27 September, 2006

Tailgate Entertaining by Southern Standards

I am fortunate enough to have attended a big SEC college. Trust me when I tell you, this is truly and experience like no other. And in the south, the most important and highly anticipated event for our colleges in the SEC, is college game day. And what defines our college game days at our colleges and makes them like no other game days in the country, is our tailgating. You see, tailgating in the south isn’t just a mere tradition. Oh no, no, no, my friends. It isn’t something we do to pass time before the game begins (you see the game is actually quite often the afterthought). It’s a gift that we pass down from one generation to another. Its social fanfare at it’s finest. It’s the epitome of southern hospitality showcased by good graces, good manners, good southern bar-b-que, and greeting strangers not with a “hello!” but with your school’s battle cry. I mean, don’t dare approach Mr. Monogram or I on a game day with a “Hi there!” as you’re going to receive back a “War Eagle” instead from us. Just like the UGA fans shout out “Go Dawgs” or the Alabama fans shake hands with a firm “Roll Tide” as a prelude to catching up on the latest news. This is just the way it is, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In college, game days meant getting dressed up in Sunday dress in hose and high heels (or at the very least, a cute little stacked loafer and a pair of tights and skirt, and I mean at the very least), and always wearing your sorority pin. Lord help the girl who went to the game on the arm of her date without her pin, I tell you! And as for the boys, well they always wore their standard uniform of khaki pants, loafers, a white button down, a tie with our school colors, and of course, fraternity pin as well. Although as I side note, I must mention that under these cute outfits, double –bagged zip lock bags of our faithful friend, Mr. Jim Beam, was always tucked and hidden somewhere in our undergarments (I recommend the bra, honestly). And yes, as briefly mentioned, you always go with a date, who will pick you up at your dorm at 9am to start tailgating for a 1pm game. I know many of you are sitting there thinking this is ridiculous and that this can not possibly still happen. But it does! And if you don’t believe me then I encourage you to turn on the next ESPN game day at an SEC school and look real closely and take good notes as the camera spans the crowd. You see this isn’t the way it used to be; this is the way it STILL is and always will be. Southern tradition at it’s finest.

So for those of you who went to one of our fine southern institutions, you are likely shaking your head with a smile on your face, re-living your own fond memories of dressing up for football games and waiting with giddy anticipation for your date to come pick you up, and of course, wondering what you’ll wear to the band party later. But for those of you who are reading this as if I’m speaking some foreign language, you might still be wondering what in the world makes our tailgating so spectacular. Well, where do I even begin?

First of all, what other colleges consider early tailgating (Friday or even Thursday), at my Alma Mater (Auburn University) and a few of the other big SEC colleges (i.e. Georgia, Alabama, LSU), it starts at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday before the game, when the massive caravan of RV's pull into our quiet little town on the plains (by massive I literally mean hundreds). And I’m not just talking your every day, run of the mill RV’s either. I am talking million dollar, fully outfitted, top dollar luxury RV’s that most of these people own SOLELY for tailgating and entertaining purposes. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the professional grade big black bar-b-que pits that many of them tote behind them as well. Because, you see, tailgating is an open door policy of booze and food and football and music. The food, if not authentic southern bar-b-que with all the fixings (or “finxin’s” as you will often hear it pronounced), is also often times catered. Sort of a come one, come all! But really I’m getting off the subject as I have heard from a few of you from various parts of the country who want some suggestions on jazzing up your own tailgating.
Now, if you don’t happen to have a million dollar RV at your disposal, then you will no doubt be either walking around, drink in hand to enjoy everyone else’s’ Southern Hospitality, or you will be throwing a bit of your own tailgating party right at home. And while I do not throw a football party with football shaped bowls and dishes and banners, I tend to use the colors as my theme. Or, pick a meal to be my theme. For instance, when Mr. Monogram and I were planning our Fall tailgating party (which we’ve since had to cancel due to scheduling conflicts), my theme was Ears & Beers, Chili & Cheer.
The invitations were very simple with my theme stated as shown in a really cool font and work layout, then followed by all the pertinent information such as time, date, location, etc.. Now, just for fun, at the bottom of my invitation it had read, Attire: Traditional Preppy Southern Sorority/Fraternity Game Day attire Requested, Greek pin optional! Cute, right? Mr. Monogram and I were going to break out our fraternity and sorority pins to wear with our cute little preppy college game day attire, and we were going to do a huge projection screen in the back yard and project the game from a projector. The lawn would be covered in quilts, scattered with pillows and chairs and even some large hay bales for sitting on, and the back deck would be set up for our plentiful buffet. The buffet would consist of mounds of corn of the cob, a half dozen different types and flavor of butter for the corn, and we would have our huge deep turkey fryer filled to the brim, cooking my chili over the burner. All the chili fixings (er, sorry, I mean finxin’s) and side dishes would also be laid out on the table in pretty bowls and different height levels, on top of quilts or table linens to match my team’s colors.

