Mother's contractions got worse. "I felt like a washing machine," she said. "Crammed with a bean bag chair — set on spin cycle."

I'm about to break my own rule and write about something I swore I never would. Not since Chad Talbot read a five-page essay on Joe Namath in the fifth grade and put the class to sleep.

May God have mercy on my soul.

It was late December. Cold as hell. My mother went into labor during the first quarter of the Liberty Bowl. Bama versus Illinois.

She huffed like a freight train, while my father sat on a vinyl chair watching the black and white television. When the doctor came to visit Mother, he too made a beeline toward the TV. Daddy cranked up the volume.

The voice of announcer, Joe Kapp, called a four-yard touchdown, drowning out Mother's panting.

"Touchdown!" Daddy and the doctor yelled in unison. Then, Mother says they did some happy-cussing.

During bowl games, there are two kinds of cussing. Happy-cussing: reserved for touchdowns. And dog-cussing: when fans instruct opposing coaches or referees to eat a substance commonly found in barnyards and cow pastures.

By the third quarter the

delivery room was full; two custodians, four doctors, a handful of lab techs, and one maintenance man, each with his back facing Mother.

Illinois scored. A river of dog-cussing followed.

Mother's contractions got worse. "I felt like a washing machine," she said. "Crammed with a bean bag chair — set on spin cycle."

Fourth quarter: Mother was already baying like a coonhound. The doctor asked if she wouldn't mind keeping her voice down.

And then it happened.

As fate would have it, during Bama's winning touchdown, a long-legged, big-toed, redheaded bullfrog entered this world, covered in crimson slime.

My daddy snatched the toad up and brought it near the television set. He tapped the screen. “You see that man, son? That's Bear Bryant, the best coach of all time."

"Yep," said the doctor to the frog. "This was Coach Bryant's very last game tonight. History in…

"No one likes a copycat..."

I had a friend who almost drove me to the brink of insanity. He did everything the same way I did it. The same damn way. He even combed his hair like me. But to be fair, I've decided not to tell you his name, or else he might get pathetically embarrassed. And we wouldn't want that.

Anyway, one day the friend I was just referring to, Andrew Milligan Kerley, said to me, “Hey, are you going to the roller derby costume party?”

Going? There was no question about it. In fact, I'd spent five years perfecting my outfit for it — which was top secret. I was going as the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz.  And the reason I'd chosen such a costume was because Molly Baker was famously going as Dorothy.

And I loved Molly Baker.

“You bet your donkey I'm going,” I told Andrew.

“You bet your donkey I'm going, too,” copied Andrew.

I placed my hand on his shoulder. “Don't copy me, Andrew, it's rude.”

He placed his hand on my shoulder. “Sorry.”

I sighed and shook my head.

So did he.

The night of the skating party, kids dressed

up to beat the band. There were costumes of all shapes and sizes. Robots, sailors, princesses, cowboys, and soldiers.

And then I saw her. Molly Baker. She stood in the corner, looking as cute as a stick of butter, the spitting-image of Dorothy.

But before I could even lace up my skates, something shot past me. Andrew Milligan Kerley, pathetically dressed as the Scarecrow. He rolled right up to Molly and made a grand bow.

Later that night, I sat outside on the curb, mumbling obscenities to myself. Words that would've landed a boy in prison. That's when Andrew's daddy pulled up in a rust-covered Pontiac.

He hopped out, stumbling like a fool. He took one look at me and giggled. “Hey, boy," he said. "Your momma sent me here to pick you up, you little brat.”

Then, he fell limp against his truck and lit…