Well...how ‘bout 'at right there?
Now I know, I know. Most of y'all will claim now that you knew all along that our beloved Crimson Tide would snatch victory from the tainted, anti-dentific maw of the Auburnite last weekend in our hallowed Bryant Denny Stadium. All you lyin' swole-heads, please step forward, so that thou mayest be swatted about thine penile regions for telling such fibs.
Come around the beginning of the third quarter, I can probably count on one finger (cough-Phyllis from Mulga-cough) those among us who actually believed our beloved Crimson Tide would rally to win that there football game. Don't lie, as it is unbecoming. Truthfully, I thought we were done for. I began perusing real estate listings for lower Mississippi, so determined was I to not suffer through another year of taunting at the hands of those orange and blue clad heathen hordes. I'd rather call Meessippeh (ee-gads!) home than listen to the Auburnite run that mouth for another 365 days, no doubt about it.
Admit it...you thought we were beaten, splayed open at home, once again ratcheted by that Waffle House frequenter and bipedal meerkat of a critter they call a coach over on the Plains. I thought that linguistically-challenged quarterback of theirs was once again running us through, only this time, with of all things, the passing game. I thought that we were going to get cotdang Ellis Johnson a contract extension, so poor was the play of our boys in the second and third quarters of that football game.
But alas...the Tide rose. Sprang to life. Pulled themselves up from the ashes of yon gridiron to conquer and slay the barbarian invaders who had so rudely attempted to defile our field for the second time in three games. Though not one of us remained steadfast in our confidence as the clock waned through the third quarter, our boys believed. And the power of belief is...well...powerful.
Now, all that said, I'd like to believe that our Hoodoo kicked in as well, which of course played a role in the momentous turn of events that we beheld in that fourth quarter of football explosiveness. For you see, Football Loki is a turkey man, and apparently, in some tryptophan-induced lethargy, he forgot to show up on our behalf (despite our considerable sacrifice and atonement) until well into that second half of football.
But thank the Maker, that gregarious bearer of football fortune sprang to life from his turkey-coma and delivered our beloved Crimson Tide from certain demise the way Yahweh spared the Israelites as the Pharaoh followed in hot pursuit. For you see, if it wasn't evident before, we Alabama folk are Football Loki's chosen tribe. That's the only way to explain the events of the last seven years. Sure, those heathens of the dark arts in Lee County wield their own brand of luck, but our good fortune is divined from on high in the far reaches of Football Asgard.
So this week, we must once again call upon our supernatural patron to see us through yet another bastion of Tigers (why are there three sets of Tigers in the SEC?...this is perplexing, and something should be done about it...I vote we disband Auburn altogether, and force LSU to change their mascot to the Corndog...but I digress.) All the marbles ride upon this particular get-down, and if we can't get through this next striped palisade, then all will have been for naught. So bring what you have to the table, and if you're out of embarrassment, then you best cook up some kind of sacrifice to appease yon Football Gods. Something like streaking through one's hometown, chugging "buffalo sweat" shooters for every first down the Tide accrued against Auburn, or partaking of the One Direction catalog on loop until the end of the game.
Just do something, anything, to make sure the boys in crimson bring this SEC title back home to the Great State, where it rightfully belongs.
I'm gonna spin you boys and girls a little yarn from the days of yesteryear, when Bill Curry sat atop the crimson throne in Tuscaloosa, in the days before bits of masonry were cast about his office window-glass like so many Ultimate Frisbees. This tale dates back to the dawning of my coming of age as a man, that perplexing epoch in the life of every young feller when he has heard from fellow roustabouts that something lovely lies hidden beneath the undergarments of yon sweet young thing, but is yet too young to know just exactly what it is that is causing the phantom excitement.
For you see, like so many young men of my era, I grew up in a time of sexual awakening, when things that weren't once shadowed in the closets of one's darkest mental halls were hauled into the light of day. It was post-"sexual revolution" but pre-dawn of Internet pornography. You see, this was a time when an enterprising young man such as your narrator had to call upon all of his skills as a cat-burglar and subterfuge artist to partake of the sweet blessings of the female form through the forbidden fruit of analog, paperback porno.
We all had fathers (of some sort or another, however absent they may have been), we all had uncles with garages and workshops full of not only the implements of handicraft, but the luscious pin-up calendars of yesteryear. Such was the allure of the female body that many a young man saw their feigned interest in woodworking or metal shop blossom into full hobbydom through exposure, when actually, at their genesis, these hobbies were born of ill-fated attempts to outwait one's elders for a chance to flip through the infamous titty calendars of yore.
Count your humble narrator among this group, for as an 11 year old man-child, I had felt the nubile fingers of pubescence pawing at my nether regions whenever such a skin-flash was glimpsed. I can remember sneaking over to my neighbor T-Purv's house, acting as though I was interested in learning the finer points of weld-craft, just so when T's daddy went to the restroom, we could ransack his flesh calendar. We'd wait for him to leave, then hurriedly snatch it down off yonder wall, visually sopping up as many of those lovely images as we could, the way one sops up saw meal gravy with a cat-head biscuit.
