The quality pregame tailgate brings so much to the table - sun, booze, chow, grills, savory smells, pregame on radio, mobile satellite hook-up to the TV in the parking lot, prancing coeds, a football Saturday that also gets a check mark in the "took her on a date" or "spent quality time" column and coeds and booze. (Yes, they deserve to be mentioned twice. No, I didn't think you'd argue about this.)
So what's the downside, what can go wrong?
Well, you know exactly what can wrong. That guy or girl shows up. Sometimes you know who they are immediately and some other times they sneak up on you before you figure it out. But any one of these donkey punchers can bring the fun temporarily to a screeching halt at best or just give the day pancreatic cancer at worst. Avoid introspection while reading down this list - we've all played at least one of these parts over the years in weaker, alcohol-softened moments. Yes, even you.
Let's meet these tools in descending order, shall we?:
15) The Drink Spiller - Three vodka lemonades and this person becomes a menace when wielding any beverage but a sippy cup. Their great stories require grand gestures for emphasis. When the couples argument breaks out, accusatory finger wagging must be done cup in hand. Beer bottles only cause cigar-sized beer missiles to be fired at your hoodie. Beer cans are better, but the Spiller can still find a way to splash you while sending beer down their own arm. The red plastic cup is simply out of the question if more than half the drink is to end up actually being, well...drank. 12 ounces of Captain & Coke tossed on your leg always darkens the game day experience for awhile.
14) Bobby Flay - Yes, I am extremely grateful that you stepped up to the plate and assumed the grilling duties, you are one of the most essential elements to a successful tailgate. However - and I may be a complete bastard about this - I don't think that entitles you to describe to me, unasked, the in-depth marinade, spice & rub details complete with a list of ingredients and cooking times. Trust me, I'll come to you if I want the recipe.
13) The Crowd Farter - Pretty self-explanatory. It would seem to be a fairly obvious no-no to most, but there's still an aromatic minority out there flatulating away in close company under the tent. They seem to think that if they're outdoors, expelled gaseous vapor is simply eliminated as if there is some force of nature beaming the stench away like Scotty. Once again, guys - THERE ISN'T!!!!!
12) Ultra-Competitive Guy -Regardless of the tailgating game, (beer-chugging to beanbag-tossing to predict the score of the upcoming game) he has to be better than you at it and if he's not, then he will have a horrible attitude and take it out on you, your wife, your kids, or whoever you are with for the rest of the day.
11) There Is No Possible Way We Will Lose Guy -"GET OUT OF MY TAILGATE if you have even a SHRED of doubt that we will win. We are here to party and celebrate before the game, if you seem the least bit nervous, then I am going to taunt the hell out of you. Even if you think the score will be close, I will glare at you with disgust."
10) The Weekly Sponger - Nothing really funny about this one, unfortunately. This guy is the proverbial turd in the punch bowl that always manages to take the enjoyment factor down by one. Why? He shows up every week. And brings nothing. Nothing at all. Even the guy who just brings 4 beers for himself and dives into the food ranks higher. Everyone seethes as soon as he shows up, but no one wants to call him out on it. Just a downer.
("Hey! You guys gonna be at the same spot Saturday??" "Ummm, (defeated) yeah.")
9) Meticulous Pre-Game Prep Guy - "We will be at the tailgate AT LEAST 5 hours before kickoff. We are to be within 100 feet of the closest porta potty. Get that hot dog away from me, I only eat 3 hours before kickoff, no sooner, no later. I will not play tailgating games before I have consumed 6 beverages. I will not go to the porta-potty line unless I am carrying 2 full beers. We will all leave the lot and head to the stadium until exactly 40 minutes prior to kickoff."
8) The Uninvited Regular Who Doesn't Know Anyone - A distant relative of the Weekly Sponger, the Uninvited Regular is generally good about bringing some food or supplies with him. The issue is how he came to be there in the 1st place. Simple - an acquaintance stopped by your tailgate one Saturday a few years with the future UR in tow. Introductions were made, beer shared and everyone said bye-bye. Next week, the Univited Regular was back again. By himself. And the next week. And every home game since for three years despite not actually knowing anyone there. What he brings to the table is creepiness. This has no place in the tailgating collective mindset.
(Once again, the act of simply being too nice creates this monster.)
7) Scouting Report on the Opponent Guy -"Don't give me that bs about how you're not sure if we will be able to stop the run. I am FULLY aware what our rush D ranks vs what their Rush O ranks. I know who their LG is and I know that our NT outweighs him by 15 pounds and will have leverage needed to collapse the pocket. I know the other team's 3rd down tendencies and I know the score of every mutual opponent we've played this year. DO NOT dispute me, I am right and you are wrong."