Now, if you are tailgating on campus, then these same entertaining ideas can still apply and it will be a tremendous treat for your tailgating companions and guests. You can even go to Kinko’s and have a banner made for your tailgate location with your party theme on it, to tie in with your invitations. Go to your local fabric store and pick up cute patterns and plaids and solids in your school colors and drape your tables with them to create interest. Whether you tailgate on campus or tailgate in the back yard or front porch, it shouldn’t mean skimping on your entertaining. There is no skimping at monogram mommas! It’s Fall! And what have we started talking about? Pumpkins! That’s right! So incorporate your pumpkins into your fall tailgating. Make a topiary like I showed on Tuesday, but use florals with your school colors instead of fall colors, and try putting your school logo on the top topiary pumpkin, and there’s your centerpiece. Again, instead of monogramming your pumpkins, incorporate your school spirit and school colors into them and onto your tailgating tables. Heck you can even cut off the top of a few synthetic pumpkins and drop a clear or white bowl into them (to make it look super cute, use different size pumpkins so it will also appear like you have different heights on your table) and they instantly become cute and decorative dishes to hold dips and side dishes.

Now, let’s talk about drinks. Now you know I insist on using your monogrammed galvanized drink tub, or even doing another one still with your monogram, but with your school colors. Naturally, beer is a staple for every tailgater, but that means a koozie is too. So bring along or have on hand cute colorful kozzies so your guests can cover up those unsightly beer bottles which you can literally pick up at your local craft store for about 50 cents each in an array of solid colors, and then I would also have some plastic stadium cups printed up with my theme and date on them. I like these from Shindigz and they have a great price too that you can’t beat. Of course, these cups are most helpful for mixed drinks, which in the South, this means two ingredients: Jim Beam and Coke. This is like our game day fuel and is a strict requirement along with the music selection of the Allman Brothers and Lynard Skynard.

As a final parting note, I leave you with these final parting words, sent to me in a timely email that does a good job of summing up College Football and Tailgating in the South. So grab your beam and coke, give it a good stir, and for those of you who are planning a football trip South, here are a few helpful hints that were sent to me, and do a good job summing up our fine tradition and staple of SEC Football.

NORTH: Raw meat on a grill, beer with lime in it, listening to local radio station with truck tailga! ! te down.
SOUTH: 30-foot custom pig-shaped smoker fires up at dawn. Cooking accompanied by live performance
by "Dave Matthews' Band," who comes over during breaks and ask for a hit off bottle of bourbon.

Women's Accessories:
NORTH: Chap Stick in back pocket and a $20 bill in the front pocket.
SOUTH: Louis Vuitton duffel with two lipsticks, waterproof mascara, and a fifth of bourbon.
Money not necessary -! ! that's what dates are for.

Stadium Size:
NORTH: College football stadiums hold 20,000 people.
SOUTH: High school football stadiums hold 20,000 people.

NORTH: Expect their daughters to understand Sylvia Plath.
SOUTH: Expect their daughters to understand pass interference.

Campus Decor:
NORTH: Statues of founding fathers.
SOUTH: Statues of Heisman trophy winners.

Homecoming Queen:
NORTH: Also a physics major.
SOUTH: Also Miss America .

NORTH: Rudy Giuliani
SOUTH: Archie & Peyton & Eli Manning

Getting Tickets:
NORTH: 5 days before the game you walk into the ticket office on campus.
SOUTH: 5 months before the game you walk into the ticket office on campus, make a
large financial contr ibution and put name on awaiting list for tickets.

Friday Classes After a Thursday Night Game:
NORTH: Students and teachers not sure they're going to the game, because
they have classes on Friday.
SOUTH: Teachers cancel Friday classes because they don't want to see the
few hung over students that might actually make it to class.

NORTH: An hour before game time, the University opens the campus for game parking.
SOUTH: RVs sporting their school flags begin arriving on Wednesday for the weekend
festivities. The really faithful arrive on Tuesday.

