It’s been a long time since I went to my first Georgia game. We tailgated on an actual tailgate on a station wagon. The rest of the food was on a card table.
The term came from the back of a station wagon. My friend’s dad ordered a new station wagon in Bulldog red. It was a Ford Country Squire and if you rode in the back, you faced backward. It was a nice way to go to a football game.
Tailgating is no longer a fitting name for a pregame event; it should be called the pregame buffet and bar. Somebody’s mama doesn’t put that together. The food is catered, and the beverage is flowing freely.
In the old days, the games started at 1 p.m. and the school controlled the TV coverage, if there was any.
Now, the cable networks call all the shots and tell the schools when they are going to be on TV.
The participants bring big pull-behind grills, big screen TVs and big tents emblazoned with the school logo.
If you want to go to a game and drink, that’s your business. Where it bothers me is when somebody gets sick and I get splashed. The only thing worse is when someone reeks of booze and food and gets right up in your face to blurt out, “Go Dawgs.”
I had a chance once to sit in a fancy box, where there was one guest who almost fell over the rail and into the fans below. The rest of these folks did polite tennis claps to show their approval.
I’ve reached the point that I don’t particularly care for all that stuff and can be quite content watching the game from the comfort of my chair. The price is good and the likelihood of bumping into someone who has had too much to drink is much less.
My mama was a teetotaler. She would not even say the name of alcoholic products. She was helping someone prepare the food for their tailgate and nearly died when she saw a cooler full of b-double-e-r. They also had packed some kind of liquor. That’s all she knew. She didn’t even touch the bottle.
Mama’s only experience with liquor was making her winter concoction of whiskey, honey and lemon juice. I am thankful that she never attempted to become a bartender. She was never able to perfect the mixture. It either tasted like something they gave cowboys to ease their pain in the movies or something so sweet or sour that you would have taken a swig of the hard stuff.
I remember the first time I saw those cans of b-double-e-r. This man was a deacon in our church. I was certain that the gates of hell were about to open wide.
Somehow, I think people lose sight that this gigantic party is taking place at a football game. That’s right, it is a football game. The other stuff, such as pimento cheese, sliced pound cake and that great fried chicken from some hole-in-the-wall place is the additional delight.
I not only want to watch the game. I want to remember it.
Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns publish weekly.