I’ll admit it. As I grow older and crankier, I have become more and more defensive of our “sweet home.” I am keenly aware Alabama deserves many of the “accolades” it is bestowed — dead last in all the nationwide designations you want to be first in and first in all the things you want to be last in. You know what they are: education, the environment, health care, poverty, housing, infrastructure, opportunity, crime, weather, general (fill in the blank) awfulness.
Sure, I could give you specific examples in all of these areas where we deserve big, fat Fs. But I could also point to good people or organizations who deserve A-pluses for trying to make all of these things better too.
But in any case, at some point, you get tired of your state being the nation’s punching bag. You feel us, Mississippi and West Virginia? I know you do.
It’s the same with our families. We know their faults — and they ours — better than most, but we also know what makes them incredible too.
We can talk bad about them, but no one else can.
I feel the same about our state.
A New York-based friend of mine recently expressed reluctance to visit me because I lived in a “red state” and did not approve of the way we were handling COVID. Not Alabama specifically, just all red states, in general. I am not saying our governor provided the textbook example of handling it either — we were all trying to navigate scary, uncharted waters — but I wanted to say, “Now whose governor is embroiled in a scandal involving COVID nursing home deaths? Well, it ain’t mine! Roll Tide!” (The Roll Tide would have just been added to maximize my friend’s disdain — if I had said any of that, but I didn’t, of course. And my friend and I still love each other. I know it was just stressed-out pandemic talk.)
Hell, our governor could have her own COVID-deaths scandal at some point too, although we would probably never know about it, because our open records law is so putrid. (You guessed it — we’re ranked #50 on that list too!) But I am going to take this slightly moral high ground while I can! Mama always said, you gotta get while the gettin’s good!
So yeah, I am tired of hearing how terrible we are — even if a lot of it’s true — and I’m even more tired of saying, “But have you seen our beaches and mountains or did you know this brilliant scientist or amazing singer or athlete or writer is from here?”
You start to feel like a broken record. And there comes a point when you start to wonder if that person who is telling you, “I swear I’m not crazy” is, in fact, insane.
One day you just shut up and love your state like you should love everyone — warts and all. And who cares what “they” think?
And I have reached that point. For the most part.
There is one area I feel we deserve 110 percent of the ridicule we are getting and where we should own the top three spots on “the terrible list.” And that designation my friends and fellow Alabamians, should be for the “Unsexiest Political Sex Scandals of All Time.” Or maybe “Cringiest.” Or both!
The first one in recent history, of course, involves our dear lovesick “Luv Guv,” Robert Bentley, a septuagenarian whose wife of 50 years left him after she discovered he was having an affair with his top advisor, Rebekah Mason. How did she find this out? Because he accidentally texted his wife “I love you, Rebekah.” Doh! Such a rookie cheater mistake!
Mrs. Bentley went on to bring him down by taping his conversations and releasing those as well as his sexts (if you can call them that) to the media. And that’s when we were treated to such “unsexy” gems from the Lovernor, as “You know what? When I stand behind you, and I put my arms around you, and I put my hands on your breasts, and just pull you real close. I love that, too.”
Also, moving poor Wanda’s desk so they could be louder. Ewww.
And my personal favorite text, “Bless our hearts … and other parts.” This should really be on a pink T-shirt in the gift shop at every Cracker Barrel in Alabama. Of course, in a scripty font. Bonus points if a monogram is worked in.
Not long after the Luv Guv went riding off into the sunset, another Alabama political cowboy galloped into his own sex scandal atop his horse named Sassy. Former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court (and failed candidate for Senate and governor) Roy Moore was accused of trying to pick up girls as young as 14 when he was in his 20s by cruising the Gadsden mall. Of course, he was accused of other more terrible things too, which he denied, but the images and accusations that will forever be associated with this scandal are what puts it on the “Cringiest” list, including signing high school yearbooks, being banned from the mall and who will ever forget him speaking at a rally in Fairhope, wearing a leather vest, cowboy hat and brandishing a tiny gun.
And I wonder why we are such a perpetual punching bag?
That brings us to our latest scandal involving 57-year-old Secretary of State John Merrill. Merrill certainly had loftier political ambitions, including running for Richard Shelby’s U.S. Senate seat. On the day he planned to launch his senatorial campaign last week, it was revealed the married church deacon was having an affair. I will say Merrill has always been very responsive to media requests, but apparently, he was also equally responsive to women who are not his wife.
And in true Alabama fashion, it couldn’t just be a simple, garden-variety “illicit affair,” involving stolen glances and parking lot meetings, like one Taylor Swift would sing about. No, this one had his paramour dishing out all of the gory details — including butt plugs and disproportionately-sized “weird” testicles.
Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.
We have to do better with our sex scandals, Alabama. I’ve seen the ones from other states. Theirs are more glamorous, with dashing young congressmen and models on yachts in the Bahamas.
We get geriatrics and butt plugs. I fully expect our next scandal to involve some sort of erotic use of a walker and/or bedpan.
Our sweet home, Alabama … No. 1 in sex scandals involving people who you never want to imagine having sex.
We are guilty as charged on this one. But I still love our state, warts and all. (Not those kinds of warts. Get your mind out of the gutter!)
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