My home is Opelika

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Because of my time in the army and other changes in my life, I’ve lived in a lot of places. Those places include Louisiana, Oklahoma, Washington State, Germany, and Iraq, just to name a few. Heck, I briefly lived in Auburn, too, but there is only one place that I have ever and will ever call home, and that place is Opelika.
There aren’t too many people who cross paths with me who don’t get an earful about Opelika. Whether they retain it or not, I can’t help, but if nothing else, they quickly learn the correct pronunciation of the town which translates to “big swamp.” This was on full display this past week during my introduction at a show I had in Pennsylvania at Bloomsburg University. Bob, my new pal, had trouble pronouncing it, but my old army buddy Lucas, who I hadn’t seen in 20 years, knew it like the back of his hand.
In September of 2014, I had the incredible honor of being at the White House when President Obama awarded Opelika’s resident hero Command Sergeant Major (ret.) Bennie Adkins with the Congressional Medal of Honor. When mentioning Bennie’s home, the president briefly paused, then stated it perfectly. Later, Bennie said he coached the president up on the proper pronunciation. Good job, Sergeant Major Adkins.
But Opelika is so much more than just an odd sounding name that is difficult to pronounce by those not in the know. It’s a special place of faith, family, and friends that overflows with love—not that we don’t have our share of knuckleheads, but that’s a different story.
Just last week, the love I write about was on full display and it had never been sweeter. Months ago, my friends at O-Town Ice Cream in historic downtown Opelika named a flavor after me. It’s called Fulla Fudge Ripple, and it’s the tastiest treat on the menu. You must try it. One day last week, it was promoted on O-Town Ice Cream’s social media as being buy one scoop get one scoop free, so I had no choice but to go indulge. I also shared it on my social media.
When I got there, I talked to Chris, the husband half of O-Town Ice Cream, for a bit before placing my order. Before I my two scoops were scooped, my friend Mr. Temple walked in. We gave each other a quick hug and then caught up for a couple of minutes as most folks around here do. He then placed his order of pimento and cheese to go. Don’t be disgusted by that; it’s not a flavor of ice cream. It’s only the best pimento and cheese I’ve ever tasted.
As Mr. Temple pulled out his money to pay, he told Chris to add mine to his order. That was awful kind of him to do so, but Chris stated that mine was already paid for. Someone had seen my post on social media and called in and paid. Had I known that at the time, I would’ve ordered my own container of pimento and cheese to go. I kid, kind of.
I don’t know who was responsible for this random act of kindness, but I do appreciate it and promise to pay it forward.
I’m grateful for little gestures such as this, but they don’t surprise me anymore. Make no mistake about it, I don’t take them for granted; it’s just that I’ve seen kindness and generosity such as this over and over from the fine folks who call this place home.
I don’t know that I will live here for the rest of my life. Sometimes I see myself living in a cabin in the mountains, and other times I see myself in a condo at the beach. For all I know, I’ll be in a trailer in Tallassee, but no matter where I lay my head, my home, my only home, will always be in Opelika.
Jody Fuller is from Opelika. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.

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