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Your Weekly Hoodoo Thread

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Football Loki is wondering who should win in College Station this weekend...let's help him figure it out, shall we?

Loki says keep 'em comin'
Loki says keep 'em comin'

Well...dayum. Last week, y'all...well, I just don't have an explanation for that one. I thought the Hoodoo offerings were sufficient, and after that ass-whuppin' our beloved Crimson Tide threw at the Dawgs in the previous week, I figured there was no reason Bama wouldn't run through the Razorbacks like buffet-served Moo Goo Gai Pan through an octogenarian.

But the Tide faltered, if not totally, at least partially. The offensive line, at times, looked like a sieve. Usually level-headed stalwarts like Cam Robinson lost their cool, drawing personal fouls (the interference of one porcine head coach who remain nameless withstanding...though I won't call his name, I'll say it begins with B and rhymes with Peelema.) Coker once again resorted to throwing the pigskin to the opposing team (though admittedly, one of those wasn't totally his fault.) It was just a confluence of unfortunate events that had me fussin' and cussin' at Chez OWB for most of the evening last Saturday.

What it also did is give your narrator pause about the team the Tide will face this week in College Station. What saved the Tide from its mistakes against Arky was the absolute and total lack of an offense on behalf of the Razorpiggies. They were about as inept as Stevie Wonder at a turkey shoot. This, thank goodness, made the Tide defense as happy as Bill Clinton at a Cankle Conference, and the boys in Crimson flexed their muscle to the fullest extent.

This week, that same defense will face its stiffest test to date from the Texas A&M fireworks show of an offense that offers easily the best group of wide receivers Alabama will face this year. To make matters worse, the game will be played in that God-forsaken Collie graveyard of a stadium the Aggies call home, complete[ED1] with their male cheerleaders (or yell leaders, or whatever in the hell they call them) barking at our boys in front of a raucous and hungry crowd that can't help but remember the 59-0 lashing the Tide put on their boys last year in Tuscaloosa.

That said, with the challenge at hand, we better throw down a Hoodoo gauntlet the likes of which those Texicans can't match. Those Aggi like to toss around the coin, and if I know one thing about Football Loki, it's that he can be bought for the right price. What we may lack in change we more than make up for in dedication, and in the case of Hoodoo, shame and disgrace. Let us place our offering at Loki's throne, and hope for the best.

To that end, I offer you this week not another tale from my formative childhood years, but a story from my adulthood, my early years as a family man, if you will. This only escalates the shameful aspect of the following tale, as unable to blame my poor judgement on the folly of youth, I can only say that I, an adult male, husband and parent, I should well have known better and acted accordingly.

Now I've told you people from time to time tales of parenting my eldest, a boy-child who goes by the name Patches in the record of my personal narrative here. Patches is a big ole boy like ‘is daddy, now approaching the age of 14. This story harkens back a few years, as I'd put him around the age of five at the time of the events I'm about to relay to you fine people.

Now, Patches, bless ‘is heart, he battles his own set of demons in this here mortal coil. Though I'm using a pseudonym to an extent, I still won't sully his privacy too much in this ledger by offering a medical diagnosis of the condition with which the boy deals on a daily basis. He drives his parents bat-shit crazy from every now and again, and he makes his lil' sister's life a living hell from time to time. Like a gaggle of young boys (mostly) from his particular era, he, if placed under the microscope of some -ologist or other, would fall onto some type of spectrum. I'll just leave it at that.

That said, I can describe his behavior best as....erratic. Yes, let's call it erratic. Some days he can cope, some days he just can't even, to use the parlance of the Millennials (or whatever you call them.) As a child, his behavior manifested itself in the form of some anger, some overly-exuberant ADD-ish activity and some risk-taking behavior. The latter is the focus of this particular tale....well, his risk-taking behavior and my rather poor response to it.

At the time, we lived on a house on a rather steep hill, with a sharp grade that dropped about eight to 10 feet from our front door to the curb. Patches, never able to master the balance required of bicycle travel, stuck with his tried-and-true Razor scooter. Anyone who has had a child in the last decade knows what I'm talking about: it's an aluminum, folding inline two-wheeled scooter with polyurethane wheels similar to those found on a set of rollerblade skates. The damn things are veritable death mo-sheens, as balancing on one is about as easily as tooling around on ice-skates greased with bacon fat. I can personally attest to this, as on many a drunken scooter junket in the cul-de-sac, I've found myself spilled out like Otis the Drunk from the cruel forces of gravity allied with the unbalanced created by the above-mentioned rolling torture device.

