Tonight, my alma mater, the University of Alabama, faces off with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for college football’s national championship. Some people may not realize what an epic and historic matchup this game is, but I submit the following excerpt from Midlife Mouse. The rivalry, respect and animosity between these teams goes back decades. Remember, I wrote this in the summer of 2010, as Alabama was coming off a national championship victory over Texas and Notre Dame was coming off yet another coaching change.
Enjoy, and Roll Tide!
Chapter 22: “A Kiss for the Ages”
“I don’t understand,” Bill said. “I don’t…” He trailed off. Sure he had his neuroses, but he had never been given to such flights of fancy. Once, when driving drowsy after a long day and night at the store, he mistook a mailbox for a whitetail deer and swerved to miss it, nearly flipping his car. And there had been the time he thought he saw a leprechaun on the beach while on his Jubilee watch. But the Mobile news stations (and later YouTube) had been all ablaze with reports of a leprechaun sighting across the bay in Crichton.
Bill’s leprechaun turned out to be a mangy nutria rat that, for reasons unknown, drunken teenagers had caught and dressed up in a Notre Dame dog sweater. The Gipper, as he came to be known, reappeared on the beaches from time to time and became somewhat of a local legend — but never to the extent of the famed redfish, Louisville Mashgill, God rest his soul. A sighting of the Gipper was a portent of good news, as it typically preceded a Notre Dame defeat on the gridiron. And there are few things dearer to an Alabama fan’s heart than the humiliation of the Fighting Irish. As for the sweater, it must have been constructed of the highest grade synthetic fibers, perhaps with a touch of Kevlar, because it rarely showed signs of weathering.