I sort of stumbled into my taste in music, a taste that's grown
quite discerning as of late.
With help from technology, I dial up the smoothest light rock tunes of the '70s and '80s in no time.
Artists oozing cool retro vibes like Hall & Oates, Toto, the Doobie Brothers, and Boz Scaggs make up my mix tapes these days.
Music has even inspired a recent exercise kick, following a regimen I've dubbed "half and half": running half a mile in half an hour.
I'm seeing steady progress aided by listening to the greatest soft-rock hits of yesteryear with a device called a "Walkman."
You should totally check one out.
I've no doubt these and other virtuous attributes were entirely self-discovered on my part, forged in a constant quest for self-improvement.
Other traits, however, were involuntarily inherited from that group of folks you can't voluntarily choose: the dreaded "F-word," family.
My family, for example, always had a love affair with Fritos Scoops. I don't particularly care for the chips but tolerate them at the bottom of a chili bowl, as a shovel to unearth massive piles of French onion dip, or smack-dab in the middle of an otherwise bland turkey sandwich for some salty crunch.
Putting the inherited bag of Scoops aside, some have accused me over the years of being a bit stubborn. I absolutely positively refuse to entertain such nonsense, not ever, ever, but if true, my stubbornness is hereditary.
Speaking of "hereditary" — the word means something determined by genetic factors, capable of being passed on to offspring.
The definition provides certainty about where my love for SEC football originated and I suspect it's the same for you, too: SEC football is inherited.
You don't just stumble into it like I did with Hall & Oates. No one decides on a whim they're a Georgia Bulldogs or Ole Miss Rebels fan. Surely no sane soul in recorded history ever chose to adopt the "Woo Pig Sooie!" cheer of Arkansas Razorbacks fans.
It doesn't work like that. You see, in these parts, family passes down love of that uniquely Southern staple, a way of life, really, that we call SEC football.
Love for the finest football in the South is cultivated, nurtured, tended to, worked over, repeated and handed down through generations, like a gumbo recipe or a receding hairline.
And, as with everything familial, SEC passion runs deep.
Your parents decked you out in pajamas from their favorite SEC school. You do the same with your kids now.
You wore jerseys to games as a young buck. Your kids now sport jerseys emblazoned with their favorite player's number, little Jake Fromms hurling mini footballs through the air.
You were toted to tailgates and watched the band march as kickoff approached and nervous anticipation mounted. Your kids now soak up the game-day atmosphere from their perch atop your shoulders.
You heard dads — insurance salesmen by day but football experts on weekends — say, "If I was coachin' this team I'd stop tryin' to be cute and just hand off to [running back] every play." You uttered those same exact words last season.
You carefully choreograph fall Saturday activities around kickoff, and entire fall calendars around the broader football schedule. The art of doing so was not learned independently.
Your emotional well-being for four months — hell, your whole sense of self-worth and happiness — is tied to the success of your SEC football team. This is your family's fault, not yours.
You may be known to enjoy a beverage before, during, and after the game. Family doing its thing on you.
I'm told some SEC fans yell at their TVs, believing sincerely their antics impact the game. Such ridiculous behavior was learned somewhere.
This fall, appreciating the good and less-than-desirable traits inherited from family, and as another decade of southern-fried football concludes, take it in with a nod to those who passed it down to you.
Maybe it's a faint but still palpable memory of holding your grandfather's hand walking into your first SEC game.
Perhaps it was suppertime conversations your parents kicked off with that most loaded of questions, "How the Tigers lookin' this year?"
Regardless of who introduced you to Southeastern Conference football and all the tradition that comes with it, you owe it to those who came before you to pass it on.
Let's do that this fall; pass the inheritance on.
In the meantime, I'll practice what I preach and, lo and behold, look what we have here! I don't like 'em, but a bag of Fritos Scoops beckons, and that big bowl of dip needs scoopin.'
Ben Prevost writes SEC Banter during college football season for The Times. He can be reached at SECbanter@hotmail.com