Undercover Barner: The Bear Lamp

I consider myself extremely lucky to have grown up in Auburn and Opelika. The food, the games, the people, and the Auburn Spirit were always within arm’s reach.

And nothing makes you appreciate that more than moving away, especially to the heart of someone else’s fan experience. Moving to somewhere like Tuscaloosa or Athens also makes you appreciate those rare moments when you can connect with another member of the Auburn Family ©, someone who understands

Since moving here at the beginning of the month, I’ve had a lot of time to ponder one of my favorites part of being an Auburn fan, the glorious War Eagle Moment. Now, are my WEMs as cool as the ones from the commercials? Well, yeah, obviously. They’re in TUSCALOOSA.

I mean, just picture it: It’s a dark, overcast day at University Mall on McFarland Boulevard. There’s a crappy song playing in the background, probably something by Coldplay. I’m struggling to navigate a busy store with hundreds of crimson-clad people streaming on either side of me, clutching houndstooth blankets and Bear Bryant commemorative lamps (more on this later). A kid with a mullet bumps into me, sending my bags to the ground. I look up to see a lady or a fellow sporting that classic interlocking AU Auburn logo, our eyes meet, and we exchange a knowing "War Eagle." All is well.

Okay, so that may have been a bit of an exaggeration. Or complete exaggeration. Really, the only part of it that really happened was the part about seeing someone sporting the interlocking AU logo and exchanging knowing War Eagles. That part totally happened. But the rest could have happened. I just haven’t been to the mall yet. In all seriousness, War Eagle Moments are good for the soul, wherever you are. Mine this week ranged from my bank teller to a really nice couple treating their granddaughter to lunch at Taco Casa. In Tuscaloosa, I had 11 War Eagle Moments in one week, something I would have never thought possible three years ago (last time I lived here). Those little pieces of home help me retain a little bit of sanity when the world around me is screaming about The Process.

They also help when one happens to meet unfriendly confrontational Alabama fans. Please note, these people are not the rule, even in Tuscaloosa. Usually, most people save the rude comments and superiority complexes for gameday or comment sections. But every now and then, I’ll run across an ornery store clerk with witty jokes like, "Oh you’re from Auburn? I’m very sorry about that. Do you sleep with the cows?" and I just have to remind myself that I have a lovely village to which I can return and these people are stuck with Tuscaloosa forever. And at the end of the day, back in Auburn, we don’t have entire displays at WalMart showcasing $53 Bear Bryant lamps -- we may have our own ridiculous stuff, but we don't have those. So really, we’re coming out ahead.

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Yes, that really is a $52.87 lamp with a houndstooth shade. Gotta love this place.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight, and War Eagle.

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