This past weekend while watching another Hokie game (don’t even mention how tough it is to watch those games right now) my wife and I got into the weirdest of arguments. She and I disagreed on the fundamental items at a tailgate, from a top 10 list standpoint. In asking other men and some women, I have come to find this issue is truly a male vs. female divide. Which brings me to the point, what would I list as the Top 10 ‘Most Needed’ items for a tailgate? Next time around I’ll poll some female friends and provide their side of the story. Let start with the No. 10 item and work our way down to
10.) Beer/Liquor/Wine – Ok let’s be honest with ourselves here. You are probably wondering why these items aren’t number 1 or 2. Well I have a simple reason for that – and my WIFE showed me why. In the course of our argument she made a sound point that whenever we have tailgated, when have we ever been out of reach of a three block walk to a convenience store? Therefore beer is readily had. Liquor is a little testy in the states with ABC laws – but not enough to surpass the overwhelming availability of a cold brew nearby. Wine, well I won’t even discuss that. If you are drinking wine, you are wearing a sear-sucker jacket and discussing how neatly pressed your khakis are, as opposed to pounding four beers in 15 minutes while playing several enthralling rounds of flip cup like the rest of the true sports fans are.
9.) Toilet Paper – Yes sport’s fans, the only thing standing between you and getting those extra 4 or 5 burgers in your system is that pungent blue thing that someone else just destroyed an hour ago. You enter that port-o-potty and find that that someone not only destroyed the pit – but they used the last of the toilet paper. WTF!!! What do you do now? Well, if you are like me, you calmly unroll your emergency stash of ass-loving paper. And if you are with my wife, when you are done she gives you hand sanitizer. But, for the love of God, nothing will ever save the scars you just earned from dropping a deuce in one of man’s worst inventions. At least if you have your own toilet paper, women will flock to your tailgate and need to borrow it – price being seeing the rack or doing a body shot. My mind works in mysterious ways – try to keep up!
8.) Advil/Tylenol – Ok, now this is not really a ‘tailgate’ item as much as it is a post-game item. Once those hangovers kick in, the world starts spinning. Best way to solve that is to either pound another beer or down some H20 and some Advil. Trust me, this is another way to score chicks to the tailgate gents. Women are always in pain for some reason or another – so help them out. Now say a guy were to hack a limb off whilst playing beer pong – give him some Tylenol and a beer and watch the fireworks. (Just kidding, get him to the hospital.) Pain relievers are a critical element for all the small things that just come up – so BRING IT!
7.) Car or Truck – Now this might sound like the biggest no-brainer on this list – but it isn’t. I find ‘car-less’ tailgater’s annoying. Those people who wander the lots mooching (see Dave’s article on the worst tailgaters) and are without a true home. No, it is critical to me to have a home base. A place where people will walk by and admire the items I have placed in full view for their amazement. My ego needs that. Therefore, I need a beast of a vehicle to carry my various tailgating burdens. Now, some people just need a trunk – well you definitely need a trunk. So any vehicle will do.
6.) Red Cups – Hello, beautiful. How many games can you play with these? How many can you if you don’t have them? Critical. Absolutely critical to have these in your car when you fall out. From being able to mix drinks in them, to flip cup, or beer pong – the red cup is a versatile element that is unsurpassed in the tailgating world. It isn’t higher on this list due to the fact that in desperation one can just drink straight from the bottle/can.
5.) Beer Pong Table – This is purely a personal preference, but that wonderfully painted 4 x 8 sheet of plywood is the difference-maker at my tailgates. It guarantees beer pong will be played. It guarantees flip cup. Somewhere for food to be dumped if needed. And most importantly it guarantees someone will walk by and admire the ingenuity and craftsmanship – and guys, it is critical to have people drawn to your tailgate – we all know why. Failing a home-made pong table, be sure to include some kind of rectangular table – as beer gaming is a must – to ensure the stupor level you want.
4.) Tarps – This one gets a big, HUH??? Everywhere around the world men are scratching their heads, A tarp? Who needs a tarp at a tailgate? Well – this guy does. Here is why: rain doesn’t come straight down, it comes in sideways. Even if you have a glorious 10 x 10 canopy to provide ever-needed shade on a hot day – once it rains, the canopy is semi-worthless. You need sidewalls my friends. Tie up your tarp and continue drinking. It is glorious. Tailgate saving element. Ever transported your gear on the outside of your car or in the flatbed of your pick-up? Then it rained, Oopps! Your hot dog buns are soggy spit balls. Maybe you should have covered everything with a tarp. Point proven.
3.) Parking Lot – You thought the tarps got a big “huh”, think on this one for a minute. Have you ever tried to tailgate in a parking deck? How about a grass field after a big rain-storm – maybe I should say mud-pit? Granted, mud pits, alcohol and women are three great things to mix – but not prior to sitting in a stadium for three to four hours. No, a gravel or asphalt parking lot that is semi-level provides a glorious tailgate set-up spot. One often over-looked thinking is the edge of the lot. These people get the benefits of both solid ground and grass when it is semi-dry – nice place to park. Those spots are highly-coveted, thus making parking a very important element to my game day tailgate (also VT among other locations have an annoying “No Tent on Pavement policy”). Remember this: Location, Location, Location.
2.) Meat – Have you ever met a vegetarian during a tailgate? They are easy to pick out – they are the ones puking before drinking. Why are they puking you ask? Well because they asked what was on the menu and you opened your cooler to reveal so many body parts of the pig, co, and chicken that their stomach turned. They ask if you have any vegetables and you say sure, “I sliced the tomatoes for the jumbo burgers on the grill”. At that point their tofu comes out. No offense to the non-meat-eaters out there (it is pretty en vogue if you are a relative to an elf), but I am a Meatetarian. It is a personal choice. (Well-played Wendy’s, well-played). No tailgate is satisfactory until a thick, juicy hunk of animal flesh is grilling – at least not in my world. I strive to not kill anyone while cooking – but I also strive to keep them fat, drunk and happy. The best way to do that is to shove brats, steaks, burgers, and turkey legs in their direction. You are the envy of every other tailgater once you open that smoker and the smell permeates the lot. No one can help but walk by and wish you were their meat-master. Admit it people – you want meat at a tailgate. Meat to go in your beast. Which leads me to number 1 – what good is meat without,
1. Grill – Now unless you like cold chicken wings – you need fire. Man found it. Man uses it. Whether it is your $7.99 Wal-Mart special throwaway – to the tow-behind smoker with attached hotness – you need a grill. Absolute must. Nothing screams football season like that 24,000 BTU barn-burner in the back of your SUV. It makes me want to get all Tim ‘The Toolman’ Taylor and grunt. That first click of the lighter or the swipe of a match sets off a glorious flame that will take the meat from flesh to heaven. Without a grill there is no warmth in the 5 below weather you are braving for the game. Without a grill you might as well just drink because the chips will only cover you so long. Without a grill you can’t make the visiting fans jealous of how well you can cook and they wished they could figure out how you did that.
Now, this is my number 1 – what is yours, tailgaters? What do you really require to get your tailgate going, no matter what? Leave your comments below.