An Alaskan in Alabama (continued)

October
Life in my new home in Alabama is a swing between the Lenten and the Carnival, denial and indulgence. There is, at times, a sense of “no” beneath the pleasant smiles and voices, a gentle nudge that is also a negation. So when I buy my wine and beer it must be bagged, because it would be so, so naughty for an alcoholic beverage to go unclothed in public. I suppose it might upset someone’s delicate sensibilities if he/she were to learn that an adult woman has an occasional yen for a bottle of $6 dollar wine or a beer: make that a six-pack, as you can’t buy just one—that’s not allowed. Even when I note to the checkers that I’m putting said beverage in my backpack or one of my reusable bags, the checkers carefully wrap my beverage in a brown paper bag: which then goes into my other bag and is quickly carried home. Such attention gives me the sensation that my purchase is certainly illicit, and I feel the bag, in its many layers, seeming to call out to everyone within ear/eyeshot: “here walks a wicked, wicked woman.”

Yet while my occasional indulgence must be disguised, game days are different. On game days there are people with open containers everywhere, their plastic cups filled with not just beer or wine, but with hard alcohol. This includes campus, where men brazenly brandish naked bottles for everyone to see. Giant piles of cups, red, blue, and white, can be found on the main street and in the corners of the tailgating zones, while abandoned bottles roll over on the grass or stand still erect, as they were left, in the parking lot for days afterwards; that is until they are knocked over and broken—the glass littering the streets and glittering in the sun. The piles of trash on game weekends are immense, overflowing: there is refuse everywhere. While there’s some recycling in town, there’s still little public push to do much, and I shudder as I walk past all the waste, piling up.

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