Monday, December 15, 2008

Watching Football in the West Is Hard

(Originally written on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2008, but later updated)

I slept until 11:15 a.m. today. Which means I actually slept until 1:15 p.m. Which means I missed the kick offs of the early NFL games.

Fuck. Watching football in the West is hard. It is also absolutely mind blowing.

On Saturday, I was invited to the house of a University of Georgia graduate here in Jackson to watch the Georgia-LSU game. The party was being hosted by my best friend's wife's work friend's best friend.

Got that?

Anyway, I am told that approximately a dozen people will be at her house to watch the Georgia-LSU game. It is the CBS game, which means it kicks off at 1:30 p.m., which means it really kicks off at 3:30 p.m. (I refuse to acknowledge Mountain Time when referring to football kickoffs.)

At approximately 1 p.m., I arrive at the house.

Inside the house, humans are struggling for dominance. There are 12 people and nine dogs. I was not prepared for this kind of human-to-pet ratio. We are almost outnumbered by these beasts.

There are dogs everywhere. In the house. On the back deck. In the kitchen.

Inside the living room, there is a high definition TV, lots of seating and about four to five girls here in Dawgs regalia. They are all UGA graduates, cheering on the Dawgs. One of them is actually shaking a pom-pom in her living room.

This is the kind of environment I thrive in.

As the afternoon progresses, I'm having really intelligent conversations with these Georgia girls about SEC football: Fulmer's job security, Vandy's descent back into mediocrity, whether or not A.J. Green is Jesus in cleats.

I feel right at home. It's almost like I'm sitting in someone's living room on Milledge Ave., except that I can see the Grand Tetons from the kitchen window.

That's the interesting part. But here's the weird part. There are about six dudes here, but none care about football at all. They are not even really watching the game, and frequently get up and walk in front of the TV screen on critical third down plays.

I think I underestimated how much it would bother me being removed from people who care about football.

I spent the last 13 years getting paid to cover SEC football. It was my job. I love the sport in weird and passionate ways.

That's why I am about to punch the guy sitting next to me at the bar during the SEC Championship game. This is actually what he actually said to me after Tebow ran the ball on 1st and goal at the 5:

"You know, that Tebow only runs the ball because he wants all the glory."

If this man had instead just turned and barfed on my arm, I would have been less disappointed in him. I felt like a 12th grader who was inexplicably sent back to 3rd grade. And here I am, an 18-year-old spending hours in a room with a bunch of 10-year-olds being told how to subtract.

Watching football in public in the Rocky Mountains (Colorado, Wyoming, etc.) is horrifying. My favorite is when a group of four walks into the bar on a Saturday night and says, "Ohhh. Look. College football. I wonder who's playing?"

Recently, I went to lunch with 10 coworkers. Five were male. There were three bowl games on and not once did any of the males look at the game or even acknowledge games were on.

I'm not sure about some of the guys out here. They're just really weird.

I am having a hard time respecting the guys out here.

How The Hell Did I Get Here?

I'll never forget Reggie.

Reggie was the first black man I ever saw in Jackson Hole. Ironic, because Reggie was from Jacksonville, not Jackson Hole.

I did not see a black person during my first six days in Jackson Hole. Not bad considering Jackson Hole's population is 0.21-percent black. That's less than a quarter of one-percent black. The 90210 kids at West Beverly High likely experienced more diversity than this.

Anyway, Reggie from Jacksonville made me smile. He stepped out of an Atlas Van Lines rig on a chilly September morning in Jackson Hole, rubbed his hands up and down his arms and said something I'll never forget:

"Damn. It's colda than a mutha fucka out here."

I laughed. After a week in Jackson Hole, I was a little homesick. And Reggie provided a quick remedy. Not only did he bring me all of my furniture, he also brought some diversity. A little Southern flavor.

I will never forget Reggie.

So, what the fuck am I doing here? What idiot, at age 32, leaves behind dozens of friends he loves and moves to Jackson Hole, Wyoming by himself without knowing anybody here?

The change in lifestyle was beyond my comprehension. It was like going from dating a 20-year-old stripper to a 40-year-old nun.

I think I completely underestimated the complexity of this move. For two days along this journey out West, I did not actually have a home or own a car. I was like a vagabond, but with good credit and married friends who own homes with guest rooms.

See, I came here after a lifetime in the south. I grew up in Atlanta and spent the last 14 years living in Southern college towns: Five years in Athens, Ga., nine years in Gainesville, Fla.

My entire life was soaked in Southern culture. College football. Chick-fil-A. Hootie and the Blowfish. Jean shorts. Trucks. The state of Tennessee. Overalls. Fat people. Sweet tea. The Waffle House. Ignorance. Confederate flags. Dollywood. Bama bangs.

I fucking loved it all. Mostly, I just enjoyed standing in the shadows and observing the circus unfolding around me. I mean, when you live in the south your whole life (but are not a Southerner at heart), you find complete humor in shit like knowing they sell giant beers at the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, or being told the Troy University football team's media luncheon is at the Barnhill's Country Buffet.

However, what would happen if I left the South? What if I lived somewhere where people were interesting, women relied on their personality rather than their looks, and there was no crime, anger, hostility, ignorance, fake tits, make-up or short guys with huge muscles? What then? Would it be uninteresting?

I could spend a lifetime being entertained by all the ironic humor of the south. But what I was curious to discover whether or not a place with dignity would be interesting.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

NOTE: Below is my old blog, "Blowing Smoke"

I wrote some stuff years ago that I might (or might not) still believe. Anyway, this garbage is below.