On one such journey into the heart of soft-porn darkness, T-Purv and I, well, we stumbled upon something we had not anticipated finding...i.e. T-Purv's daddy had an unknown stash of vintage Playboys and Penthouses, rolled up tightly into an oversize coffee can amongst a bushel of other coffee cans containing nuts and washers and such. An ingenious hiding spot to be sure, but one that T-Purv and I were more than willing to unearth.
"Whoa man, check ‘is out," said T-Purv, upon finding said stash. You see, T-Purv was of poor stock, some amalgam of the reddest of redneckery combined with bayou-inspired coonass. I just never could make out his lineage, but it was decidedly skewed towards the hillbilly persuasion. One final descriptor...he and his ilk were Boogs. Card-totin'.
"Lookee here what I found in this nut can...diddy's got some jerk books."
I quickly responded and beheld with mine eye the thing I had coveted ever since beginning to uncover my own burgeoning sexual identity: some beautiful blonde centerfold spread eagle and nude as the day she was born, staring back at me with alluring eyes.
"Damn, T, do you think your dad would miss ‘em?"
"Well, I don't know...would you?" he said with a snicker. The Boog made a good point.
"What we need to do is mark ‘em some kinda way, maybe put a nail under that can or something. If we check back in a week and it's in the same place, we'll know he hasn't looked at ‘em, and we'll know it's safe to carry ‘em off somewhere for a bit."
You see, I told you people, I was a cotdang genius then, just as I am now. That right there ain't book-learnin' nor cyperin', that's just good old-fashioned in-born sense.
So we found a Cotter pin that fit the bill and replaced the can on the high shelf, ever so carefully. Slipped the Cotter pin beneath the front of it in the 6 o'clock position so that if that can was moved, the pin would fall, and we'd know we'd better let them spank mags sit a spell.
That was the longest week of my life. We didn't poke around nor work in the workshop for fear of tipping our hand, kept our activities out in the yard, playing basketball and such as that. But when that grand day came, with great anticipation, we could wait no longer to discover the fate of the titty books. We waited until T-Purv's daddy left for his shift at the paper mill, and his mama was tied up with the caterwaulin' of T-Purv's younger brother K-Purv. Figuring all potential eyes were otherwise diverted, we sneaked into the shed to see if our ruse had worked.
Sure enough, gleaming like the dang ole Crystal Skull on that high shelf, that Cotter pin sat unmolested, right where we'd left it. So these jerk books weren't the variety that found themselves in routine employ, we determined, and therefore, we felt we had the license to abscond with them for our own nefarious enjoyment.
But the next obstacle was one we hadn't thought far enough ahead to consider...namely, where we would store the skin-mags so as not to have them discovered by the prying of our respective mothers? Surely, such filth could not be carried into our homes, where its discovery would not only soil the tranquil domicile which our mothers had worked so hard to create, but also expose us to heinous and egregious punishments. A plan had to be hatched; a furtive location had to be discovered.
As soon as we snatched the porno magazines, we immediately fled to the wilderness of our youth, the unchartered realms of "the ditch." The ditch in question was a drainage culvert that ran adjacent to my yard, winding through the reaching verdant fingers of the ever-growing kudzu like the Nile through the Delta. We knew that there, we'd be safe to view these lascivious relics without the invading eye of adults, for no adults were brave enough to travel into the depths of the kudzu clasp of the ditch.
We had a fort in said ditch, but figured it would be far too obvious a location. After all, marauding hordes from other invading forts may happen upon our stash and take it for their own uses. We, quite simply, couldn't have that. No, we'd planted our flag on these titty books, and they would stay within our grasp no matter what: they, the "Precious" of paperback pornography...we, the Goloms of pre-teen porn hoarding.
Alas, in a moment of epiphany, we looked at one another and spoke simultaneously.
You see, spanning this small municipal drainage vestibule was a homemade bridge wrought from cast-off railroad ties that had been placed behind the backyard of one of the neighborhood matriarchs. She was roughly 326 years in age, complete with the bulbous gray basketball -shaped coif fitting of her station. She was the mother to at least two of the other neighbors in our vicinity, one of which was the local Sunbeam bread delivery man whose yard had served as the court for many a pick-up ball game. She was a Bible-thumpin' Baptist and prude of the highest order who'd routinely tell us that things like scooters and Nerf footballs were "of the Devil, for shame!" Not our favorite person, but she was so old that we figured even if she was ever able to wander past her fencepost, she'd certainly never recognize the lewd images splayed on said glossy-paged periodicals.
So that was our spot. We hid those porn books wedged beneath the cross-ties, and whenever the fancy would strike us, we'd slip down into the ditch, around the bend, and pull them out for a quick look. We kept the secret close between the two of us, as we certainly didn't want the word to get out. Little did we known it, but at this very moment, our porn-based paradise was eroding from beneath our very feet like sand in the ebbing tide, and we were too stricken with our stash to see it coming.