Now, Patches loved that damn scooter, still has it to this day. This week, as a matter of fact, we are replacing the wheels, as they've worn down to nothing and fried the bearings in the time that he's had it, especially considering that they are routinely called upon to tote his 180 pound lummox ass.

During the time of his life that frames this particular tale, I was gainfully employed, worked five days a week, a standard 40 hour affair with weekends off. During the football season, Saturdays fell into a ritual that many of you parental types have probably followed over the years. Said ritual consisted of the following: Saturday morning cartoons and breakfast, followed by early soccer games (in season), a race-with-the-devil home to prepare for the games, followed by lunch on the grill and afternoons/ evenings filled with college football bliss. This particular Saturday was the day of Bama's infamous 2007 loss to Florida State, and I, unfortunately, hold myself partially to blame for that horrible debacle ("see ‘at right there, y'all, he's doin' that there four-shadowin' thing again".)

Enough with the literature (pronounced all fancy-like, litter-uh-toor) lesson. Let,s get back to the narrative at hand. So this Saturday had transpired in much the same vein, with college football taking the reins of my focus and attention for the day. Still riding the wave of hope ushered in by the hiring of Our Dark Lord, I looked forward to seeing my Tide finally pound on the unworthy, SEC-dodging Semi-holes. Despite the John Parker Wilson-ness of the Alabama offense that year, I figured the boys in crimson had a pretty good shot of beating Bobby Bowden and his garnet and gold-clad Noles. I was pumped about the match-up, as it simply doesn't happen very often. I was also excited because...football.

I was really looking forward to the game, needless to say.  So much so, in fact, that I went full dayum Gump earlier that morning, using cans of spray-paint in crimson and white (and a homemade stencil...this ole boy is crafty, I tell you what) to create an eight-foot script "A" in living color on the front lawn (much to the horror and chagrin of my buttplugish neighbors.)

At this point, roughly 1 p.m.-ish, I was well into my game day ritual. The proverbial wheel was rolling downhill, and I was feelin' the flow...workin' it, workin' it. Conecuh sausage, onions and peppers were on the grill, dip had been plopped in a bowl, beer was on ice and the bourbon had already begun to flow. I was feeling good, and the smell of that sausage wafting from the grill and into my nostrils was pure heaven as I sipped fine, fine Kentucky bourbon (by fine, I mean Evan Williams) from a styrofoam cup. The temperature was moderating (I hate the fkn summer, y'all), the leaves were turning, and Patches was playing with the football in the yard, just as I had done on gameday Saturdays as a boy. I joined him, and we tossed the football around a little, with me providing him instruction on how to throw a spiral and load his release (which in retrospect, was probably somewhat lost on a five year old.) I show him how to break down for textbook tackling form, how to explode through the hit. It was awesome, the kind of thing I'd dreamt of as a young father who found out in his wife's sixth month of pregnancy that he'd be having a male heir.

Beer, my boy, football, cool temps, good eats...I seriously couldn't have conjured up a better day had I a magic lamp, a skimpily-clad Barbara Eden and three wishes. But, alas, like all good things, it had to come to an end ("see, there he goes again...does he get paid by the foreshadow or somethin'?")

I was counting down the minutes until kickoff when I went back to the grill to burn off the scorched sausage grease and take the food off of the warmer. After an hour of torturous fire-licked pork aromas, my hunger was to be satisfied. It was time to eat, finally, and my pancreas was lettin' ya boy know, pumpin' insulin like a cotdang oil derrick. At about that time, I heard the rumble-rattle of Patch's urethane wheels on the asphalt in our cul-de-sac, the aluminum frame of the scooter buzzing from the vibration telegraphed up from the road through its metal frame. I saw him roll down our driveway, his foot pressed against the brake on the back wheel of the scooter.

"You see, I've done a good job teaching him about safety and shit," I thought to myself. "Reward yourself, Father of the Year, with yet another col'beer." (Yes, I talk to myself. Is that a problem for you? I mean, everybody carries on conversations with themselves in the third person, no? No? Really? Huh, may need to circle back on that one, get me old head-unit checked out...but I digress.)

