Be a Real Southern Man #13 – Deploy Your Tailgate

Welcome to your virtual manual for becoming a Real Southern Man.

Today’s how-to tip is ideally suited to this time of year. And by this time of year, I of course mean football season. Is there any other season so universally recognized as a cause for celebration by young and old, black and white, male and female, religious and scoffer than football season? I dare say not.

So don your school colors and limber up your swizzle finger.

This week, we think you should…

Throw the mother of all tailgate parties.

When it’s time for some “futbaw,” there’s no better way to commemorate the South’s great religion than with a tailgate party. Now, back when this particular RSM was a student at The Capstone (THE University of Alabama, for the uninitiated), there weren’t too many folks doing tailgate parties … at least not the way they’re done today. A few choice parking lots were set aside for the RV crowd. Others were for folks who would stick to the traditional definition of a tailgate party by setting up right there on the tailgate of their pick-up trucks. We students would stroll the Quad in the pre-game hours and stare quizzically at anyone even daring to have a picnic on the lawn.

In the early 2000s, however, something strange happened in Tuscaloosa: the football got really bad. For a culture believing that national championships are a birthright, the cycle of losing season–mediocre season–10-win season was too much to bear. We had to find some way to channel our repressed fandom. So we started to tailgate.

Our little group started at a house somewhere off campus where we would routinely park for the games, then we migrated to RVs that belonged to friends of friends. Finally, we joined the few dozen parties who were setting up tents on the Quad. And we loved it. Eventually, we expanded to have 2 10×20 tents, several additional 10×10 tents, 3 or more TVs – each tuned to a different game – 40+ wandering guests in and out of the tents and oh, so much food.

As our parties grew, so did the overall tailgate atmosphere on the Quad. A few dozen parties became several hundred. Then the University hired some guy named Saban to coach the team, and everything went crazy. Bigger stadium. More people. Bigger parties. More people. More wins. More drunken people. And more rules about where, how and when you could park and move your tailgate gear to the Quad. We were victims of our own success.

Eventually, the wife and I gave it up. Her father had always been our football companion. As his health began to fail and he eventually died, so did a bit of our tailgating spirit. Then our main tailgating partners-in-crime divorced. Everyone else dispersed. The party was over.  But we had a good run for several years there.

So, if you want some memories that last a lifetime … if they make it intact to the next morning, go to the Quad or the Grove or wherever the hot tailgating spot is on your campus. Throw a tent up, unfold a table and some chairs, add chips, salsa and beverages and swizzle it all together into a cocktail of pure fun. It’s futbaw season, y’all!

3 Responses to “Be a Real Southern Man #13 – Deploy Your Tailgate”

  1. Nice piece! I think you and I have similar blogs. I was at Ole Miss during the 90’s and “came of age” in the Grove, back when we weren’t a total joke.

    Tailgating in the South is like Saturday church. You wear your sunday best, worship in a “megachurch/cathedral”, imbibe of communion bourbon, get a bit charismatic, do a lot of praying, and eat some good fried chicken afterward.

    • Thanks! We’ve been a bit remiss on our posting over the last few weeks. There are a number of us who contribute, but only a couple who do the lion’s share. Even then, it’s tough to keep up. I’ll check out your blog soon! (And sorry about the outcome of the BYU game.)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The 10-Step Program of Real Southerness | Real Southern Men - January 31, 2012

    [...] football matters here. Sure, we go for the victories, but we also go for the pageantry, the sense of community, the traditions and the rituals. It is, in ways so many other writers have explored over the years, [...]

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