Tailgating is not a restaurant, therefore this is not a review. Instead, this is a true account of a great American tradition.
A tailgate party is a social event held on and around the open tailgate of a vehicle. Tailgating often involves consuming alcoholic beverages and grilling food. Tailgate parties usually occur in the parking lots at stadiums and arenas before, and occasionally after or during, sporting events and rock concerts. People attending such a party are said to be tailgating.
I attended the University of Charleston back in the day when they didn’t have a football team, much less partying at the professional level like those who attended WVU. I proudly toted my black olive tapenade and marinated shrimp in a Longaberger basket to my very first WVU tailgate with Ron. Boy have I learned a lot since then…
Another lesson learned early on: if you must bring liquor, bring a finite, reasonable amount. Not the entire bottle! Over the past few years I have enjoyed wine, mimosas, plenty of Michelob Ultra, hot-buttered rum (which froze instantaneously in the thermos lid at the 5 degree Thanksgiving Pitt game) and bellinis at the very early tailgate before the Marshall game last year.
For food, we usually partake of wings and chips. We had a super taco bar at a game last year and I hope to repeat that this season sometime. We always have extra, so if you are near the Friend’s Motel, come by to say hello.
True to definition, our first tailgate party of this season involved different varieties of beer, grilled brats and hot dogs, deep-fried wings and rings and a crowd favorite: jell-o shooters. Our location: a grass-covered parking lot cleverly disguised as a yard until game day rolls around. Our tailgates always begin no later than 4 hours prior to kickoff and can resume following an exciting win – better to tailgate than to sit in traffic, right?
We arrived on time around 11:00 Saturday morning. There was a frat party already underway in a grassy lot next to us complete with kegs and their own blue port-a-potty. Ron began setting up with our friend, Wing Man. I will call him that because his specialty is….wings, of course! Wing Man and his sous chef opened the plastic storage totes which were carefully arranged inside the back of Wing Man’s SUV and put together the turkey fryer, filling it with oil and arranging their wing prep area. They have an aluminum roasting pan lined with paper towels to drain the wings in and then they are transferred to several plastic containers where the sauce is added, lids snapped tight, and finally the wings are shaken, not stirred, to perfection.
It is obvious these guys are seasoned tailgating veterans. Oh, yeah…and they are engineers. They take the slide rules out of their pocket protectors to measure the precise distance between the turkey fryer and the nearest combustible materials to maintain safety. While perfroming these calculations there are 5 or 6 other engineers standing around “inspecting”, including Ron.
Ron placed the folding table in service and prepared his camping grill for brat action. I began unloading all the grocery items out of the back of the Explorer and opened our first two beers of the 2008 WVU football season.
Several of the students from the frat party approached us to ask if they could put their trash in our giant lawn & leaf black garbage bag which Wing Man had tied to the fence post during the carefully orchestrated dance that is his usual set-up. Apparantly only grown-ups think about the refuse created at these extravaganzas. Of course we allowed it, thinking that would entitle us to use their port-a-potty which was much closer than the one we usually have to walk to near the “pit”.
About an hour and a half into the tailgate, it was time to pull out the jell-o shooters. Always concerned about my diet and nutrition, the gold shooters were sugar-free. I think people appreciated it. We went through several brats and hot dogs, chips, and countless wings dressed in Frank’s Red Hot, the hot sauce Wing Man swears by. There was also a great deal of conversation about the different IPAs Wing Man assembled for the party. (India Pale Ales)
An appearance by the mostly famous Blue Guy (real name Bill) completed the core tailgater team we usually assembled near the Friend’s Motel. There were a lot of photos, some that we wondered what we were thinking when we snapped them (???). I have a photo of Wing Man with either a very large cigar or one of Ron’s well-done brats. I am still not sure which it really was.
Oh, and for the record, since Ron claimed jell-o is NOT a crowd-pleaser: not a single shooter was leftover. We did have to be careful that Wing Man’s daughter didn’t think they were for kids!
None of these activities could outshine the reason we had all gathered in this place: the game! The #8 Mountaineers would face the Villanova Wildcats in this season opener and we were favored to win. With Smilin’ Bill at the helm and Noel Devine to take the running back glory this season, everyone was anxious to get the game underway.
Of course we won! 48 to 21 with 5 touchdown passes by Pat White. I’ll admit that if we are rolling over a team we were supposed to dominate, we usually leave during the 4th quarter to avoid the traffic mess. All that tailgating, cheering and the joyous feeling of victory gave me a serious appetite for Mexican food.
RON SAYS ~
(posted after the ECU Debacle)