The Tuscaloosa Honeysuckle
They say that necessity is the mother of invention but I think opportunity must be the father.
I'm in the 15%. I cheer for Alabama passionately. I root mercilessly against Auburn, and I actually did for several years carry books to classes on campus, take tests, receive grades, live in a dorm, etc.
That was a long time ago.
I am a working grown up now, with a wife, kids, and season tickets that come with a hospitality suite.
So, November 5, 2011.
If you don't automatically remember this day, you will. It was the Game of the Century. #1 LSU was coming to Tuscaloosa to play #2. The kids did not get to go to this game. My wife and I headed to Tuscaloosa stupid early because you have to get set up in your tailgate spot and get the TV out and the DIRECTV dish aimed before the good stuff comes on. This is standard operating procedure. Nothing to see here. Been done a hundred times.
But this day was different. My son had been born the previous winter. He was nine months old, so my wife was nursing. Nursing is one of those things that has come a long way out of the shadows. It's no longer hidden behind closed doors. There are all sorts of accoutrements and what-not to enable women who are nursing to live a normal SEC life, considering that a tiny human derives all nourishment from their boobs.
Being without the baby all day to go to the game means that mama starts to feel the pressure, so she has to bring along a breast pump in order to relieve it. No problem. You plug it into the generator or the cigarette lighter because of course you bring the adapter. Nobody has time for clogged milk ducts.
So at various times throughout the day, my wife filled sterilized little bottles with sterilized little yellow lids, and where do you think the elixir of life is going to go on a long southern football Saturday? Of course, it's going in the cooler right between the marinating ribs and the Miller Lite.
You just can't let that go to waste, and it doesn't matter that the freezer was already full at home with sealed and dated breastmilk baggies.
Pressure averted, the day went on. This was supposed to be a 2:30pm kickoff, but due to the significance of the potential national viewership, CBS negotiated future concessions with ESPN to broadcast this game at 7:00 - great for ad revenue, bad for boobs.
The game lived up to the hype. The top rated defenses traded punch after punch, and Cade Foster, bless his heart, couldn't seem to make a field goal. The backup kicker even had one blocked. The 1st quarter ended 0-0, and the 2nd quarter 3-3. Halftime was every bit as electric as pregame. Especially in my wife's shirt. But you can't take a big fancy breast pump that looks like a bomb into the stadium. I think it's in fine print on the back of the ticket. NCAA rule.
As tradition dictates, we disappeared to the hospitality suite to hang out with other people who spend their hard earned money on hors d'oeuvres and air-conditioned restrooms. As we ate Cajun chicken poppers and watched Verne & Gary analyze the game, my wife looked at me with guilty eyes. She didn't know what to do. She couldn't make me leave the game. She couldn't let her boobs explode.
I'm a caring husband and I didn't want my wife in pain for the second half of the Game of the Century. So we met in the family restroom to figure out how to solve this problem, stealthily and careful to avoid suspicion of being those people who hook up in public bathrooms.
Safely in the family restroom, 'Occupied' clearly visible to any other people with small children needing the changing table, my wife removed her top. This is fantastic. Her mammary glands were bulging and clearly visible through her skin. First, we tried manually expressing - that means we squeezed her boobs in the attempt to milk her into a stadium cup. But it wasn't working. The mammary system often needs to be primed to express - it is designed to respond to a very particular trigger.
By this time, the 3rd quarter had resumed. Cade Foster finally found his mojo and put Bama on top 6-3. The crowd outside was raucous.
Meanwhile, I was doing the only thing I could do to help the #1 defense in the country when real life intervenes in SEC fandom.
I was nursing my wife.
She recalls me saying this while taking a break:
"Hm. That's warmer than I expected."
There I was, in the hospitality suite, in the family restroom, on my knees, suckling my wife. Class-attending, test-taking me could not believe this moment. It was a gameday experience beyond my wildest dreams.
In an altruistic effort to relieve my wife's pain, I did what I had to do. It was a sacrifice not to be in the stadium to cheer on the team for part of the 3rd quarter. Also wanting to get back to the game, she gave me tips and pointers on how to do it better & faster. When success was achieved, I peeked out the door and slipped away for a white cupcake with a red icing A on it. To avoid the walk of shame, about a minute later my wife came out free and clear, since the hospitality suite was basically empty given the preeminence of the game.
There you have it: The Tuscaloosa Honeysuckle. It simply means that at a live SEC football game, you suckled your actively lactating wife in the stadium - because she needed you to.
We made it back to our seats before the 4th quarter. LSU kicked a field goal to tie the game. Both teams kept trading punts until overtime, and then, Cade Foster, bless his heart, shanked it one more time and LSU drove a stake through our heart with an offensive powerhouse third field goal to win 9-6.
That was the end. We lost the game of the century. I put in my best effort that day, and in spite of all I had given, we came up short.
However, the karma of my sacrifice came around. By the time January arrived, the Game of the Century had an unlikely rematch. LSU was not happy.
21-0 Alabama. National Championship. Roll Tide.