Lessons, like algebra, are hard. (Well, for some of us, anyway.) They require repetition. I was provided my latest life lesson this week in Chicago. On a mini-vacay with the fam, we did what out-of-towners do and ate at Lou Malnati's. And that's where the newest installment to my ever-growing library of life lessons was offered up, courtesy of one somber Bama fan.
For those not initiated into the sandwich-like, flavor-infested glory of Lou Malnati's Chicago deep dish...well, suffice it to say it's a bucket list item. It's a meat and cheese sandwich nestled onto the best pie crust you've ever had. Grab your fork and your knife, and most important of all, your appetite, and dive in. Literally, you could dive in.
But I digress. We're here to talk life lessons. Chicago and its magnificent lakefront safely behind us, I'm adding another to the pantheon of lessons that've been deposited onto the road of my life journey....Life Lesson No. 765: Don't engage Bama fans. Just don't do it. There's really no worthwhile end game even remotely possible.
This comes on the heels of reaping the rewards of Life Lesson No. 71 the previous week: Doesn't hurt to ask. When legendary Hog QB Fred Marshall (you know, he of the '64 national champs) walks into the office, and an old school Razorback felt pennant is just sitting there on your office wall....
Marshall, who went to school on the Hill with my boss in the mid-60s, is a true gentleman. Gracious and accommodating, and perhaps even a little pleasantly surprised to encounter a fan who remembered him. He signed the pennant with gusto.
When I asked if the weight of that Cotton Bowl win on New Year's Day '65 took a while to sink in, he responded that the entire team missed a Cotton Bowl banquet held that night because team members were glued to TVs back in their hotel rooms, watching Texas beat Alabama.
So, they fully understood what they had played for earlier in the day, even if the AP did not.
Fast forward to 2016, and after noticing a Bama fan waiting near us for a table at Lou's (decked out in Bama cap and Bama coaches polo - do they come any other way?), I acted against my better judgment and decided to engage. [Sigh]. Perhaps 60 seconds later (it felt longer), I came away with the following observations:
- This guy, and frankly almost every Bammer I've ever encountered, is dour. I mean, textbook. Lighten up.
- I get it that Bama looks down its collective nose at everyone, and that little ol' Arky is a mere blip on the fall radar. But pretending to not know who I represent? Come on, man. It's a big red Hog on a white background.
- The guy is convinced Bama is unbeatable. That goes without saying. Sadly, he may be right. And he's more sure than ever the Tide D will be faster. Like it needs more speed.
- That SEC West brotherhood flag? No salute from Sunshine, not even a nod.
My only consolation was knowing that the pounds of carbs he likely consumed shortly thereafter will only add to his massive girth. The Tide D may be getting faster; the fan base, not so much.
All this takes me back to Life Lesson No. 1 - the Golden Rule. Just be nice. And we were. We were actually complimented several times for our "Southerness." People notice when your boys say, "Yes, ma'am," and "Yes, sir" and hold doors. And when we'd answer that we were from Arkansas, folks would say, "Well, that explains it."
I sure hope our sullen Bama fan represented half as well. The experience at Lou's reminded me of the "Trust, but verify" line Reagan used when negotiating with the Soviets: Just be nice, but don't necessarily engage.
Which leads us, indirectly, to Life Lesson No. 2: Football season can't get here fast enough...