Patches eased out into the road and towards the driveway next door, which just happened to be at my brother's B-Rad's house. I continued with final pre-game tasks, putting on a bit of a rush, as kick-off was just around the corner. Nothing was going to keep me from having my big ass in front of a television when the game started. Or so I thought... ("I'll take Literary Devices for two, Trebek...")

Let me make mention that at this particular point, I had enjoyed more alcoholic beverages than should be legal for one prior to sunset, playing to my own tailgate standard for most of the morning and afternoon. Feeling the buzz, I determined that I was about to break the second rule of alcohol consumption: namely, never overconsume on an empty stomach. Boy, this heavy-lunch sumbitch right here was hungry. I plated up my sausages and grilled vegetables, and prepared the grill to toast my brioche buns slightly, the way they do at them fancy Ole Miss-typa tailgates. The time to feast had come, and it was time to turn on the pre-game radio program in time to hear Coach Saban's locker room comments. As I rounded the corner from the carport, my grilled edibles on a plate in hand, I heard my son call out.

"Hey dad, watch this!" That phrase, for you non-parents, rarely precedes anything that doesn't result in a big ole nope. He was on the scooter at the top of B-Rad's driveway, which, to set the scene, was a grade steeper than our own. To make matters more daunting, B-Rad's driveway was smooth white concrete compared to our own asphalt, which is where Patches had the bulk of his riding experience to date. For those of you who never been on a skateboard, let me just tell you...concrete is soooooo much faster than asphalt. Having never attempted this particular stunt on B-Rad's driveway, Patches had no idea what he had in store.

"Hey bud-...." Before I could get out a paternal warning, with a kick, he launched himself down the hill. I could see the speed build rapidly, with the widening of his eyes directly proportional to the rapidity of his descent.

"AHHHH!" I could see him begin to develop the shakes: that unnerving, nausea-inducing factor of travel on anything with wheels that occurs under the duress of high speeds. He fired down the driveway, onto the asphalt road, where, unable to stop himself, he rammed right into a concrete curb that surrounded the median in the cul-de-sac. He launched over the handlebars of the scooter, landing with a sickening thud on the unforgiving asphalt street.

I immediately started running, not even taking the time to sit down the Conecuh on the plate. When I got to Patches, he was doing the whole silent scream thing....parents know what I mean, the scream that makes no audible sound, but is accompanied by the full facial expression and bodily convulsions common with such vocal expressions. Being raised in the School of the Worst Case Scenario, I expected head trauma, and first made sure that he didn't hit his head. His knees were scraped, and a good bit of the meat was torn off of his left elbow.

He rolled over onto his back and attempted to sit up. That's when, for the first time, I noticed that his right arm was dangling loose to an extent: I couldn't pin it down exactly but it just didn't look natural. When finally sound returned to his repertoire, all he could say was "My arm, my arm, my arm...dad, my arm, my arm."

I shit you not, though moved by my son's pain, the first involuntary that shot through my mind was the following: "Aw damn OWB, this sucks, it's almost time for kickoff!" Not "my poor child, gravity is a vengeful bastard," not even, "dang, it sucks that Patches hurt his arm." First thing I thought about was missing the game, as shameful as that may sound. But it gets worse...

Hearing the eventual screams, Mrs. OWB burst out of the house like a mama bear from her hibernation cave, looking for the cause of her first born's terror.

"WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM?"

"ME?" I exclaimed. How dare she! "I didn't do any-damn-thing...he crashed his scooter, hurt his arm."

Still glaring at me, not sure whether to believe your humble and trustworthy narrator, she scooped him up and began administering motherly care. He continued to cry about his arm.

"It's hurt, mama, my arm." The more he talked about it and told her what happened, the more he regained his composure. After a few minutes, he was no longer yelling and sobbing, but the boy was still complaining about his arm. After about 30 minutes, his sobs were gone, and he was back to light play, specifically driving Hot Wheels cars in his sand box (admittedly, only with his left hand.)

