October, the calendar’s finest month, has finally arrived in the south.
It has arrived, too — I’m told — in places like Massachusetts and Oregon, but those thankfully distant bastions of liberalism are of no concern to us here.
This is October in the SEC, when the conference schedule and fall’s colors peak, sweaters and knee-high boots triumphantly return, and we celebrate four glorious Saturdays of southern football.
The ideal month calls for dreaming of the ideal October Saturday. What would yours look like? Surely it includes good friends, family, food and of course, SEC football.
I thought I’d share SEC Banter’s idyllic October Saturday. If you can beat my ideal itinerary, I’ll buy you an Old Timer’s Breakfast at Cracker Barrel (a $7.99 value, plus tip gets us to $10). Here we go:
In a stroke of pure luck, my three young daughters let me sleep past 6:30 am. I head downstairs, make a fresh pot of Community coffee (Signature Blend Dark Roast), and slip out to Henri’s bakery to honcho some donuts.
Returning home to a hero’s welcome, the girls devour their donuts while I enjoy a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit that must have been mistakenly placed in the bag of goodies procured from the bakery. A few dashes of Tabasco on top of the fluffy egg and a refill of coffee, and I’m all set.
I settle in to skim the Wall Street Journal and take in the day’s news, and am reminded how much I miss Ronald Reagan and the good old days he presided over, when Republicans and Democrats came together in a sense of duty to the country.
Brushing off the state of affairs in our country today, I turn my focus to that near-perfect escape from it all: the golf course for a mid-morning round with my buddies.
The slightly chilly autumn temperatures arguably do not call for an extra layer, however, I jump at the chance to don a Peter Millar quarter-zip pullover featuring the proud logo of a golf club to which I do not belong.
By mid-round, the sun finds its way across the bluest, sharpest sky you’ve ever seen, and I shed the pullover to reveal a golf shirt which also displays the logo of an exclusive golf club to which I do not belong, but aspire to one distant day.
The only thing crisper than the October air is my ball striking, as I easily find more fairways than the entire U.S. Ryder Cup team in Paris. Irons are flushed, putts drop, light rock tunes from the late 70s and early 80s set the vibe, and I card a nice little 96. Boom.
Post-round, I take in a leisurely lunch and, though I’m not sure exactly what’s on the menu, I’m positive it involves an unhealthy amount of bacon.
To the soccer fields I go next and, in another stroke of pure luck, the money-grabbing girls’ soccer league in Buckhead that shall remain nameless has scheduled our daughters’ games all in the same place and in back-to-back-to-back times. Boom!
We head home after victories on the pitch to catch the second half of the SEC on CBS marquee matchup, and it’s an instant Southeastern Conference classic that comes down to the wire.
My team, Louisiana State, is not a participant in the contest. The Bayou Bengals, in fact, don’t even play on this fine October Saturday.
That’s part of what makes it ideal. I am liberated from the excruciating, near-debilitating stress that accompanies an LSU football game, left instead to observe SEC football with the interest of a lifelong fan.
The afternoon game wraps up, and friends and family pop in for some pops or whatever else is pouring.
Friends stay not too long, not too short and mercifully, the family makes an earlier exit. Basically, just long enough to honcho a bowl of chili that’s been simmering on the stove for a couple hours.
The evening’s games kick off, the cool air turns cooler, and I fire up the outdoor fireplace with a new 75-inch TV mounted above it. (Note: I have neither an outdoor fireplace nor a 75-inch TV, but this is the ideal day, darn it, so humor me).
I casually watch these games, maybe an Ole Miss vs. Auburn-type game on ESPN 2, or even a West Coast game with USC vs. someone, the fire cracking, a glass of red wine sipping, and the end of my SEC October Saturday.
I have had just the right amount of fun. I have spent time with family and friends. I have enjoyed good weather, good food and good drink.
I have had the ideal October Saturday in the south, and I hope you do, as well.
Ben Prevost writes SEC Banter during the college football season. He can be reached at SECbanter@hotmail.com