Mobile came in from a morning walk in the oppressive August heat and humidity she has been doling out for the last 316 years.
“Geez, it feels like a dang ol’ sauna. I like being called hot, but this is not cute hot, this is nasty hot,” she thought to herself. “There isn’t a deodorant on the market that can protect from my kind of heat.”
Tired, she sat down on the couch to get some rest.
As she was thinking some hipster beauty product company should really come out with deodorants with cutesy names like “Stuck Pig” or “Church Whore,” the phone rang.
When she picked up her cell, she was shocked to see it was Alabama.
The state rarely called Mobile. Much like Alabama’s largest news website, everyone knew she heavily favored Birmingham. And while she appreciated the revenue Gulf Shores and Orange Beach brought in and often visited them, Mobile seemed to not be of much use to Alabama — well, except for her port. At least that’s how Mobile felt. She and her counselor had been working on this in therapy for quite some time.
But for “the beautiful” one to call her, something must be up, she thought.
“Hello,” Mobile said.
“Hello, darling,” Alabama said. “It’s your favorite state calling.”
“Yes, I know, it, um, has been a while. What’s up?” the Port City asked warily.
“Yes, I’m sorry about that. But, as you know, my dear, I am having my bicentennial celebration next year, and since, you know, you had your tricentennial celebration not too terribly long ago, I just thought I would check in and see if you had any thoughts or suggestions for the festivities,” Alabama said.
“I take it Birmingham wasn’t available,” Mobile said, unable to conceal her jealousy. “Oh wait, she’s only 147. I guess you couldn’t really talk to her.”
“Well, of course not. She’s just so young and vibrant and cool. A stuffy old celebration like this is really not her thing. That’s why I am calling you, dear! I guess you heard she got a Shake Shack?” Alabama beamed.
Mobile listened as she doodled Birmingham’s “Vulcan” being shot at by our cannon.
“Yeah, a fast-food burger chain. She must be so proud,” Mobile said sarcastically. “When — or if — you ever come back here, I’ll take you to Butch Cassidy’s or Heroes or Callaghan’s or Rosh…”
“Oh yes, of course,” she interrupted. “I’m sure they are nice but Shake Shake started in New York City and they picked our little Birmingham. I’m just so excited for her!”
Mobile wondered if Alabama could literally feel her eyes rolling at her through the phone.
“Well, you didn’t call me to discuss greasy, overrated burgers. How can I help you on the bicentennial?”
“Well, I mean, I’m sure you’ve seen I have a whole committee and events and a website. But I was kind of thinking we should have a Mardi Gras parade too.”
Mobile perked up. And started talking at a rapid pace, as she does when she gets excited.
“Well, of course, we would love to do that for you. I mean, we love to throw a parade for anything. I’m sure all of our Mardi Gras organizations would just love to be part of this and it would give me a chance to show off my downtown ….”
“Well, yeah, the thing is, I was kind of thinking we should have it in Birmingham,” Alabama said.
There was dead silence on the phone for what seemed like an eternity.
“Let me get this straight. You want to have a Mobile Mardi Gras parade … in Birmingham? Not in the city where Mardi Gras started in all of North America?”
“Well, yes, dear. I mean, it’s more centrally located and it would expose all of the Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills people who are scared to come to Mobile to one of our state’s greatest traditions. You know, just not in Mobile,” Alabama explained. “So what do you say, laissez les bon temps rouler … in the Ham?”
Mobile took a deep breath. This aggression would not stand. Can you say secession?
But before she could launch into the state, who is last in almost everything, she awoke on her couch, drenched in sweat.
Hmmm, “Drenched” should be another hipster deodorant fragrance, she thought. But never mind that, she was just thankful this had all been a terrible nightmare. But she wondered where such insecurity could be coming from. She wasn’t sure, but she had been a little down lately.
With the Mobile BayBears leaving, she would have a giant baseball stadium sitting there empty. How long would it take to get another team — if ever? And if they didn’t get one, what would they do with it? And to add insult to injury, her BayBears could become Moon Possums. WTF?
She was embarrassed by the whole Ladd and USA stadium debacle. It had torn her council and community apart, and for what purpose? USA is going to build a stadium no matter what. All of the bowl games are going to move to it. And like it our not, Ladd will be a 40,000-seat stadium hosting four high school games. The plan to downsize the seating in Ladd and IMPROVE it — not simply demolish it — made sense, but the whole issue got distorted and turned into something it shouldn’t have. What a mess.
Speaking of messes, she thought about the I-10 bridge. After the particularly horrendous traffic this summer, she could only imagine what people traveling through her must say. “Mobile, you must mean Slow-bile,” she imagined all those folks from Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas saying to their friends back home. Stupid tunnel-honkers, who cares what they think? But she often wondered if she would be celebrating her quadricentennial before it was finally done.
She thought, sometimes we just can’t win for losing. And the majority of this “losing” seems to be self-inflicted.
“Nope, I’m not going to do this,” Mobile said to herself, as she looked in the mirror.
“I am Mobile. I am beautiful. I am historic. I have amazing architecture and gorgeous, old oak trees. I have a bay that has a gigantic battleship sitting in it. I have a cruise ship and I assemble airplanes and warships. I am the land of blue crabs, redfish, Dew Drop dogs and scoops of Cammie’s Old Dutch. Yeah, I know, I know I talk about it too much, but I did start Mardi Gras and I have a MoonPie that drops down a building every New Year’s Eve. My people may be crazy, but they love me and they love each other. You can keep your Shake Shacks and Trader Joes, I already have everything I need.”
Mobile walked back outside, feeling good about herself. “And hell, at least I’m not Montgomery.”
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