In an earlier article, I stated that I can wait for college football season to start. That was mainly talking about football and clinging to LSU’s success of last year.
However, as we find ourselves in mid-August, I find the itch returning (and not the one I use a topical cream for). While I could still stave off the football thirst a little while longer, the urge to tailgate has just become too great.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am a shameless tailgater—and I’m not afraid to admit it.
When I say I’m a tailgater, I’m not one of these guys who shows up two hours before kickoff, drinks your beer, eats your food, and leaves.
I’m the guy with the tailgate spot. I’ve been in the same place since 1995. I’m one of the stops you make on the way to the game.
My team is LSU. We have 7:00 pm kickoffs. On game days our stadium holds 92,000-plus, but our campus welcomes 125,000. Why?
Tailgating, that’s why.
I get up when the sun starts thinking about whether it’ll go in to work that day. I’m out at our tailgate spot when the mosquitoes haven’t called it a night yet. On a good day, we’ll get in 12 hours.
I live in Southern Louisiana. Many men have their hobbies down here.
I don’t fish, I never hunt, and I haven’t picked up a golf club in years.
I’m out of pocket for seven weekends a year. If you need me, you’ll have to come to Tower Drive in front of Coates Hall on the campus of Louisiana State University. That’s where I’ll be for every LSU home game, rain or shine.
I’ve missed one tailgate in 10 years, and that was my mother-in-law’s wedding. I still showed up just in time for kickoff.
Making a party happen is hard work. Sometimes you sacrifice your own fun for others. Honestly, it’s worth every single second.
But don’t worry, I still have my fun. I just want people to come away and remember our party and how much fun they had—or I want them to have the best time they can’t remember.
I can’t do it by myself. I have friends just as dedicated as I am. Without them, I’d have to scale it back a bit.
We have our fun, but we’re all doing this on budgets. I don’t have an RV. Those guys are even more serious (and more well-funded) than me. At what job do you get Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off work seven times a year? And are they hiring?
No, I’m not rich. I don’t rock plasma screens or have a grill the size of a semi. I don’t have a souped-up bus, station wagon, or hearse drowning in my school colors. But the days of a few people, the single ice chest, and mini-grill are a distant memory as well.
My tailgating crew (or krewe for you Louisianians) is called the “Tower Drive Tigerfanz,” or “TDT” for short. Our motto is, “We’re not the biggest, we’re not the best, but I assure you, we’re well above average.”
That’s pretty much the best way to describe us. We know our place in the universe but still aspire to greatness.
We work and prepare for this. A buddy and I put as much effort into selecting our song set list for a day of tailgating as some NFL teams put into the draft (I’m looking at you, Redskins).
We don’t have any gourmet chefs, but we always have good food. We don’t know anyone famous, but we’re in a great place to be seen. We’re not the most off-the-hook throwdown you’ll find, but we’re a fun place to pass a good time.
We do some themes every year. The annual luau is our oldest continued theme, which we do every year. We put on an “Oktoberfest” and “Around the World” tailgate, both of which center around our second love after football: beer.
Our “Around the World” tailgate has grown exponentially in the last few years. Our neighbors always seem to join us for that one. We assign each person a country from which they bring a 12-pack of beer.
At some point during the day we have an organized group “tasting” where we down 35-40 shots of beer from everywhere imaginable, all the while proposing toasts to honor the country of origin or to pay tribute to our Tigers.
And there was much rejoicing.
Also, the girls in our krewe take over one game a year for their own little “operation,” which they keep secret from the guys until gameday.
The last two girls' tailgates were “Operation Pink Out” (think Ole Miss girly tailgating, chandeliers, silverware, etc.) and last season’s “Operation Bling Out” (think Ghetto Fabulous). I think the girls have a redneck mock-fest in store for ’08 called “Operation Git ’Er Done.”
One of the great features of this site is the ability to have interaction with fans from around the country and even beyond. So really, my intention is for this to be an interactive article.
I’d love to hear responses about what you do at your games: the food, the activities and festivities, the rituals, your set up, what you call yourselves, etc.
I know there are other people reading this that, like me, love to tailgate. I know there are people reading this who have bells and whistles that would put my show to shame. Others do it modestly and still have a rocking time. I’d love to hear what you do that’s special to you and unique to your area.
Before every game there must be a party. Tell me about yours.