I was born during an Alabama game. I have a Polaroid photograph of my father wearing scrubs and surgical cap.
The photo is faded. He’s eating spaghetti, nose pressed against a television which sits in the corner of a delivery room.
It happened like this: my mother called him from her delivery-room phone. He was at work.
“I’M IN LABOR!” she said in all caps.
And, like any proud, soon-to-be father, he jumped in his truck and broke the sound barrier to get to the hospital in time for kickoff.
Alabama was playing Illinois. It would be the Bear’s farewell game. I was born during the fourth quarter.
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. My father passed twelve years later.
I don’t want to talk about the particulars because this is New Year’s Day. And while I write this, Alabama has just won the Sugar Bowl.
The day after my father’s death, I quit watching sports altogether. Even baseball. In fact I didn’t do much after he died, except stare. I was good at staring.
One day, my uncle arrived on our porch with tickets in
hand. “You wanna go to a football game?” he said.
“No,” was my response. I was a very busy boy, I had a lot of staring to do.
My mother shoved me out the door. “He’d love to go,” she pointed out.
It was a long drive. We picked up my friend, Danny, who had irritable mouth syndrome—he could talk the wires off telephone poles.
Thus, we sat on my uncle’s tailgate while Danny talked. And talked. And talked. And it was the worst day of my life, second only to my first colonoscopy.
My uncle stood at a grill, poking a hamburger.
“How ya want your burger?” he asked. “Medium-well, or boot leather?”
I didn’t crack a smile.
You can’t blame an uncle for trying.
Throughout the game, Big Mouth Danny…