As we begin another Thanksgiving Day, I want to pause and give thanks for one of the more recent revelations I've had, but one that has changed my life immeasurably for the better. Almost exactly 2 years ago, I switched my allegiance over to the Georgia Bulldogs.
Like another person who recently posted their Dawgography here, I used to be a Tech fan. I come from a family full of Georgia Tech supporters, in fact. My parents passed away when I was just a baby, so I was raised literally for as long as I can remember by my aunt and uncle. (My uncle happens to share the same first name as me... kinda funny how stuff works out. And he has a son who's a "Junior." We feel like George Foreman's family sometimes. "Hey George! No, not that George, the other George! No, not that one, either!")
So anyway, like I was saying, I've been raised basically my entire life by Georgia Tech fans. And I mean, these folks are huge Tech fans. My uncle graduated from Tech (several times), but believe it or not, he still audits a class or two at Tech every year... that's how big a Tech fan he is. (Personally, I think he does it so he can still get student tickets. It's kind of creepy, because he's at least 80 years old, but no one seems to care.)
In spite of all his fandom, though, my uncle is kind of a hermit... few people actually can claim to have seen him, and he seems to be a master at slipping out of camera shot right before someone takes a picture. I'm not sure why he's like that. Because he's such a die-hard Tech supporter, though, people venerate him as one of their most revered alumni.
And, of course, his son (my cousin) went to Tech, as well. He seems to be stretching out his college career, just like his dad did, trying to milk the fame while it lasts.
As for me, I went along with their über-fandom at Tech growing up... you know how impressionable kids can be. We just want to fit in at that age. And when people are lavishing so much attention and praise on you as "one of the sons of our most famous alumni,"... well, it's kind of fun, you know?
As I got into high school, however, the Georgia Tech thing started to wear on me. All my cousin and his buddies ever talked about was how the Georgia Bulldogs really sucked this year, and how funny it was that they had a coach whose name they could make fun of and call him "Ray Goof." (Actually, most of the time they just called him, "Goof.") Every week, instead of talking about how Tech's team did, they would sit down across from the kids in the cafeteria who were Bulldog fans and make fun of them, usually calling them "Goof-lovers" in the process. One day, I even said to my friends, "Hey guys, you know we just won the national title, right?" One of them just slapped me in the face with his slide rule and kept berating the "Georgie's" (as they called them).
As we progressed through high school and got ready to go to college, there was no question where we were expected to enroll. I probably shouldn't tell you this, but the President of Georgia Tech himself actually came to our house when we were high school seniors and hand-delivered applications to George, Jr. and "George the third" (as I was called at that time). We both had the test scores to get into Tech, but they just wanted to let us know that not only were we expected to matriculate on North Avenue... they were going to recruit us.
Call it teenage rebellion, call it angst... whatever, man. I have the brains to do the engineering stuff, but I'm just not a "math and numbers" kind of guy. As a teenager, I enjoyed reading medieval literature while listening to Taylor Swift as I drove my pickup to Olive Garden to meet my hot girlfriend and her hot friends. But I didn't want to cause an uproar in the family, so I enrolled at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I knew immediately that I'd made a mistake, and I told my uncle so after my first semester. He told me that he was proud of me for admitting it, and that he would totally understand if I wanted to transfer to Agnes Scott College. (That's my aunt's alma mater.) I needed to break away, though... so I spent the rest of my college years at Mercer University in Macon. And you know what? Those were the best 4 years of my life.
I don't think I ever really realized how many people don't play World of Warcraft and talk about differential equations and how good or bad their DM was last weekend in normal conversation until I matriculated at Mercer. And on the weekends, my friends and I would go to Atlanta, and I would get to experience a part of the town I'd never seen as a the son of a Tech man. (You know the parts outside of a library, computer lab, or friend's basement.)
After graduating from Mercer, I settled down in neutral territory in Henry County with my wife and have had a couple of jobs since then. I've worked in insurance, mortgage banking, and since the bottom dropped out in those things, I'm now working with a buddy in the liquor distribution business. But, hey, I'm providing for my wife and kids, and we're happy.
The coup de grâce occurred almost exactly 2 years ago. I was sitting with my uncle, cousin, and their family, watching them celebrate after the Jackets walloped the Dawgs (in Sanford Stadium, no less), and I was both not surprised and was disgusted that instead of celebrating the win, they were celebrating the fact that Georgia had lost! I decided that night just to drop the pretense and embrace the Georgia Bulldogs wholeheartedly.
And you know what? I'm a much happier person now! I find that I cheer and root for my team, instead of just against other teams. And my friends in Henry County (most of whom were Bulldogs already) welcomed me over "from the dark side." And my team's head coach has no jowls! In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he volunteers as a youth minister on the side... just for kicks.
And, hey, we've had a couple of disappointing years the past two years... but it still beats the hell out of being a Yellow Jacket. So, this week of all weeks, I'm cheering for Georgia to stand up tall and humble the bumblebees. Stand up, boys, and make the Purdell family of Henry County proud!