My family really doesn’t get me.
I know that’s not exactly news, but it’s really been striking lately.
My grandparents have my phone number now. I’m not thrilled about that, but I had to call my grandmother when her sister died, and I didn’t want to tell her no when she asked for my number. I think she really does love me, in her own way.
When she called me on Thanksgiving, she gave the phone to my grandfather. He proceeded to talk for 15 minutes about Alabama football, how they just needed to beat Auburn (which they would definitely do) and Notre Dame (which they could probably do) to win the national championship. My grandmother left me a voicemail over the weekend to say that Alabama beat Auburn 49-0.
I couldn’t care less about football.
Yeah, I went to Bama, but I didn’t really want to. I was a National Merit scholar who could’ve gone to any college I wanted. I wanted to go to one of the good creative writing schools: Hollis, Randolph Macon, Sewanee, Smith. But my family wanted me to go to Alabama, so I went.
I never graduated, and when I was there, I actively avoided the football culture. In fact, when the Iron Bowl was a home game, my friend Eugene and I bought a bunch of junk food, rented all the Star Trek movies, and didn’t leave the dorm for three days.
I even got in a pissing match with the president of the University over football, at least in part. I wrote an editorial for the school paper criticizing his financial decisions, namely that there weren’t enough professors, academic buildings were literally crumbling, and there was such a shortage of on-campus housing that many students (myself included) were living in broom closets with roommates–all while the new football coach was making $8 million a year. The president responded to this by calling me at 8:00 AM the morning my piece ran, accusing me of lying, and threatening to take my scholarship away. When I realized the administration valued football more than its students, it made me hate football even more.
So why are my grandparents so interested in telling me about football? Part of me wants to believe it’s an attempt to reconnect and find common ground, however misguided. A more cynical part of me thinks this is an attempt to make me conform, to say they don’t care what I care about, these are the family values and I must fall in line. I’m not sure which one is closer to the truth.
I can tell you one thing for sure, though: I’m never going to worship at the altar to Bear Bryant.