I was proud of his resiliency, to be honest, and was content that due to his paternally-inherited durability, I likely wouldn't miss the game, which loomed less than 30 minutes in the future. You see, you narrator was raised in the era of hard knocks, by men who themselves were even harder than the aforementioned knocks. String barbed-wire fence in the Alabama heat for nine hours without water, jump off the roof for fun, engage in pellet gun fights for pleasure...you know, that kinda John Wayne type shit. Seeing my son shake off his injury made me not only happy that I wouldn't miss my game, but proud that the boy had taken after his daddy as a future hardass.

After a few more minutes, Mrs. OWB spoke up.

"I think we need to take him to a doctor or the emergency room."

"Dammit woman, you are gonna sissify this boy yet," I thought. Thinking of the close proximity of the impending kickoff, I offered resistance.

"You think? Nahhh, I think he's all good, seems like it's wearin' off, maybe just banged it up good."

The wife was not appreciative of my diagnosis. Said something about my apparent lack of a medical license, which I found totally and wholly irrelevant at the time. I had, after all, eye-balled the injury and was in no way motivated by my desire to watch the impending football game.

"Well, wouldn't you rather be sure?" she replied.

Honestly, no. I didn't want to be sure, as the whole thing kind of freaked me out. Though I do love my own with all my heart, I'm not crazy about kids in general, ‘specially not hurt kids. And I was, in fact, sure that a doctor's visit would cause me to miss my beloved football game despite my best efforts to the contrary. After all, the whole incident had already resulted in my being forced to consume cold sausage and peppers on an untoasted bun. I mean...I hadn't even had a chance to melt provolone on it. Would no one think of your poor narrator? Had I not been inconvenienced enough? I conceded, however, despite my manly inclinations.

"Well...okay, I guess if you want to take him, you can, I'll get you the insurance card...."

"EXCUSE ME? I am not taking him by myself, you are going. What is wrong with you?" I didn't really have an answer for her, and probably would have been better served claiming defeat at that moment.

"Surely, you jest, woman," I thought. But I could tell from the unflinching non-smile on her face that she was not kidding at all. Mentally, I began to panic. There was no way to talk myself out of this without looking like a terrible father. I mean, did this woman not understand the importance of the coming football game, not just to the season at hand, but to the whole of Alabama football universe? I had to do something, or risk casting bad mojo on the coming contest with my absence.

"Com'ere boy," I yelled. Patches walked over, that damn arm still dangling like a bird's broken wing. "You still hurt?"

"Yeah dad, it still hurts. My elbow."

"You sure?"

"Yeah."

"When I say hurt, I mean does it hurt real bad? Or just, you know, like kinda bad. Or even, you know, not bad at all? I mean, your mama here thinks you're a sissy and..." Seeing my wife's quick glare, I trailed off into a mumble as my son answered.

"It hurts pretty bad, dad."

Remembering my own run in with a broken bone as detailed here in this Hoodoo ledger in a previous week, I asked him about the sensation he felt, offering this cross-examination in front of my wife. I had hoped that his answer would give further credence to my theory that his arm was not, in fact, broken.

"Did you feel, like, a bolt of pain go up your arm when it happened? Like electricity?" As if he knew what the hell I was talking about or had been shocked with electricity at some point enough to know what it felt like.

"Uh, no dad. It just hurted all over. Mostly in my elbow though."

"SEE! See!" I slurred demonstrably to my wife. "Can't be broke if he didn't feel the bolt of ‘lectricity, just can't be broke. When I broke my arm, I felt the ‘lectricity. Caint be broke, nope. Prolly just bruised or somethin', you know, bruised. Hey, y'all seen the remote? ‘most game time y'all, reckon I'm just gonna go get in front of the ole TV..."

My wife, ever the skeptical juror, was not impressed by the line of questioning. She interjected with cross-examination of her own, the voice of reason.

"Patches, do you want to go to the doctor? Does it hurt bad enough?"

"Yes mom, it hurts."

She looked back at me with a "case closed" demeanor, as if surely I had no further witness to call in my defense. After all, no lightly-dented red-blooded American boy is going to answer in the affirmative when asked if he wants to go to a doctor of any sort. Could be shots involved in such a visit, and no kid is opting for that voluntarily.

But, despite her familiarity with my cat-daddyish ways, she underestimated me.

