Nichole Collins MacMillan

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Red in an Orange State

UGA v TN tailgateFolks, I’m going to need your prayers this tailgate weekend.

The menu is simple and we are game watching in the basement so no traffic issues.

But I’m hosting a pack of teenaged boys to watch the Georgia – Tennessee game.   Lord, help me!  I can smell the socks already!

I tried out the Wal-Mart grocery pick up service yesterday just for the heck of it, and the kind young man filled the back of my car with hot dogs, buns, chili sauce, and Cokes.  I feel like I could feed an army, but I’m also worried that they will go through all of that and take on my pantry before half time.  And then they will magically disappear leaving Red Solo Cups scattered across our game room.


But blowing the grocery budget and getting stains out of the sofa’s slipcovers is a worthwhile effort if it means watching my boys watch football with their friends.  The oldest has laid down the line this year, “No Tennessee fans!”  His brother has invited the cross country team following their morning race and, remember, we now live in Tennessee.  I know there will be at least one kid in orange at game time.


Last year, we enjoyed the game – well, enjoy might be a stretch – with lifelong friends who live in Knoxville.  Their son was celebrating his birthday and is the biggest Vols fan I know.  You may remember that Georgia seemed to seal the lead in the last couple of minutes so my guys were making tons of noise, and our sweet guest was sinking into the couch.  And then, with just a few seconds left on the clock, Tennessee had a beautiful play and took the game.  The emotional roller coaster for these adolescents was amusing to witness.  Both wanted to be good sports.  They wanted to be good guests and good hosts.  And they took turns being torn up about a game.  I hated to see the Dawgs lose, but I was so proud of the way these young men worked to manage their emotions.  It’s a tough thing to do when you are awash in testosterone – or so it seems from over here in the sea of estrogen.  My son has already confessed to me this week that sometimes he just does better if he can watch the game by himself.  It made me recall the time we hosted a Georgia – Florida party and there was one lone Florida fan in the group, a former player.  When the game was tight, he claimed the screen on the back porch for himself and just paced, and paced, and paced.  What funny intensity we bring to our fall Saturdays!


We’re feeling a bit like expats watching our home team play our neighbor state rivals from a Chattanooga zip code, so for this one game, I won’t be honoring the opponent with the tailgate spread.  The game day menu is all about the best of Georgia.  A Junk Yard Dog is my recreation of a Scramble Dog from the Dinglewood Pharmacy in Columbus where I grew up.  I’m being a little lazy and using canned chili this time, but the best part is topping it with those tiny Cheeze-Its instead of the oyster crackers used in The Lieutenant’s version.  I’ve scouted a roadside place to get boiled peanuts (better buy more Solo cups for those shells!), and if my children don’t discover the Cokes I’ve squirreled away before tomorrow afternoon, we’re having Coke floats to celebrate a win.


Meanwhile, I might be as nervous as Nick Chubb’s mama to think about him taking the field again at Neyland Stadium after his injury two years ago.  My oldest was there to see it, and I’m pretty sure that fuels his commitment to a Red Out in our house.  Wherever you are watching this weekend, may your team play well and the fans around you be well behaved and full of joy.  May your table be spread with foods to fuel your cheers, and may you make good memories with people you love.

Go Dawgs!


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