On the wrong side of history. Again.

I love my state. Let me get that out of the way right now. Call it Alabama the Beautiful, or Sweet Home Alabama, or whatever you want to say. I love the land, from its piney woods to its rolling hills, to the Tennessee Valley, all the way down to its beautiful beaches.

I love the people. They’re a beautiful stew pot of rednecks, entrepreneurs, doctors, farmers, lawyers, writers, artists, layabouts and lunatics. I left for awhile, and I couldn’t wait to get back.

Alabama is my home. And yet.

And yet.

For a place that values its history as much as Alabama does, we sure do end up on the wrong side of things an awful lot of the time. We were on the wrong side of slavery. We left the former slaves in poverty and ignorance. We denied minorities the right to vote. We were on the wrong side of segregation. As recently as 2013, we tried to legislate nearly all of the Hispanics out of the state.

And now, we’re on the wrong side of history. Again.

A federal judge has stricken down Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban, and people here are aghast. How dare we let gays get married? Come on. Making a mockery of your wedding vows should be a right only heterosexual people have! Probate judges have refused to comply with the judge’s order, and Alabama’s moronic chief justice, Roy Moore, has said he will not abide by the judge’s ruling.

(Good luck with that, Roy. You were already removed from office once for failing to follow orders from a federal judge. Let’s see if we can’t make it twice in a row.)

Right now, the judge who struck the law has put a stay on her order to give the state a chance to appeal her ruling. Everyone from the governor to Moore has said they plan to fight this ruling. God forbid we extend equal protection under the law to everyone. Certainly we should never allow a minority to have the same rights as a “normal” person.

I see friends of mine—good people, people I’ve known and loved for a long time—who are upset by this. And I don’t understand it. Frankly, I don’t want to understand it, because at the core of their anger and disappointment is the same fear and bigotry that allowed a man to plant a bomb in a Birmingham church. It’s the same desolation of spirit that allowed protesters to be beaten and killed in Selma during the Civil Rights era.

You can count on Alabama to get it wrong when it matters. You can count on the Yellowhammer State, the Heart of Dixie, to find the worst position on any social issue, and dig in our heels. We find honor in being wrong, and we take pride in having our nose rubbed in the dirt of our wrong-headedness. We will do the right thing, but only if forced to do so. The worst thing of all is that we know we’re wrong about marriage equality. All we have to do is look at our history. We were wrong on slavery. We were wrong on segregation. We were wrong on Civil Rights. We were wrong on the 2013 immigration bill. And we’re wrong now.

I pray one day Alabama will finally get something right. I hope one day we can actually extend civil rights to a minority, and it won’t be a big deal. Maybe you hope for that, too. But don’t hold your breath.


Bar stories: In which I (accidentally) insult Vinnie Sunseri

The bar where I work is notorious for having regulars who like to give the bartender a hard time. Nothing too serious, but it’s normal to have some insults or other banter being tossed at you while you’re slinging drinks. You have to develop a thick skin–and be snappy with a comeback of your own.

It’s kind of an ideal situation for me. I can give as good as I get, most nights, and the clientele (usually) enjoys it when I spar with them. Sometimes I may go a little too far. Last night was one of those nights.

It’s been busy this week. Finals week at The University of Alabama, and once the kids are done with classes they like to let off a little steam. Understandable, right? Last night I had several enormous guys come in the bar. Figured they were football players, no big deal. Football players at UA are rarely public partiers. They were in to have a good time, and I carded the guys who were drinking to make sure they were of legal age. Nice guys. No trouble at all.

A little while later, they’re joined by a friend. I was busy with other customers, refilling pitchers, yadda yadda. So their friend, this little guy, tries to help me out by telling me a pitcher is about to overflow. I’d had my eye on it and closed the tap with a dismissive wave of my hand. That’s when I shouted over to him:

“Hey, I don’t tell you how to run the drive-thru at McDonald’s, so you don’t tell me how to do my job, ok?”

His buddies cracked up, and to his credit, the kid laughed, too. I go over to see what he needs, and then he straightens up. Oops. This guy is several inches taller than me and muscled out. Yikes. He orders a white Russian. I check his ID.

Sonofabitch. It’s Vinnie Sunseri. Starting safety for the Alabama Crimson Tide. You know, that team that’s playing to win a BCS championship in a few weeks. I apologized to him and told him I’m a smartass to everyone, wished the players luck in the title game.

Of course, I charged him for his drink, too. The players seemed to have a good time, and I hope everyone was cool with them hanging for awhile. I’m sure it can’t be easy in Tuscaloosa. If you’re a football player here, you are a celebrity — with all the baggage that word carries. It’s hard to go out and have a good time if all eyes are on you.

Of course, Vinnie got the last word with me–kind of.

He left without tipping. That’ll teach me.

Roll Tide anyway!

Yikes! You guys! (The Friday Five)

So, uh — it’s been quite busy around here, even though I haven’t been very active on the site. Thanks to the people over at Fark who always seem to make Halloween my biggest day by far. They broke my all-time traffic record here at the site by clicking on a couple of my horror stories. Seriously, thanks to everyone who came by to visit.

On that note, here’s why I haven’t written a whole lot: NaNoWriMo is taking up almost all of my creativity/spare time. Between the baby and the wifey and the new novel-in-progress, I haven’t had a ton of time.

Anyway, on to the new tradition here at http://bobthewriter.com, the Friday Five: five things to see/do/watch/read, etc. this weekend. This weekend’s list is pretty easy, and it mostly revolves around the BIGGEST. GAME. EVER!!!!1!!111!!1!! For the uninitiated, that’s Alabama vs. LSU in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. Like any sane person, I’m staying the hell away from downtown Tuscaloosa, which is a nightmare on normal game days, and will look something like a scene from Dante’s Inferno by the time gametime rolls around on Saturday.

Watch: Obviously, Alabama vs. LSU on CBS at 7 p.m. My lovely wife, Misty, and I will be driving from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham to watch the game with friends and grill out. My prediction? Let’s pretend I’m Mr. T from Rocky III: “Prediction? Pain.” I think these teams are so evenly matched that we’re in for a heck of a game Saturday. I’m hoping Alabama wins, but if LSU manages to triumph, I hope they win out and that there’s a rematch in the BCS title game.

Do: Make sangria! That’s my contribution to cooking out on Saturday. A well-made sangria can put you right in the mood. To do it, that is. And by do it I mean knock boots. And by knock boots I mean you know, do it. If anyone is still wondering, I mean have sexual innnnnnnnntercourse. So nine months from Saturday, maybe Noah will have a little brother or sister.

Read: I want to finish up Dancing Aztecs by Donald Westlake. Possibly the funniest novel I’ve ever read, and it led to an embarrassing situation at work earlier this week. I’ll try to get a review up on Monday or Tuesday, including the gory details of how I embarrassed myself.

Listen: When you get tired of hearing Vern Lundquist and Gary Danielson butcher the Alabama-LSU game (and make no mistake, they will), turn your radio to the Alabama Crimson Tide Radio Network and listen to Eli Gold. Since Larry Munson stepped down at Georgia, Eli Gold is the, well, gold standard of college football announcers in the best conference in the country.

Put up with: All your friends who have to say I-told-you-so when the team you picked didn’t win on Saturday. Regardless of who wins on Saturday, I hope you all have a great weekend. Roll Tide and stay safe.