"I call to the stand again one Patches." (That may be an exaggeration, although the courtroom drama vibe of this tale is makin' ya boy feel all Matlocky, ya know?)

Patches took the stand, or rather, stood in front of me and his mama. Having some knowledge of anatomy and a working understanding of the fact that the elbow is a hinge joint, I figured that if a joint is broken, it won't work and/ or bend. Now that, folks, is some high-level medical cyperin'. I felt, in my semi-delusional state, that I had found my ace in the hole, my Exhibit A that would provide the evidence to support my failing case.

"Give me your arm, Patches" He looked at me with a glimpse of horror, but relented when I told him it was okay, I was just checking him out. I took him by the hand and his upper arm, and went about my bending his elbow to see if it still worked.

"OWWW DAD! IT HURTS!" he yelped, and began to once again cry. The weight of my wife's disapproving glare was overwhelming.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Ought to be ashamed of yourself. Go get the car started, we're going to urgent care." I felt like an absolute heel, and rightfully so. I muttered to myself, trying to justify my actions.

"Just sayin' it wasn't broke is all...boy's gotta be tough...Alabama game...I'll go start the car."

I was, indeed, ashamed. My desire to watch the Tide had, in my altered state of rationale, led me to the abandonment of my fatherly responsibilities. Head hanging, I cranked our Grand Prix and waited for Patches and Mrs. OWB to load into the car.

We made the trip to the only place open on a Saturday afternoon that wasn't an emergency room, a local urgent care facility on the fringe of town. The doctor told us that it appeared Patches had broken his elbow, which was unfortunate, because such breaks often required additional surgery to ensure range of motion after healing.

"Great," Mrs. OWB said to the doctor. "That's just great. And this jackass Dr. OWB over here was trying to tell us earlier that his arm wasn't broken, even bent it back."

The doctor looked at me as if watching a puppy steamrolled on the highway by a logging truck. IT was clear she was horrified, and her motherly instincts were enflamed.

"Oh Mr. OWB," she scalded," You should not have done that! Don't you know blah blah blah, fracture, blah blah blah, may not be able to throw..."

The reprimand was untampered and by no means brief. The doctor and my wife tagged teamed me for what seemed like 10 minutes, and what could I do, aside from interject the occasional "but I...I didn't mean to...was just tryin' to..." They didn't let up, were on me like ticks on a deer, just giving your humble tale-teller the proverbial what-for. I too my medicine, though, wasn't really anything I could legitimately offer in my defense, and I was on my own out in the deep water of maternal inquisition.

They took Patches back and threw him under the X-ray. I was sweating bullets, worried that my son would never again throw a football, may never be able to throw any ball for that matter. When the doctor explained how delicate the situation could be with such injuries, I felt horrible for my tomfoolery. I prayed that the Good Lord would let this one slide and not punish the boy for my wanton and ill-advised dickery. After the doctor left, there was welcome silence. My wife shattered the still.

"If this requires surgery because you...."

I stopped her, as I didn't need her to speak into fruition what was already weighing upon my mind.

"Don't say it, I know, I feel bad enough as it is. Let's pray."

Soon after, the doctor came in to deliver the news.

"You son has a break in what's called the super-condular, it's a bone structure in the elbow," she said. "A lot of times, these require surgery, as I said before. It doesn't look like that's the case with Patches, but I'd like him to see an ortho on Monday to make sure."

I breathed a sigh of relief. That was good news. The ride home was quiet, as was the rest of the evening. In self-imposed penance for my peckerheadishness, I elected to not watch even a second of the game, which was in its fourth quarter when we finally wrapped up with the doctor.

I blame that loss on myself, as, in some type of karmic payback, Football Loki decided that so egregious was my behavior that he levied a stiff penalty on the boys in crimson in my absence. I didn't get the chance to see Bama beat FSU, and haven't had a chance to see the same since then. Maybe I will in 2017 when we face the Semi-holes in the Georgia Dome...who knows.

But I'll guarantee you this...on the day Alabama plays FSU again, no one in my family will be on wheels of any kind. After all, there's no reason to tempt fate, right?

This is probably the most embarrassing thing I've copped to here on this Hoodoo ledger y'all, as I pride myself on being a good parent. Have mercy on my soul for this indiscretion, and may my sacrifice please Football Loki this go ‘round.

Roll Tide.