The Tailgate

The sign said something like ‘follow the Home Depot and win a tailgate upgrade.”  Well, I could certainly use a tailgate upgrade so I’ll check it out.  Why do I need an upgrade?  It’s a long story, but basically because I have no tailgate.  Nothin.

Oh sure, I can wander around and visit a few places on game day, but its not like I have a place like you see on the TV commercials with lots of cheering fans and tents and food and drink to call my own.  Zippo.

Some of you might be asking, what’s a tailgate?  Simply put, it s the party you go to before the big football game.  If you don’t have a ticket to the game you stay there during the game.  And if you win you go there to celebrate after the game.  If you lose, you go there to drown your sorrows and dream of next week.

I’m not a big football fan, but I do love human spectacle. A football tailgate, and its surroundings, offers great spectacle.  There are cheering fans in their team colors.  Tents and grills everywhere.  Good food.  Friends.  Games, music, television.  And of course, beverages.  And did I mention?  Lots of people.  All kinds of people.  Great for watching!

This weekend was a big game.  I had tickets but let someone else use them.  There is something about being crowded into a stadium with a bazillion other people and having to jump up and down all the time that goes against my grain.  And my abilities.  So I went to the pre-game spectacle.  No tailgate of my own, I wandered, observing others.

Ate lunch in the campus conference center and saw the cheerleaders firing up that crowd.  Moved to where the television people had set up their shop and saw the masses that wanted to be on TV.   Waving signs like Hi Mom!  Our Team Rocks.  Their Teams Rots!  Maybe not those words exactly.  Even saw the TV stars close up.  But not the biggest star- Willy from Duck Dynasty.  He was whisked away in a limo with police escort I assume before I got close.

Continued down closer to the stadium and listened to the marching band.  Then stood close as the team arrived and walked the gauntlet of fans.  One giant of a man scared me with his wild-eyed look.  If I were the other team I’d just quit then and there.

Then it was time to go into the game so I moved off into the distance.  Watching people.  There were wildly dressed folk proudly displaying their teams colors.  And looking for attention.  There were happy people.  People still looking for a ticket, or selling a ticket.  One or two fingers in the air.  Crowds pushing in to see the crowd.  Other hanging back, enjoying the beautiful weather.  Classic fall football day.

It’s not all wonderful though.  After the game started and the crowds thinned out, as I headed back to my starting point, I saw the underbelly of the tailgate.  Such festivity creates a lot of trash, and it was everywhere.  Largely in trashcans, but they were dramatically overflowing.  And not in enough places. 

Then there were the people.  Some of who had had too much fun earlier and were now paying a price.  One young lady had passed out on a bench and being hauled off in an ambulance.  Too much to drink.  A young man was riding his bicycle in a very wobbly manner.  A cop nearby made him dismount and walk.  Others stumbled as they walked.  And others were held up by friends.

After the pre-game tailgate the light hearted fun ends.  Then it’s the game and I lose interest.  Until the aftermath.  The winners are happy and shouting as they return to their tailgates or cars.  The losers just want to get out of town.  Me, I win either way because I got to see the show.  But I could still use an upgraded vantage point.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?


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