Game Day:
NORTH: A few students party in the dorm and watch ESPN on TV.
SOUTH: Every student wakes up, has a beer for breakfast, and Rushes over
to where ESPN is broadcasting "Game Day Live" to get on camera and wave to
the idiots up north who wonder why "Game Day Live" is never Broadcast from their campus.

Getting to the Stadium:
NORTH: You ask "Where's the stadium?" When you find it, you walk right in.
SOUTH: When you're near it, you'll hear it. On game day it becomes the state's third largest city.

NORTH: Drinks served in a paper cup, filled to the top with soda.
SOUTH: Drinks served in a plastic cup, with the home team's mascot on
it, filled less than half way with soda, to ensure enough room for bourbon.

When National Anthem is Played:
NORTH : Stands are less than half full, and less than half of them stand up.
SOUTH: 100,000 fans, all standing, sing along in perfect four-part harmony.

The Smell in the Air After the First Score:
NORTH: Nothing changes.
SOUTH: Fireworks, with a touch of bourbon.

Commentary (Male):
NORTH: "Nice play."
SOUTH: "Dammit, you slow sumbitch - tackle him and break his legs."

Commentary (Female):
NORTH: "My, this certainly is a violent sport."
SOUTH: "Dammit, you slow sumbitch - tackle him and break his legs."

NORTH: Neutral and paid.
SOUTH: Announcer harmonizes with the crowd in the fight song, with a tear in his eye because he is so proud of his team.

After the Game:
NORTH: The stadium is empty way before the game ends.
SOUTH: Another rack of ribs goes on the smoker, while somebody goes to the nearest package store for more bourbon, and planning begins for next week's game.


Susan said...

Oh my gosh, MM, I am DYING laughing at the whole southern football memory - what a hoot! I moved to Birmingham for a couple of years after college (where I learned there were Yankees and then there were Damn Yankees, who were northerners like me who moved down south) and quickly learned that, "Well, who do you like, Alabama or Auburn" was a highly loaded question! (And it was always asked after the statement, "Tell us about your family".) To my embarrassment,I learned very quickly about just how dressed up one must be to attend these games - even if it is 95' with 95% humidity. Your tailgate parties, I must say, sound divine!

Chloe said...

So so so so true!!! I've only been in the south a little while, but I can sure see everything you mentioned!

Anonymous said...

Go Gamecocks! (Couldn't resist. We have a Thrusday night game AGAINST Auburn)

cel said...

oh my word-LOL! I'll be stirring my jb and coke with my Bama shaker!!! RRRRRRRRRRRRRROOOOOLLLLLL Tide roll! oh and I do enjy a spread in silver or pewter serving dishes as well! dh went to WVU and we are going up and hosts are grilling hot dogs or ordering in pizzas-lol! it will be fun and very different!

STL Sarah said...

I love this post! I went to Mizzou, a Big 12 school, and while we're not quite as elaborate in our tailgates as the SEC, we still do a pretty good job, I think! And we definitely dress up for football games... Most people don't understand this. And I just have to ask what house you were in! I was a KD and loved it.

SLC said...

Sounds like a blast!! LOL!

The EMG said...

MM.... You forgot us girls who wore our sorority pin and our beau's fraternity pin. Ahhh diet coke and Capitan Morgans will always bring be right back to Lane Stadium... GO HOKIES!!!
~The EMG

PS... I say WAR EAGLE. *Hubbies Best Friend went to Auburn.. good times, good times*

Emily said...

MM, curious what sorority you are in & what is Mr. Monogram?

P.S. ROLL TIDE! Even if Auburn will probably beat us again for the 5th years in a row this year!

Erin said...

What a hoot! I went to a Big 10 school, and tailgating was never quite like that! We had football block with fraternities, but sadly more people were dressed in sweats with greek letters across the rear end than cute skirts. Thanks for sharing your traditions!

suburban prep said...

Having gone to Notre Dame games all my life I can see aspects of the North and the South at this school and the tailgaters

Alyson said...

OK.....I have to say it "Go Vols!!"
Great post!!!!!!! I am not much into the game, but I LOVE to tailgate!

Monogram Momma said...

WOOOOHOOOOOOO! It seems we are all feeling the spirit of SEC football so i will have a beam & coke with you all in mind next weekend when Mr. Monogram and I go back to Auburn for a game.

Susan: I certainly hope you sided with us Tigers during your stint in B'ham!

