Each week this season intrepid reporter, serious journalist, your best friend, and time-travel enthusiast Son of Crow will sit down with good Tiger Aubie and a special guest from history. The three of them will talk football and preview that week’s matchup. Up first, the Washington game.
Me: Hello Auburn fans, I am excited to start this series. Aubie and I are both ready to get into this week’s preview. Washington had a good team last season, and this matchup looks almost too close to call. Aubie, how do you see this one playing out?
Aubie: Crow, you know what you call a husky with bananas in its ears?
Me: Uhh, no
Aubie: It doesn’t matter, he won’t be able to hear you anyway.
Me: Okay, thanks Aubie. If you’re saying Auburn’s pass rush is going to make it impossible for the Washington offense to exploit Auburn’s inexperienced secondary, then I agree.
Aubie: More like Lossington
Me: Sure, but can we try to be a bit professional, I’m already the guy who writes the crap articles on this site. If anything, I need these game previews to restore some sort of credibility with the dozens of readers I get.
Aubie: Plus, you look like you wash windows with your tongue for a living.
Me: Aubie, chill. Ok, let’s just get to our historical guest. This week we are welcomed by one of my heroes. A man whose contribution to the world was immense. A man who wrote some of the greatest novels and short stories of all time and can only be described as “the most famous American writer in history.” A man whose seminal novella The Old Man and the Sea was released on September 1, 1952, sixty-six years to the date of Auburn’s season opener with Washington. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Ernest Hemingwa—
Aubie: Why did the fisherman go out to sea?
Hemingway: He was a fisherman. He was a man of courage and his ambition was true. He needed to fish the way you or I need to breath or to find a lover.
Aubie: Not just for the halibut?
Hemingway: The fish was a marlin. It was a noble fish and it fought well against death.
Me: Uhhhh, I think Aubie was telling a joke. Anyway, Mr. Hemingway I am so happy you are here today to talk with us about this game that has, at best, a tenuous connection with your book.
Hemingway: I tried to make a real old man, a real boy, a real sea and a real fish and real sharks. But if I made them good and true enough they would mean many things.
Me: It’s one of my favorite books, but I am not really sure what it has to do with Auburn football, I just wanted to have you on.
Hemingway: It’s a real story so it can mean things to people no matter the circumstances. What is Auburn football’s marlin? If they find it and strike out against it with courage then the story has an obvious connection.
Aubie: What do you call a fish with no eyes?
Me: Aubie, plea—
Me: Well, for most Auburn fans the Georgia game and the Iron Bowl are each “Marlins” in their own right.
Hemingway: And they are always on your mind? There is nothing to do but fight. To be brave and settle your disputes when you can find them. You may not always win, but you fight those bastards to the death every year.
Me: I mean, we try to. Auburn actually won both games last season.
Hemingway: If they were Marlins that would be a catch you’d remember the rest of you life. And you would tell your grandchildren to prove to them your bravery. To show them how young men can be bold in the face of danger.
Aubie: So many wins, we were almost getting...shellfish.
Me: Aubie. (whispers) You’re embarrassing me.
Hemingway: These two victories, did they make you feel a sense of pride? Did you sleep well after last season, knowing you gave everything you could give and that your ambition was met with success?
Me: I mean, not really, they were proven to be sort of meaningless wins by the end of the season.
Hemingway: You struggled against man and nature. You’re efforts were pure and you bested your foe. In isolation against the world, your aim was true and your spirit clean. Sweat is only wasted when spent in a way that doesn’t prove a man’s worth against nature or his fellow man. You must punch the other fellow in the face. And only then will he recognize your worth.
Me: I think I understand your book now.
Hemingway: The only meaning is the one you can make for yourself out of a chaotic world. You can only prove yourself to yourself. The old man was salao, the worst form of unlucky. The old man proved his luck only by matching wits with a worthy adversary. But the Marlin was strong. The old man needed his cunning and his might in order to win and then he found his meaning.
Me: Yeah but then he doesn’t even get to keep the fish?
Aubie: He didn’t Mako-out too well...
Me: He sure didn’t Aubie.
Hemingway: He found the only true meaning there is. He was true to himself and the purpose he set out for himself.
Me: So the games have no meaning, but we should keep playing them anyway because they are... good?
Hemingway: They are good because the only good in this world is something by which to test one’s strength. Men must find ambition and set their minds to conquer. We have to taste our own blood and make the other fellow taste more of his.
Me: Ultimately the man keeps fishing, even though fishing has no meaning besides it is what he chooses to do.
Aubie: And it keeps him from getting crabby.
Me. And that. So Auburn starts this season with no hope besides the hope it can make for itself, the Tigers play 12 meaningless games, but each game can have meaning if the Tigers play them as hard as they can?
Hemingway: What other meaning could there be?
Me: I don’t know, a trophy or something.
Hemingway: The only trophies I kept were lions larger than your tiger here. Great predators I bested as only another hunter can. They were brave but I was braver and the competition was intense and my sweat was rewarded with the kill. The trophy was the evidence of the win, but not the goal. No one gave me a golden cup to prove I beat the lion, I had a dead lion to show for it. I made meaning out of nothing simply by not surrendering.
Me: Beating a lot of teams and not getting any trophies is kinda the most Auburn thing there is, Ernest.
Hemingway: Then you understand how to make your own meaning. And that life is best lived bravely and earnestly and you must prove yourself to yourself alone. If your football team can be brave, and can stare down your opponent and make him feel your will, you have won.
Me: Well, we are all out of time. So, uh, to conclude, Auburn will beat Washington 35-21 and it will only mean that Auburn beat Washington..or something, I don’t know. Thanks to our guest, Mr. Ernest Hemingway, for stopping by and helping us preview the game. Any last thoughts, Aubie?
Aubie: Auburn wins, and finds life’s porpoise.
Me: Yeah. Jack’s never letting me do another game preview. So long.