The date was December 4, 1999. Alabama was playing Florida for the SEC Championship in the Georgia Dome.
Barely into the fourth quarter, UA defensive lineman Reggie Grimes had just returned an unlikely interception 38 yards to give the Tide a commanding lead. Predictably, an ABC film crew panned to the jubilant Crimson Tide crowd.
That’s where ‘it’ happened.
By ‘it’ I mean the moment where an unsuspecting person is caught doing something out of character or incredibly awkward for the entire world to see. “It” could be a nose pick, hard-core crotch adjustment or a yank on the back of the pants to pull underwear out of his or her backside (or, as my family has always discreetly said: “get the letter out of your box”).
Sometimes “it,” though, is a poorly executed dance move. I mean, like the way your drunk uncle dances at weddings: unconventionally and post-modernly with a grimace of concentration that makes you wonder if you should check WebMD on your iPhone for symptoms of a stroke.
Unfortunately for the unsuspecting 30-something this time at the SEC Championship Game, the “it” was definitely a(n attempt to) dance.
Who the person was in this case is unknown to me. What I do know is that this otherwise normal-looking Caucasian ’Bama fan did the absolute worst rendition of the “cabbage patch” I have ever seen.
Certainly, tucked away somewhere in the bowels of dance history someone else has done a more horrific version of the once semi-popular move, but I personally have never seen it done so badly. Granted I could do no better, but I was not the one caught on camera. As a white, middle aged male myself, I remember thinking, Jeez, guy…Thanks for reinforcing a bad—even if true outside of the Timberlake family—stereotype.
That man, that poor, poor, man, is probably still living down his five seconds of infamy with his buddies. In 1999, that was the probably the most embarrassing thing you could be caught doing on tape at the spur of the moment.
Now it’s 2017. Video-enabled cell phones are commonplace. It is as easy to upload a quick video to an Internet site as it is to write a sports column. When you do something weird, awkward or maybe even downright illegal in today’s world, there is a great chance someone is taping you for a future Internet broadcast. Sooooooo…smile!
Haven’t we learned anything from TV, though? First came “America’s Home Videos” and “Cops,” but those weren’t enough for us. Next was the sadomasochistic “Jackass” followed by “Cheaters.” We still weren’t satisfied.
Now there are an infinite number of YouTube-esque sites dedicated to capturing unwitting people doing embarrassing (if not nefarious) things or broadcasting attention-starved folks hurting themselves for their “look at me” moment.
In essence, there are literally people out there with a camera on standby just waiting for someone to trip on the banana peel. I even saw a shirt in a boutique window recently that said, “Be Careful! What You Do Today Will Be on Facebook Tomorrow!” Truer words have never been spoken. (Also, don’t ask why I was looking in a boutique window…I am just hopeful no one recorded it.)
You know why? Because there is a market for it. While we hope we never are unknowingly caught on camera ourselves, we laugh when we see the videos of people who are because it wasn’t us. But it could be us next.
I was in the stands for the 2017 National Championship game, and when Jalen Hurts scampered for his long TD run to give ’Bama the lead against Clemson and I promptly lost my mind in the excitement, I may have, in fact, cabbage-patched. At the very least, I did the “running man” with a hint of “nae-nae” awkwardly mixed in.
After approximately seven seconds of that out-of-body-experience last January, I harkened back to that man from the ’99 SEC title game. Maybe he was onto something; maybe we should all just be happy when the moment strikes. Maybe life is too short to worry if other people think you look silly. Maybe we should dance as if no one is watching…
Nah, we still both looked like dumbasses.