[in the moments just after the final whistle in Georgia's upset win over then-#9 Auburn, which eliminated Auburn from contention for the SEC West title]
ME: Well, that's that. Not sure why I traveled all the way to see this game but, like it or not, that's the result: Alabama's won the division yet agai-
GUY I WENT TO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WITH, WHO WAS APPARENTLY NEARBY THE WHOLE TIME: Nuh-uh. No. It isn't over yet.
ME: What? No, it is. Auburn lost to Georgia, just now. Auburn has two conference losses, while Alabama has none, and each team only has one conference game remaining. There's nothing we can-
SOMEONE I MET AT A FRIEND'S DINNER PARTY ONCE: Those results are preliminary.
ME: Excuse me?
PARTY PERSON: Ok, pull up the standings. You see, it doesn't say 'final' standings yet. The results won't be official until December. Right now it's completely up in the air. Anything can happen.
ME: I don't see how you could sit through the game we just watched and believe in anything, but also - that logic just simply doesn't hold up. Look, I don't like it any more than you do, but when these standings are finalized, they'll show the same thing that they do today, and-
FORMER COWORKER: Auburn's scored more points than anyone in the SEC this season.
ME: okay well I know that's not true without even looking it up
AUNT I HAVEN'T SPOKEN TO IN A WHILE: The points are still being counted. There's thousands of points still being tabulated.
ME: Yeah, but most of those are from Alabama-Mississippi State. Also, hey Aunt Debbie.
EXTREMELY AGITATED MAN WEARING KNIT BEANIE: LOOK. LOOK. This is proof that Nick Saban isn't even the coach of the Crimson Tide. [thrusts rumpled printout at me]
ME: [squinting at URL] this is from AUBURNSPORTSGLOBALDAILY.NET
BEANIE GUY: Yeah. The mainstream media isn't even covering it.
ME: Why would Auburn have a global sports daily
BEANIE GUY: There's other sources. Look at this! [brandishes another printout]
ME: [reading aloud] ALABAMA DEFENSIVE FRONT ACTUALLY STOLEN MILITARY ROBOTS and this is from WARDAMNEAGLE.RU okay well actually both of these things sorta make sense when you think about it
WOMAN WHO BOUGHT AN IKEA BOOKCASE FROM ME ONCE: The whole divisional set-up is unjust. Auburn's wins count so much less than other teams. It's clear that this team would beat any team in the SEC East.
ME: I mean, except Georgia
BOOKCASE LADY: What
FRIEND'S EX WHO I NEVER BOTHERED TO UNFRIEND BECAUSE THEY DON'T REALLY POST THAT OFTEN AND I DON'T REALLY KNOW THE TACTFUL WAY TO DISCONNECT FROM: I HAVE STARTED A PETITION
ME: ... go on
FRIEND'S EX: THERE IS CLEAR LEGAL PRECEDENT FOR THE SEC TO RESCHEDULE GAMES MID-SEASON.
ACQUAINTANCE WHO IS NOT A LAWYER: [putting on glasses] This stands up to legal scrutiny.
ME: What are you suggesting?
FRIEND'S EX [now standing on the shoulders of the bookcase lady, with a megaphone]: It has come to my attention that the SEC cancelled two games against FCS opponents in order to create a late-season matchup between LSU and Florida.
ME: this is just coming to your attention now? We were all het up about this for a week earlier this season. It's amazing to remember when that was the thing people were mad about.
FRIEND'S EX [to a large and growing crowd]: We can petition the SEC office to do the same. Auburn and Alabama both play FCS opponents this coming weekend - Alabama A&M and Chattanooga, respectively. All we have to do is demand that they play conference opponents this weekend, and Auburn will still be mathematically in contention for the title.
BYSTANDER: You know, this whole scenario reminds me of the ele-
EVERYONE: IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT. THIS IS NOT AN ALLEGORY. GODDAMNIT, DALE. WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO DO THINGS LIKE THIS.
BYSTANDER: Sorry... I just... I'm sorry. Sorry.
ME: Listen, everyone. I know you're upset. We're all upset. We just watched the Tigers lose an unwatchable game to an unwatchable team, and we're faced with the prospect of Alabama's looming tyranny. I wish as much as anybody that we could change the result, go back and unmake mistakes that were made, re-write history, but we can't. No harebrained scheme or Rube Goldberg device is going to save us now. We have to calm down, regroup, and figure out what we need to do to see different results in the future. We cannot let Alabama break our spirits.
[there is a long, thoughtful collective pause]
FORMER COWORKER: Maybe I'll just start rooting for an ACC team.
[collective laughter, followed by a deep shared sigh]
DINNER PARTY ACQUAINTANCE: LET'S BURN DOWN THE GEORGIA DOME
[cheers, gathering of torches and pitchforks]
ME: Why does every Auburn season have to end in arson
DISTANT AUNT: have I told you about my juice business