I was hanging out at a friend’s apartment recently, a few hours before a Phillies playoff game. It was one of those fall afternoons – crisp air, clear skies, warm weather -that made you wish you were outside playing catch, walking the dog, or even raking leaves. As we sat around in the apartment, sipping beers and looking out the window, we all kind of reached a consensus – we should be drinking outside.
Within minutes we had gathered a cooler, a couple cases of beer, lots of ice, and some beach chairs. Before we knew it, we were in the parking lot, taking in a beautiful fall day, and making everyone walking around Philly very jealous. Pretty soon I brought cornhole out of my trunk and another one of our friends showed up with a radio. We were in business.
This got me thinking. My first thought was: Pretty impressive to be able to put a tailgate together in a few minutes, and pretty impressive to actually go through with tailgating literally on the corner of one of the busier streets in Philadelphia (there were horse-drawn carriages and tour buses carrying senior citizens going by every five minutes.).
My second thought was: If we can tailgate a baseball game that we are about to watch on a TV in an apartment in the heart of Philly, we can pretty much tailgate anything.
So without further ado, here are some unconventional tailgates to add to your repertoire – when sporting events and concerts just aren’t cutting it.
1. Halloween – In the spirit of the season, why not tailgate Halloween? It’s been quite a few years since I’ve actually trick or treated, and I usually spend my Halloweens watching TV and getting interrupted every thirty seconds to answer the door. Well when you look at life through tailgate-colored spectacles, Halloween could become your new favorite holiday. Go ahead and set up shop on your front step with a cooler of Pumpkin Ale and a bowl full of candy. No more standing up to open the door – let the kids come to you! You’ll get to see a bunch of dressed up kids running around the neighborhood as your entertainment, and you can start snacking on Snickers and Reese’s Cups when you get hungry. Bonus: After a couple of beers, the costumes could get pretty hilarious.
2. Fairs/Carnivals – Lots of schools and towns are having fairs this time of year. I usually end up trying to keep up with my niece and nephew, counting out how many tickets it will take to buy a beer and getting a headache from the bright lights and cotton candy. Not anymore. Now I am going to bring that trusty cooler and park my beach chair next to the funnel cake tent. I’ll stop worrying about shelling out 8 bucks for a Coors Light and drink whatever beer I want – tickets be damned! Then I’ll go run across the Wacky Shaft and maybe try and win a big giant teddy bear. After all, carnival games and tailgating go together like lamb and tuna fish (you prefer spaghetti and meatballs?).
3. Wedding Receptions – Let’s face it, the ceremony is always boring. A total snooze fest. So put on your suit and go right to the reception. While everyone else is yawning in a stuffy church, you and your friends will already be getting the party started. When the wedding party arrives, they’ll take one look at you and say “these guys know how to do it.” Hand the bride a beer and compliment her dress and she won’t care you skipped the ceremony. Then get inside and enjoy yourself. Maybe if you’re lucky you’ll end up doing the chicken dance with one of the bridesmaids.
4. Restaurants – Grilling is one of the essential parts of any respectable tailgate scene. But sometimes you just don’t feel like breaking out the charcoal or marinating the meat. The solution? Pile into the car and head down to the nearest chain restaurant or fast food place – T.G.I Friday’s, Wendy’s, Applebee’s, it’s all good. Crank up the tunes and crack a few beers open in the restaurant parking lot. Then break out your cell phone and order some ribs and wings for take-out. After a few beers and maybe a game of ladder golf, you can enjoy some great food. Most importantly, food that you did not have to cook!
5. Train Rides – I’ve got 2 immutable laws for you: Drunk driving is no good, and trains sometimes have bathrooms. Why am I telling you this? So you feel totally cool about tailgating your next long-distance train ride. The next time you and some friends are about to go from Philly to DC or New York to Boston, get down to the train station parking lot nice and early and tailgate the hell out of it. You’ll be nice and relaxed from a great afternoon, you’ll have a designated driver, and you’ll have all the toilets you could possibly want to urinate in.
So there it is – five places for you to expand your tailgating scene. Now maybe some of these are a bit unorthodox, and in some cases downright illegal, but they are worth a shot if you don’t have any football games or concerts on the horizon. Let me know if you have any unorthodox tailgating ideas of your own. And keep your eyes peeled – you might see me at your cousin’s bar mitzvah. I’ll be the guy in the parking lot with a six-pack of Schlitz.