Bill's Blog


Posted on August 26th, 2016

Next Thursday morning, I am leaving my wife. After 35 years of marriage, we are going to be separated. It won’t be the first time in our marriage that we’ve had a separation. In fact, for the past 35 years, we’ve been separated every year from Labor Day to New Year’s Day. 

I’m not moving out of the house, although if the truth be known, Claudia probably wishes I would for the next few months. 

My bride and I will still be living under the same roof, but I’ll be spending several weekends in Knoxville, and whenever I’m at home, I’m likely to be sitting in my lounge chair in my den. 

If all goes as planned, I’ll be leaving the house in early December for a trip to Atlanta and then spending either New Year’s Eve in New Orleans or, if things go well, back in Atlanta followed by a weekend in Tampa. 

You see once again this year Claudia and I are interrupting our marriage for the college football season. 

I’m a college football fanatic in general, and a Tennessee Vol football fanatic in particular. Claudia knew this when she married me. We should have put it in our wedding vows.  “In sickness or in health, for richer or poorer, for winning seasons and losing seasons, and forsaking all other SEC teams, particularly Alabama and Florida!” 

My poor wife has tolerated my addiction to football ever since Ronald Reagan was in his first term as President. During our annual autumnal separation, she prefers the weekends when I actually get out of the house and head to Knoxville. On the weekends that the Vols are on the road and I am at home, poor Claudia has to hear me screaming at my TV screen in my den.  

When my daughter Margaret Grace was just a pre-schooler, she asked me a question I was unable to answer. She was sitting with me in the family den on the third Saturday afternoon in October while I watched my Vols in their annual loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide. I was miserable. My beautiful princess climbed up on my lap, threw her arms around my neck, and asked, “Daddy, why do you watch Tennessee football? It makes you so unhappy!” 

I had no answer then, and I have no answer now. 

And so next Thursday morning, I will kiss my wife goodbye and head out I-40 East to Knoxville. There I will meet my Vol buddies and take my place in Neyland Stadium Section QQ, Row 6. 

I will miss Claudia over the next few months, but I doubt she will miss me. She will particularly not miss me if the Vols lose to Florida again this year, and I know she will not miss me on the third Saturday in October. 

I predict we will be reunited next January. We may even renew our wedding vows … either at half time at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans or at the National Championship game in Tampa!


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Jim Slater: First, I should disclose that I am a Florida fan. I too, am a lawyer, but unfortunately, have spent my career up until now limiting my creative writing to contracts and memoranda, with a few complaints and briefs thrown in when the real estate market went off the tracks.I am going to guess that your two heroes were Clarence Darrow and Atticus Finch, two of mine as well. I wanted to tell you that I truly understand and appreciated the feelings that you expressed in your post above. When the fall rolls around my family, friends and clients all understand that I can almost always be found on the weekends in Gainesville or some other football-crazed Southern town. Fortunately,however, I do not have to put my marriage of 47 years on hold, because I have infected my wife with the same incurable addiction that we share; she is as addicted to football in general, and the Gators in particular, as I am. In fact, the primary reason I am continuing to be a full-time lawyer is so I can afford to make the financial contributions necessary to be designated as a Bull Gator and for my wife, 2 kids, and 8 grandchildren to all enjoy better assigned parking places at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and better seat locations at the newly anointed "Steve Spurrier Field" a/k/a "The Swamp". To demonstrate how addicted my wife has become, once in the '70"s when I was so sick that I could not lift my head off the pillow, she showed me her love for me (and the Gators) by agreeing to drive straight back from Gainesville after the game without stopping to shop in her favorite shops in Micanopy. Another time when I had tickets for the Auburn/Florida game in 1983 or 84, where, if the Gators won they were going to be ranked No 1 in the country for the first time in my lifetime, I still made the ultimate sacrifice to stay in a tent in the woods with my young son for his first Indian Guides campout. In a show of solidarity for my parental sacrifice, my wife took the tickets and drove with my daughter to Auburn to witness a win by the Gators. They were thoughtful enough to bring me a football signed by Neal Young, John L. Brown, and most of the other stars of the day. I will close by expressing one difference of opinion. On September 24, I wish you good luck, but to quote a very polite, elderly Vandy fan I once crossed paths with in Nashville "I hope you lose".

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