My two little nieces from Connecticut come south every year for a visit. The girls love me. They call me “Uncle Bubba.”
Last summer we met for barbecue in Tallapoosa, Georgia. Tallapoosa used to be called Possum Snout. The city celebrates New Year’s Eve with a Possum Drop.
This year we had lunch in my sister’s hometown of Anniston, Alabama. I thought I should take the girls a gift. My wife, Angela, agreed. She suggested something sweet, pretty and Southern. I bought my nieces a pair of stuffed possums.
The girls loved their possums. Angela gritted her teeth and took pictures.
A few weeks later Angela and I were on the road again. I started talking about possums again. Angela loves me enough to call me out when I’m acting dumber than usual. As sweetly as she could, she said she thought my spirit animal was a possum.
I didn’t know what a spirit animal was so I looked it up. Wikipedia said a person’s spirit animal posses the traits and skills of their human counterparts.
Ouch. If I’d been asked, I would have said my spirit animal was a lion or tiger or bear. Being compared to a possum will make you take a second look at yourself.
I did, and swore to get better. I figure If I work hard and get more sensitive and show more love and concern for others I can quickly upgrade myself to squirrel or chipmunk. By this time next year, my spirit animal could be an eagle. Or at least a crow.
Until then, I’ll have to remember there are worse things to be compared to than a possum. SEC football is about to crank up again, and if you want to see something really offensive, take a peek at some of the sideline mascots.
When the Ole Miss mascot was a Colonel Sanders look-alike named Colonel Rebel, the school was accused of everything from racism to insensitivity to poor home training.
Now they have a bear. People don't go wild for Rebel the Bear, but so far he hasn’t been accused of racism. If Ole Miss can change, so can I. Hotty Toddy.
Texas A&M’s sideline star is a female collie dog named Reveille. Miss Rev is usually on a leash. A girl? On a leash? Possums 1, A&M zero.
A hound named Smokey snoozes on the sidelines during Tennessee games, but fans go wild when the Volunteer, a student in a buckskin shirt and coonskin cap, races onto the field waving a rifle.
Animal skins and guns? Possums are looking better and better.
Florida has two students walking around in velveteen alligator suits. A boy and a girl. Albert and Alberta. Florida thought having male and female mascots was being “inclusive.”
The school is now getting complaints from people who claim they are neither male nor female. They say promoting male and female stereotypes (even if they are reptiles) feels like an assault. A possum has never been accused of gender discrimination. Yay, me.
The most offensive SEC mascot works for Mississippi State. It’s a bulldog. That’s not a problem. This is: Mississippi State’s mascot is named “Bully.”
Talk about out of touch. Bullies are now considered more dangerous than North Korean nukes and lower than KKK members. You never heard that about a possum.
And I never forget that my favorite country singer, George Jones, was nicknamed “Possum.” I liked George so much I named my favorite boy cat after him.
If I share a spirit animal with George Jones, that suits me just fine.
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