Acceptance is only way to cope with LSU

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The church I grew up in wasn’t a particularly stuffy one.

By the time I left it in 2003, drums were a part of the Sunday worship. The overhead projector had replaced the hymnal. And ties were hardly required for the men of the church.

Yet, for the most part, the members and regular attenders still dressed nicely — khakis and dress or polo-like shirts for men, nice slacks or skirts for women.

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So my first Sunday at a new church in Natchez was a bit of a shock.

It took me few seconds of standing in the sanctuary surrounded by strangers to figure out what seemed weird.

People were wearing T-shirts, and purple was everywhere.

Men, women, children — they were all wearing purple.

It struck me as very odd, but surely a strange coincidence.

I tried to focus on the worship service, figuring out which minister handled what task, etc.

Then, about halfway through the service, it hit me. This was Jan. 4, 2004, and I wasn’t in Oxford anymore.

I had entered LSU country. And, oh, about six hours later, the Tigers would be playing for their first National Championship title since 1958.

It was then that I learned that Natchez — though a part of Mississippi — is Bengal country. And it’s then that I began missing the red and blue I’d spent 22 years surrounded by.

You all know how the 2004 bout ended, and four years later, you know what happened Monday night too.

And those of you out there who are Ole Miss, Mississippi State or Southern Mississippi fans know just what it’s like to live in the shadow of gaudy purple and gold. You’re probably dreading the next year as much as I am.

LSU fans are devout, that’s for sure. They seem to bulk order in purple and gold, and for some reason Mardi Gras beads are timely all year long.

You don’t have to be an LSU graduate, or even a flunkie, to growl like Mike. You just have to have a little Cajun blood and an acceptance of glaring, bold colors.

Oh, and you must be loud.

In Oxford, we only had to deal with LSU fans 2-3 times a year depending on how the schedules fell.

During the Skip Bertman era, baseball was their thing, and shouting was their ring.

A baseball fan myself, the days around the diamond were my first exposure to the society I now live in.

Diamond Tigers heyday was during the dark years of Ole Miss baseball, and it wasn’t uncommon for the Tiger fans to fill our stadium better than we did.

The beautiful thing though, we could always send them south again.

Now, in the dusk of a second National Championship in five years, I’ve succumbed to acceptance.

I hardly even reacted when some of my LSU friends from church covered my car in purple and gold writing Sunday night. I just paid $8 for the car wash the next morning and moved on.

I’m certainly not denying my inbred hatred for LSU, don’t get me wrong. I’ve just learned to live among the loud, the proud and the overwhelming.

Besides, it’ll only be bad for a year. By 2009, the crazed LSU fans of the Miss-Lou will have put the national title behind them and become regular, friendly, loving people again.

The purple T-shirts are traded in for dress shirts and polo-like pullovers, and life returns to bearable, until next time. Let’s just hope the gap is a bit longer this time.

Julie Finley is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or