by Brian Oliu
Week One: Alabama 35 – Virginia Tech 10
We never know if the boys have the horses, or the elephants, or whatever it is we choose to believe is behind the hearts of twenty year-olds until the time comes for the unveiling of the tarp on the pool: we brush the dead leaves uncommon to August aside & hope for the best, always, that the water hasn’t turned orange, or maroon, or green while we were sleeping comfortably inside the house, dreaming the dreams of champions.
Week Two: Bye
The claim is that we haven’t won anything yet & that everything is different, but we all know that at best, it is a soft reboot: we hold our fingers in strange places & wait for the screen to flicker, for everything to come to a warming without warnings of torn knees or bad backs–we hear whispers of walking boots & breakups, distractions & regressions, everything that tries to prevent us from being us–this team that we love will not survive without the city behind it; that what is expected is expected–that to do anything less than that will give us all pause & panic & fear of an elephant falling.
Week Three: Alabama 49 – Texas A&M 42
Of course, everything unfolds as it should, as is the case when you have God or Gods (though never god) on your side: that the team that should win, wins–yet we are unpleased with imperfection; that there is hope that there is something else in between the pine-trees outside of Bessemer that have yet to travel down to Tuscaloosa just yet–that the defense is caught in traffic, that the offense is too young to know when they’re in a bar fight until they’ve been cracked over the head by someone who has finished their beer already.
The Leviathan did the world a favor, of course–vanquishing ol’ Kid Football back to long nights of short sleep, that our monster rumbles towards the desire to be perfect; to have no soft spot peeking out under armor, that the statue itself will be made of a crystal ball made of the crushed chandeliers of our enemies, that they foolishly thought they could live this large while we were still in the room.
Week Four: Alabama 31 – Colorado State 6
And yet we return to the fear here: a game against old friends that turns sour when things don’t start off as crisply as we had hoped–there is a smile in the eye of someone who believes that they have this thing won. Down here they use words like ‘kind,’ & ‘classy,’ to describe us–a handshake & a welcome–a suggestion to check out the barbecue across the street, directions to parking spots barked out beautifully. Our words flow like syrup because we know that this is a vacation for you–that you have canceled plans, you have kissed loved ones goodbye, you have woken up early to get to the airport online. You have checked a bag. You have rented a car. You have come to pray for the unthinkable–you let yourself dream that something miraculous could happen; that you can tell everyone that you were there when the beast was slain. However, we know that you are rams to the slaughter: we will cut your horns and wear them as tusks. We will smile and shrug and wish you well on your way home.
Week Five Preview: Ole Miss at Alabama
At least we’re not is a common phrase around here; that we have our shortcomings, certainly–our veins are filled with salt, the posters cannot stick to the walls of our molded schools, our money is no good here, but at least we do not live somewhere else–a few miles to the west makes all the difference. It is Faulkner’s Birthday Week, yet I dare not celebrate: his sentences too long for me to decipher–give me a nickel defense instead, let me understand the blitz. May the mothers be fishes. May the mothers be mothers. May the mothers be anything but a bear, a rebel, because good gosh all mighty we are in for a fight; let us throw you in the river & push you under: send you south down and around the gulf and have you land back where you came. At least we’re not you, and at least you’re not us. Let us dream for a little bit longer. Let our dominance in a field with no meaning beyond what we give it bring us closer to something we can hang our hats on.