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 the making. Don’t you ever forget that.”
Well, there’s no way the frog ever would forget such a thing. Because his mother tells him this story every year on his birthday.
And when Bama wins the bowl this year, it will be told again.