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Friday, July 15, 2005

What People in Cali don't know about Bama

First of all, most Californians couldn't locate Alabama on a map. Of course, they probably couldn't locate any other southern states besides Florida either. They might have trouble with the midwest too.
To Californians, the rest of the country is just a mindless wasteland of towns with no beaches. I heard some really mean comments about the "red states" from some of my co-workers here in California. I happen to love the "red states." So, naturally, I see this holier-than-thou attitude of many Californians to be what it really is--ignorance.
I tell people out here that I'm from Alabama and they look at me like, "oh, but you seem so normal!" They are envisioning something out of the movie Deliverance. The city in Alabama that I lived in is Birmingham.
Birmingham still ranks as #1 on my list of towns I'd like to end up living in. It's got everything you'd need from a big city--shopping, entertainment, excellent medical care, great schools, recreation. It's also got all the benefits of a small town--people know you, you can go to your favorite restaurant and order "the usual", your neighbors are nice and help you out.
Then there is also the aforementioned addiction to college football. Last year my husband flew me down to an Alabama football game for my birthday. There is nothing like sitting in a packed stadium with about 80,000 crazy fans whose happiness depends on the success or failure of a bunch of 18-22 year-olds. I do literally mean that their happiness depends on it. Don't ever try to talk to my husband when Mississippi State loses a game (which they often do) or to my brother during a game that Ole Miss is losing when they were supposed to win. Yikes!
Of course, the south knows how to tailgate too. In Oxford, you go to the grove for a fashion show/drink-a-thon/networking/reminiscing/nicer-than-most-wedding-receptions tailgate. In Tuscaloosa you walk up and down the quad on your way to Bryant Denny saying "Roll Tide" and getting offered food and beverages from complete strangers just because you cheer for their team.
Every SEC college town has their own traditions, and these usually include the sorority girls wearing sundresses, the frat pledges sweltering in suits and ties, the moms and dads who are alums reliving their college experiences year after year, and a bunch of fans who didn't even go to school there, but pledge their undying allegance to the school.
But I digress. As you can imagine, as summer turns to fall, a southerners thoughts turn to football. Oh, who am I kidding, they were already thinking about it.
I guess Red-state-ignorance is a real problem, but I'm sure the red states don't mind. They like the people that do know that a red state is a great place to live. The people that live in red states are well-traveled. They vacation in all parts of the US and beyond, but they always come home to the red states with a smile.
I remember a trip I took to London right after college. I had such a great time and my eyes were really opened to the European way of life. I had fun on the tube, in the city, in pubs. When I got back to Birmingham I was overwhelmed with the beauty of home. The curving streets with trees hanging over the top, making a tunnel of foliage, the country clubs with the hilly golf courses, the houses with aged brick and perfectly manicured lawns--these are the things that still make me tear up when I go back to visit.
So, Californians, when you imagine a place like Alabama or Tennessee, I hope you can imagine something besides a scene out of a movie. I hope you can imagine the beauty and traditon I've described. That's home to me!

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