From the beginning, they were the enemy.
I firmly believe, that in Alabama, you must be either an Alabama person or an Auburn person. Even if you move in from out of state, even if you have your own team back home, if you live in Alabama, you must have a preference between the two.
I grew up an Alabama person. There was no reason, no connection. My family was Alabama people, and so, so was I. Which, meant, by extension, that I had to be an anti-Auburn person. No reason for that, either, but it didn’t matter. Boo, hiss!
But, then, they gave me reason.
When I was at Ole Miss, we had a coach that was doing fairly well for us, our first new coach in forever, Tommy Tuberville. And we loved him dearly, and put up billboards about him, and gave him a nickname, and just all around thought the world of him.
And Auburn stole him, and he betrayed us to go there, and broke our hearts.
So then I had both completely unfounded traditional reason, and new concrete reason to dislike Auburn, and so I did.
Over the years, having been an Ole Miss student for over half my life, I’ve become less passionate about my identification as an Alabama person, since, really, I’m actually an Ole Miss person, even if I’ve kept my required “Alabama resident preference” for the Tide.
Over the years, as I’ve become friends with Auburn people, who had actual reason to be Auburn people, like, you know, having actually gone there, I’ve become less passionate about my identification as an anti-Auburn person, a transition made easier by the aforementioned Alabama shift and the fact that Ole Miss has now gone through several more coaches and Tuberville, whom I’ve been told is actually a pretty decent human being, is no longer at Auburn.
That said, it was still weird to actually wear orange and blue.
I went down last weekend to the A Day scrimmage game with Rebecca. I wore an orange shirt. We sat in rather good seats in Jordan Hare, and waved orange and blue shakers. We — or at least she — cheered Auburn cheers. I went to Toomer’s Corner and Tiger Rags.
Before the day was over, at dinner in Birmingham, for the first time in my life, I told someone “War Eagle.”
It was weird.
I don’t know that I’m converted yet.
But at least I didn’t burst into flame or anything.