6) The Guy Who Wants You To Walk To The Bathroom With Him - Honestly, dude.
5) The Food Handling Bush Pisser -If you're the type that sees the germs on every door handle, lawn chair or cooler, then tailgating's just not for you, grab the game day cable package instead. And it's implicitly understood that everyone has to dart behind that bush or tree to do their business sooner or later during the day. We understand this. But do NOT return from that trip and stick your hand in the chip bag or the nut bowl. Not ever. And if you're Bobby Flay and try to start grilling/cooking without washing your hands? Well, I'm sorry, but you are going down, end of story.
4) The Complete Dick With The Smoking Hot Girlfriend - First off, the Complete Dick should never be part of your regular crowd. If he is, just suck it up and find a new crowd. Yes, it could take a year or three, but you'll be happier in the long run.
The Complete Dick by himself is bad enough. Overly loud by beer #5. Countless stories of high school athletic prowess. Loud cell phone conversations in the middle of everyone. Let's it be known that he is a complete bad ass. We've all met him and loathe him. But since it's a tailgate, he is naturally accompanied by the eye-popping babe. And worse yet, she's every bit as nice as he is a jerk, standing by her man and giving everyone that apologetic smile as CD continues behaving like an ass. And guess what? He's still leaving with her.
The damage to your tailgate is catastrophic. The guys all despise him for his behavior & luck, and the women hate him AND you since you're staring drunkenly at his girlfriend trying to figure out how to take her away from all that. Ugh, very bad times.
3) Joe Montana - This guy might have been playing for the Huskers himself if his coach hadn't been an ignorant hater. He's the one in the parking lot with a football asking who wants to play catch. He's sporting the Air Jordans, Keithen McCants starter jersey, jorts and possibly a porn stache. Even though he's throwing to one person, he's looking the defender off. At least three errant throws are drilling the food tables or coolers. He'll burn one into the gut of a 9 year old and apologize to the crying child by announcing that he always had trouble controlling his velocity. Bang him in the back of the skull with a shovel and everyone will look the other way.
2) Pound Like a Viking Because You Can't Drink Inside The Stadium Guy -Packs an entire weekend worth of drinking into 6 hours of tailgating. Chugs 4 Whiskey Sours while your friends are packing shit up because goddamn it, he refuses to be sobered up by halftime. If you tell him to slow down his drinking, YOU WILL REGRET IT. The quality of our opponent determines the velocity of his alcohol intake-NOT YOU, SO SHUT YOUR HOLE. When you all are walking to the stadium, you better keep a hold of his sleeve or he will get lost in the crowd. And be prepared to apologize profusely to the fans around you for his belligerence because he sure as hell won't give a rip. He's been taken out of the stadium in handcuffs before, and he will have to be escorted out again if you don't keep an eye on him at all times.
1) The Football Hating Wife/Girlfriend -
(Disclaimer!! I am well aware that Tailgate Nation is chock full o' outstanding female fans like those of you who will read this and google me for the simple purpose of finding out where I live and killing me in cold blood. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU! (Especially you, Verleen, you outrank most if not all the guys) And more importantly, you know who I'm talking about - we've seen the pity in your eyes for the dudes when confronted with this creature. She's a mood killer and you hate her, too.)
The biggest enemy of the tailgate, bar none. It wasn't intentional, you just thought you'd score some brownie points by bringing that significant other to one tailgate, so she could see what all the fuss was about. You ignored the obvious things - like the fact that she carps at you 5 times a day when you're in front of the TV on a football Saturday. She has never shown anything short of loathing for the game and you're bringing her to the party. Hmmmm
She acted excited all week, but on the drive down, the beast begins to shed its skin. This jewel may emerge - "We're not staying for the WHOLE game, are we?" Or maybe something along the lines of "You're not going to drink are you? Because I'm NOT driving home."
The tailgate is simply a joy. She won't talk to anyone but you and that's to complain about it being too hot or to cold, do you REALLY enjoy doing this, etc. If you talk to others, she'll attempt to wither you under her glare and if you don't come running back quickly, the drinking will begin in earnest on her part. It won't help. And the Lord himself won't save you if you're stupid enough to talk to any mildly attractive member of the opposite sex. "Don't think I didn't see THAT," she'll hiss on your return. The fact that it's a friend's wife won't matter. You'll be in a constant slumped posture by kickoff. And you will be leaving before the game's over mumbling nonsense about one of you not feeling well. Or if she she started pounding mixers as per above, it won't be nonsense. Either way, she has a headache now. Enjoy the drive home.
And try not to waste another fall before getting after the break-up/divorce.
(Special thanks to Justin O. for his contributions. They won't be the last.)