Anon: We are currently dragging your tailfeathers down the field and it's only halftime! WAR EAGLE!
Cel & Emily: ANd here I had such high hopes for you guys! I am so sorry to hear you are Bama fans!


Anonymous said...

I just have one thing to say:
I have grown up in Knoxville in sight of Neyland standium.
110,007 seats, take that Michigan!

Tammy B said...

MM: I graduated from Auburn as well. War Eagle! I'm watching the game as I am typing. (AU 24, SC 10) In my day, it was rum and tab (how lame) We also dressed in our finest. I always heard that those folks from the schools further south dressed in shorts and t-shirts - I was appalled.

emma's pulse said...

Love it! I was a KD at UT-Austin, and can relate to every word you wrote. Wish I had been at your party!

spymum said...

That was brilliant - I laughed out loud at the Commentary (Male and Female)!! As a Brit, this sport was a mystery to me, but now I realise it's not a sport at all; it's a religion!

Ad thanks for the booze in the bra tip; I may have to try that at the rugby this weekend! ;-)

Lisagh said...

Sumbitch - LOVE it!!!!

And I must add, when you say North, I know I'm not even in those ranks... I am Way North and it's great to read of such awesome tradition.

Amy G. said...

WAR EAGLE!!!! From a fellow AU'er--NOBODY tailgates like a Tiger.

Wanna know what's sad? I'm in the NC Triangle area now, and NC State has declared it unlawful to tailgate more than 3 hours before kickoff. I can't even imagine what they're thinking, except for that the ACC has no idea. No idea. SEC rules football!

This was a seriously fantastic post!

Monogram Momma said...

WAR EAGLE Tammy & Amy B! mr. monogram & i are headed to Auburn for the Arkansas gane next weekend and I CAN NOT WAIT. Still very muc undecided as what to wear and it's really troubling me. Oh well, I'll figure it out!

And yeah, the Fl schools all dress in t-shirts and shorts b/c they aren't *tuly* part of the South so they tend to fall under the "northern school" or ACC category for football game dress code.

Anonymous said...

You have to read "rammer jammer yellow hammer" which is all about those people with the rv's who follow the alabama team all season. Great book!

Dina said...

I went to a Fla school and as much as I love the idea of "dressing-up" for games, the reason we don't do it is because it's usually HOT! Noon games can get up to 100 degrees and don't get me started on the humidity....My main concern before a game was what would show the least sweat. Sad, but true.

Anonymous said...

I do have to say though, mm, that the dress code has definitly changed. My friends (including my panhellenic gals) are hard core about wearing Orange Country tee's or wifebeaters with super tiny shorts. I don't think I've ever seen anyone dressed up that's my age.

Anonymous said...

MM - I think you may be a bit too hard on the North. Ohio State games?

tate said...

everytime i read a post like that i am thankful i am from Pennsylvania.

Anonymous said...

meaning what, tate?

parrish said...

MM - missed out on your post for a few weeks but LOVE this one. Brought tears to my eyes as I reminisce of the "Glory Days" at AU. You failed to mention that most likely, our dates would duct tape the baggies to us since a southern gentleman would never "pat down" a lady. I sure miss freshman year in the Quad waking up to tailgaters. And those band parties ~ whew! Thanks for bringing back the memories ~ miss you & fellow sisters.

Monogram Momma said...


I TOTALLY forgot about the duct tape! LOL!

And you are SO RIGHT about waking up freshman year in the quad to tailgaters on gameday morning. Good times, good Times.

I'm so homesick for Auburn that we are going back this weekend for the Auburn /Arkansas game. I SOOOOOOOO miss you and all our fellow sisters and crazy silly stunts too!

In the flame,

P.S. Think we're too old to crash a band party at Mr. Monograms fraternity house?

Zeus said...

Great post!!!!! Apparently I am not the only one who loved it. I love tailgating but I don't know if I have ever experienced anything to this level. I particularly liked the part about greeting people with the battle cry.

Broady said...

AWESOME POST-- so true!!!

We're getting ready for the GA/FL game down here, where we've had our tailgates catered for the past 2 years. Jim Beam will always remind me of 2 things: my grandaddy and SEC football.

Belle-ah said...

LOVE it! It is truly a Southern Experience to behold. When I lived in NY I got invited to a BBQ...I was thrilled! You see it had beena while since I had feasted on BBQ and to say I had missed it was understatemnt! When I arrived I was handed a hotdog on a paper plate...OMG...they think BBQ is a verb. Bless their hearts!!!!