[The tags alone made this one an automatic bump to the front page.--OPS]
I believe that tailgating is one of the great pleasures, nay, rights of being an American. It is an indispenseable part of any live sporting event.
I'm just saying, tailgating is an underrated and underappreciated facet of life. I'm preaching to the choir here, you're all fans, I know. But many people don't fathom the goodness. They don't see the beauty of getting up at 5 AM (or earlier), getting together with 5,000 (or 40,000) of your closest random strangers, cooking and drinking. They don't see why it's necessary to dress up in the appropriate colors to show that not only are you a part of this, but you are a vital cog. That it is your presence as well as your effort that will propel the team to victory (god knows our teams can't find victory by themselves). That those brats and drinks (and potato salad, and nachos, and pork chops, and eggs, and coffee, and....) are what you will do to help the team win.
For myself, I don't get to enough games anymore. But when I do, I'm a bumblebee. I've got the bibs.
(I had a little captain in me. Ok...I had a lot of captain in me. What of it?)
My friends and I have a gameless tailgate for a Bears game, where we set up the grill, coolers, and chairs and tailgate in the back yard, then listen to the game on the radio outside. And I believe that you can tailgate any event. ANY. I have tailgated a Simon and Garfunkle concert. You read that right. We got to the United Center early, set up a little grill and chairs, and sat there and ate and drank as the people were heading in. And for every woman that went in rolling her eyes, there was a guy in tow who was pleading with us to throw him a cold one. A guy who looked at us and nodded in understanding and appreciation (in all fairness, the women we were with came later and were not part of this. They were appropriately mortified by our behavior. Not that there aren't plenty of women who are tailgating masters) It was the best part of the concert. Everything should be that way. It's the bond that brings us together as fans and as friends.
But I'll be honest, I don't even think tailgating the first couple of games feels truly right. Because the main ingredient in a good tailgate isn't the food, it's not the alcohol (although that is a close second), it's the temperature. It's seeing your breath. Proper tailgating needs to happen when it's cold. When you have ice in your drink despite there being no chance that it will melt due to the temperature, because dammit, beer should come from a cooler with ice. Because a bloody mary or jack and coke have ice in them. That's the way the drink is and you don't change it just because it's 40 degrees.
I feel a little sorry for tailgaters down south (Wait. No. Fuck'em all). They can have their "worlds largest outdoor cocktail party" or the like. Those poor bastards in the SEC, Big 12 South, south ACC...they think they know tailgating, but they're really just standing around drinking. There is no difference to them between having a party inside or outside. They'll never know the karmic rightness of needing to be drinking as the sun comes up in order to prevent dying of hypothermia (in all fairness, you'll still die from hypothermia. You'll just be happy doing it. That's the difference). 4 layers deep in black and gold clothes. Seats that fit in September but won't in November. This is the joy of being a fan.
It's almost that time again. Praise the football gods for the gift that you've been given.