics: music and sports. This format of conversation repeated itself throughout the evening. The music bits aren't important, but two themes consistently arose during the sports talk:
- Needless to say a certain 1997 football game was repeatedly brought up. Every person I know from Kentucky brings this one up a lot. My only defense? "We beat y'all in basketball a lot more often than you beat us in football."
- The hiring of Nick Saban vs. the hiring of Billy Gillespie. Everyone I talked to seemed to think that we made the better hire. I heard things like, "You spent a fortune, but you got a proven coach" and "I think y'all fixed your problems, I'm not sure we fixed ours." I naturally asked about their discontent with Tubby with the thought, "...but he won y'all a national championship..." to which they responded, "Yeah, but that was a long time ago and we haven't been to the Final Four in forever..."
For similar stories from others, view this post on the same topic (includes stories from all over the world.)