One morning, I was awakened by my mother, who didn't utter softly in her usual manner but rather demanded that I rise.
"Get your ass out here." I was summoned to the front yard, where before me stood T-Purv and his mother, accompanied by the bread man, Tweety-Bird.
"Well," my mother said, "You have something you want to tell me?"
I didn't. I most assuredly didn't. But when people ask you if you have something you want to tell them, it is generally not just a generic request for any information one wishes to volunteer. Rather, the inquisitor usually knows exactly what you should tell, whether it is something one wants to tell or not.
Bear in mind, I was a sharp kid, so I knew what was going on. Not knowing what T-Purv had said, I elected to just play the role of the dummy in all of this.
"Naw mom, I don't know what you mean?"
"Well let me tell you what I mean," and she proceeded to do just that. She said that Tweety-Bird had received a call from his mother about some kids poking about around her bridge in the back. Upon investigation, Tweety himself had discovered the porno stash, and after his mother was able to identify T-Purv as one of the culprits, the evidence was placed before my accomplice. Like the dastardly individual that he was, T-Purv rolled over like a gypsy prostitute, told them that he knew about those jerk books but that they were mine. Lyin' bastard.
I should take a moment to point out the sense of rivalry my mother had with the Purv family. They were different from us, and not only in terms of their football loyalties. They were the busy-body type, whilst we were the type to keep to ourselves. Because we came from a "broken home," we were viewed as less whole and therefore of inferior stock. I didn't until later in life understand the nature of female competitiveness, but I believe that dynamic must have played in as well.
Being as sharp as a Ginsu knife, I sensed where my mother was going with this. See, she didn't want this crime against humanity and Larkwood Drive to be parlayed solely upon the head of her boy while that tiny Purvi escaped without blame. No, she was more than willing to punish me, but she didn't want the neighborhood socialite pinning the blame on me and causing undue scuttlebutt propelled in our general direction.
"Now I heard what T-Purv has said, what do you have to say, OWB?" Before I could answer, she decided to further lead the witness. "Because that story can't be right, you see. OWB doesn't have a daddy living here, or any adult male, and I certainly don't keep this kind of smut around, so I'm at a loss as to where he would have gotten access to such filth."
This was my out, my loophole, my Amari-Cotdang-Cooper.
"Yeah mom, they weren't mine...I mean, where would I have gotten those?" I could see the tension rising in Mama Purv's face, and T-Purv was squirming like raw bacon tossed on a scalded black-iron skillet. "I don't know what T-Purv is talkin' about, he knows where we got those books, he just don't wanna say. Tell 'em T-Purv, tell ‘em where we got those books..."
By this point, the look of sheer horror that had crept across the faces of my accusers told me that everyone knew which words would tumble from mine lips next. They were making attempts at psychic diversion, hoping that by some miracle my mouth would cease to function, or that celestial lightning would strike me down there on the spot.
But such was not their luck. No, on this day, I had the hand, and the hand I would deploy.
T-Purv was rendered speechless, frozen, paralyzed and trapped beneath ice. So I took the liberty to act as his spokesperson.
"You see, mom, we found those books rolled up in a can over there in Mr. Purv's workshop...T said they were his daddy's..."
I had no sooner uttered those words than the Purvi fled the scene, bee-lining for their yard across the street, T's ear firmly clinched in the sewing-finger-strong grasp of his raven-haired mother. There was aggravated mumbling that erupted in the occasional cuss word as they walked, but I was sure the beatin's wouldn't commence until they were behind closed doors.
Me, I wasn't so fortunate. I could only hope for a beatin' but a beatin' was not dispensed. No, I was shackled with the purgatory of restriction...no ditch, no football, no bb gun. Back in the days before video games, these were the tools with which young boys plied their trade, and the thought of going two weeks without my cherished freedom was more painful to bear than the momentary inflammation of my buttocks. I'da taken an ass-whuppin' from a middle aged lady any day over restriction.
The news did, however, leak to the remainder of the neighborhood, creepin' like a holera epidemic from house to house. While it wasn't the end of the world, the gossip did further cement our standing as "that trashy family down in the curve," but I guess worse things could have happened, right?
I'm not sure what happened to Mr. Purv in the wake of all of this drama, but rest assured, I bet he would have borne both our punishments if it meant he could escape his. Youch. If all he got was a night on the couch, then that sumbitch could consider himself lucky.
To this day, I remain a fan of the female form and a purveyor of the finest in pornographies (only those that are artistically rendered, of course.) Such is my weakness and my only remaining vice, though lack of high speed internet has even put a kink into that age old practice for your humble narrator. This is my burden to bear, my cross, my albatross...and I hope this admission serves as a fitting sacrifice as our beloved Crimson Tide once again takes the field of battle against the nouveau riche of the SEC, these cotdang Mizzou Tiger-cats.
Roll Tide y'all, on to victory. Complete the Tiger Trifecta, and skin those Missourican smart-alecks.