It’s Tailgate Time
When I was about 8 months pregnant with my first child, I discovered that I was giving birth to a college football fan. Having not attended a game since my husband was a Red Coat, I was really out of step with the players and coaches of the Southeastern Conference – much less the rest of the NCAA.
At home alone one Saturday the Fall before he was born, I found myself in front of the television all day long.
This is not a thing that ever happens to me.
When my husband came home, I reported to him the great plays and scores of countless games. He did not know what had become of his wife – and neither did I – but we joked that the child in my womb must have taken over the remote control at a very early age.
And it was true.
Fast forward a couple of years, and that blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy had become the biggest University of Georgia fan around. As a little guy, he and his friends would gather in the yards on Saturday mornings and play through the coming matchup. During halftime, he and his brother would go upstairs to the PlayStation and recreate the first two quarters on a video game. As a middle schooler, he began following Georgia’s recruits on social media, daily encouraging the young athletes to “Commit to the G.” We have taken these boys to watch games Between the Hedges as often as we can, and nothing lights our boys’ fire like watching The Dawgs take the field.
So my children are the real football fans – but I have been known to stand on a sofa yelling loudly myself. They can tell you how much I love the “Baby Quarterbacks” and “Baby Kickers” becoming a true freshman’s biggest fan. I can’t quote you stats, and it takes me much of the season to learn the defensive players, but I am usually the one in the family who knows what time kickoff is by Wednesday of each week.
That is because my favorite part of game day starts long before Saturday arrives – planning the tailgate menu. I try to prepare a spread that honors our opponents, filling our table with the other team’s regional fare. My pre-season prep begins sometime in the summer. Often while on the beach at St Simons Island – which very well may be the Spiritual Home of the Bulldog Nation – I begin thinking through the upcoming matchups with an eye to what we will eat. Some weeks there is a special cocktail recipe (This is how a Kentucky Mule became one of my favorite beverages) and others include a rich dessert (we’ll have Mississippi Mud Pie later this season). There are days where it just doesn’t come together, of course, and we order pizza or pick up take out. Sometimes it’s just us, and other weeks we get to enjoy the company of friends – even fans who wear the wrong color (but my son says no Tennessee fans this year!).
The Dawgs already have two great wins under their belt, and I’m just getting into the action. But I’m back on my game, and eager to share what I have planned. If you have favorite tailgate traditions, I hope you’ll share them with me. If I have a great recipe, I’ll try to post it or a link to it in the comments – but mostly you can just google it, y’all. It’s what I do.
So, it’s Saturday. I hope it finds you in your favorite team’s colors celebrating a Win – unless, of course, you’re playing us.