I was down here. Not at the game, but Grandmama’s, Lee Drive. I’d been to ’87 and ’88. In ’88, Mom got some tickets from one of her friends, a bigwig at CBS. Someone offered her $300 a piece. She probably would have sold them had they called back.
Point is, no way a 5th grader was going to get into ’89.
Dad and I drove down from Birmingham the night before. I journal’ed about it that day in school and later included it in a story I wrote that ended with me having powers like Star Man.
I was 10. I knew the significance: first time in Auburn. Huge, huge. It took a little to understand the significance of the significance. But you felt it.
We came 65 / 85. We rolled into downtown around 7 at night. There’s the clock tower glow, the huge hair, the jackets… it was bangin’. I sat outside on the window of the Lincoln Town Car, we were going so slow, blaring The New Kids on the Block’s “Hangin’ Tough.”
“We ain’t gonna give anybody any SLACK!” — Slack. Like Reggie Slack.
God, it was awesome…
Dad and Russ, my uncle, got the tickets. There is a picture of us I just found, right before they left: Russ, Cousins Josh (making this awesome face) and Jenny, Dad and me. I’m decked out in face paint, Braveheart-style, and one of the two Auburn hats that I would occasionally sleep and even shower in, and wearing Auburn boxer shorts outside of my sweatpants, with a paper shaker, and we’ve got some sort of giant “Beat Bama” sign on a picket — all to watch it on T.V.! The way Dad looks in that picture is the way he still looks to me, the way he will always look to me.
Dad and Russ take off. Hours go by.
It came on. It. It.
I remember being down at half time, going outside, my soul gasping, throwing the football, throwing it, throwing it, throwing it, touchdown, touchdown… it was like, my body was praying. Dye hard. Slack attack. Slack, Wright, Slack, Wright, Slack, Wasden. Believe! No doubt! Believe! I was trying to become one with the air and the trees and the grass and sound and light and put myself there, the spiritual Flubber gas for an Auburn miracle.
“… and if you try to keep us down we’re gonna come right back.”
We come back. Of course we come back. We hold on. Of course we hold on. Slack, Danley, Joseph, Wasden, Riggins, Ogletree, all of them.
There’s something like a minute left. We’re going to win. Grandaddy gets up from the recliner. I remember watching him walk down the hall.
He comes back with an arm full of toilet paper and a smile on his face, like he’s watching us at Christmas. “Let’s go.”
We hit Toomer’s. It’s a ball pit. It’s Disney World. Emotional apocalypse.
Where are Dad and Russ? War Eagle! We’ve got to find them! War Eagle! Haaaa!! Oh God… War Eagle!
No one else remembers this, but I swear… I heard, “War Eagle! Hey, War Eagle!’, and there are Dad and Russ up on a light pole, on Magnolia, right at the corner, and that’s how we found them.
God cares about football.
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