On Day Two, God Created Tailgating

On day one, God created the heavens, the earth, light and darkness.

On day two, God created tailgating.

Well, that’s not strictly true.

However, after getting my first taste of this infamous and quintessential American pastime, I reckon God probably saw it as a priority by at least day four or five.

It may or may not shock you to find out in the UK, we have nothing that in even slightly resembles tailgating. In fact, if you are caught with a beer anywhere near a vehicle, it’s almost certain that you’ll get arrested for drink driving.

My only previous experience of seeing a tailgate ‘in action’ before coming to College Station was at Heinz Field, the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On the way to the stadium, you’d see hundreds of people standing around in parking lots drinking beer, eating copious amounts of food and freezing their bottoms off in the subzero temperatures.

Tailgating in Texas is a different story. The only cold things you’re likely to find are the elegantly cube-shaped blocks of ice that cuddle your unopened beers.

I had been lucky enough to be invited to the ‘Keep The Spirit Tailgate’ that is run by the Barnard, Dressler and Foster families.

As I walked over to the West Campus, I strolled through other tailgate parties. Judging by how drunk some people were already, I’d imagined that they had probably started as early as 6-7 in the morning.

What impressed me the most was seeing people set up. In some cases, it was like a full scale military operation. I watched as families carried pieces of furniture like coffee tables, dining room chairs and chandeliers (OK, perhaps the last one is made up). But it was remarkable. I had visions of the homes around College Station being completely empty because all the furniture that sits in their house six out of the other seven days of the week was here plonked outside Kyle Field.

I’d heard stories of how people go to football games and tailgate with RV’s the size of four bedroom houses. Likewise, I’d seen some BBQ grills at Reliant Stadium last week that were about eight times bigger than my kitchen back home. As you’d walk past tailgate after tailgate, these grills would just keep getting bigger and bigger. It was as if there was a competition between them all to prove their masculinity through the size of their BBQ. Which is fair enough. I’m the same with TV’s.

I apologize but it’s time to get soppy and emotional. After tailgating for only an hour or so, you quickly realize that this activity is so much more than just stuffing your face with as many chips as you humanly can, and drinking until you forget what direction the toilet is in.

It’s a great occasion that allows friends and families to get together, enjoy each other’s company and have a laugh. Oh, and do the above.

There was no better indication of this when about an hour and a half before the game kicked off, everyone in the tailgate got into a circle. The head of the Barnard family said some heartfelt words, thanked everyone for coming and then handed around a bucket that everyone in the circle had to drink out of.

What was in the bucket? I will probably never know. If I had to guess, a potent mixture of vodka and tears of Texas Longhorns fans.

Next to our tailgate, there was a done up school bus that had been dubbed ‘The 12th Van’. I love a good pun as much as the next person, so they had me at hello. I quickly noticed that they had Newcastle Brown Ale on draught. That’s an English beer. I was astounded. You’d do well to find that stuff at home (especially in the south), so to find a keg of it 5,000 miles sat in an old school bus took me by surprise.

The final thing that astounded me was how anyone actually plucks up the motivation after tailgating to actually go to the sporting event that everyone has congregated for.

I’d only experienced it once and the temptation to sit a comfy seat, watch the football on a screen outside, whilst continuing to indulge yourself was massive.

Eventually though, I hauled myself to the stadium. With beer in hand.

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