I was at the local grocery store in the small Alabama town where I’ve been hanging out for the past couple of weeks. An older man (probably about my age if I were truthful) is leaving the deli counter, a package in his hand, walking toward me.
He looks me in the eye and says “If I had any peanut brittle I’d give you some.”
I figure he’s talking to the women behind the counter, so I smile vaguely and turn my cart into an aisle, looking for something on my grocery list. He follows me and calls out. “Have you ever made peanut brittle?”
I respond that I had, but it was a long long time ago. He repeats the question. I repeat my answer. He comes closer and says he’s sorry he can’t hear me. So I say it again.
“Where’s that accent of yours from?” he asks.
“Michigan,” I say.
“Your team gonna do anything this year?” he asks.
I look at him blankly.
“You’ve got a good new coach.”
I figure out he’s talking about the University of Michigan, so I just nod in agreement…backing up down the aisle.
“You living here now?” he asks.
“No…just visiting.” I say.
“Well if you’re living around here you got to make a choice.” he says. “You got to choose either Alabama or Auburn. Doesn’t much matter which you choose but you got to make the choice.”
“You know this guy?” he asks, pointing to a store employee behind me shelving cans.
“No, I say.”
“Hey there!” says the clerk to the man.
“He’s rooting for the wrong team” says the man.
“I still pray for you every night.” says the young clerk smiling.
All three of us resume our business but the smiles stay with me as I drive back to the house. I’m still not sure what peanut brittle had to do with anything. But people sure are friendly down here in the South. Except on football weekends.
Just down the lake is a boat dock with a flag that flies. The homeowner has made his choice clear. For those of you not from around here that’s the Alabama A blowing in the breeze.
Wonder what would happen if I were to hang Auburn’s flag at the end of our dock.