Word out of fall camp is that the Great Leader has forbidden use of the word hot and its synonyms. He seeks new definitions with these men, replacing an old culture with one of his making. This is an old trick, and worthwhile. The other day, I was asked, “What food do you suppose other peoples fry on sidewalks to illustrate their amazement with the heat?” I had no answer and confess that I’m not brazen enough to propose the egg is universal.
Most of my summer has been spent scanning the Gospel of Luke for plagiarism and repairing family heirlooms. The Old Man left behind a dual-triggered double barrel with rabbit-eared hammers. From stock to chambers, trim and stamp, copper highlights it. It is heavy but balanced. As shotguns go, it is rather elegant.
Were you interested, you could find one in working condition for $200, for display $100. Let us price mine at $150, as I’ve spent too many hours this summer arguing with a faulty firing pin on the right side. But the Old Man either thought too much of his own preferences or completely misunderstood the Invisible Hand, because I am certain it’s not worth what he paid for it.
Improper evaluation was long the Old Man’s problem, often confusing time’s passing with consumer demand, missing the exit ramp to antique and heading straight for junk--a blind spot not uncommon among the Alabama fan in general.
The upcoming season presents a good many riddles. The stalwart defense is to be porous; the anemic offense is to be the life’s blood. The predictions for the season mark this. As the mercury rises, so do the prophets’ totals: six wins to seven to ten--all claiming to be realists. Reasons are given, all contradictory.
The offense will benefit from better play calling, but the defense will suffer without depth.
Quarterback and receivers are experienced, but walk-ons are starting in the secondary.
Most of the tough games are at home, but many teams have an off week to prepare.
None of this makes sense, and you’re better served by clearing your head until there’s actual football to watch.
But if you have the bad habit of following your instincts toward the nearest neon sign, you’ll often leave your good intentions and your money on opposite sides of the door. Worse still, you will occasionally land where you don’t belong. And by the time you figure out that the oddly dressed woman across the table isn’t taking her clothes off, it’s too late. You’re in the shadow of those neon fingers in the window, forty dollars poorer, and might as well go along for the ride.
“Date and place of birth,” she asks.
Halloween. Fairmont, West Virginia.
“The name most people call you?”
Nick, or coach.
“What is your favorite color?”
Currently? Crimson. And green. Probably not in that order.
“Your rising sign is twelve degrees in Capricorn, which means you are very ambitious, an achiever, a hard worker--you respect success. Your sun is in seven degrees in Scorpio; you can be furious and unforgiving . . .”
She goes on for every planet, every sign. I make out a few lines about “rootless, unsettled lifestyle” and “you are outraged when others show contempt for authority” but am mostly comparison shopping in my mind about what two twenties would buy down the street. What is true about astrology is that it blends two of humanity's deepest characteristics, one of our best and one of our worst: our desire for understanding and our capacity for self-flattery.
Which brings me back to Alabama’s upcoming season. Practices are closed, so no one has seen this offense that has supposedly exorcised its red zone bugbears. The 92,000 lunatics like me who attended A-Day saw nothing more than the store-brand vanilla. How can such sentimentality be trusted to accurately evaluate this team’s worth? How can any of us posit an honest appraisal when our hearts are so in the way?
Which brings me back to the shotgun. I resemble the Old Man too much, for I’m sure I’ll never sell it. Besides, given the bulk and swagger of its design, the left side alone is enough to do the job.