College Life: The Idiot’s Guide To Tailgating

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I arrived home from my trip to visit a massive, football-loving state state school this weekend with what looked like a black eye that could have been the result of being punched in the face, or falling off a bike.

I had previously been of the opinion that partying was the easy part of the collegiate lifestyle. Such perceptions changed when I returned from visiting my friend. Tailgating a football game, or so I learned the hard way, can be a taxing affair for the uninitiated.

As for the facial wound under my right eye, which has by now almost healed, I'm happy to report it wasn't the result of any real physical violence. It was, however, the result of my complete ineptitude at the sport of college spirit. I'm embarrassed to report my injury is the result of a difficult-to-remove temporary tattoo, of the variety you might have applied in elementary school at a birthday party.

The Saturday morning began early with a 9 a.m. wake-up call. No matter that the game didn't start until 3:30 p.m., there was boozing and tailgating to be had before noon! Uncertain if my stomach could handle it, I hesitantly guzzled down a stale mini-bagel that had been offered as the morning meal, and slowly started to assemble my Mimosa. Something about a Mimosa in a red party cup makes me laugh. By 10:30, we had progressed to a concoction referred to as Pi Phi Punch, which involved two shots of vodka, a generous splash of champagne and a packet of Crystal Light. In other words, things got hazy well before 11. When we finally headed out from the pre-pre-pregame to the pre-pregame, someone offered to apply a temporary tattoo, obviously of the school's mascot, to my face. Given that my spirit (um, a t-shirt with the school's logo and jeans) was not up to par with the sweatbands, jerseys and face paint that surrounded me, I obliged in applying the tat to my (often sensitive) skin, just under my right eye.

The rest of the day was predictably blissful — we hopped from one large, raging daytime party to the next. The sea of monochromatically dressed people (there were lots of parents and old people hanging around these parties too, which disconcerted me slightly) playing beer pong and dancing to Katy Perry appealed to my interests, at least in the novelty of it all, on an uncharacteristically sunny day in October in the Midwest. The game was a blast too — I even pretended to know the words to the fight song.

The whole day was so enjoyable that I when I finally came to consciousness after a post-game nap (read: passed out) in the evening, I stumbled into the bathroom, only to recall that a rather hideous and large tattoo was affixed to my right cheek. I remembered, from the elementary school era, that nail polish remover was the best remover of temporary tats. Of course, I couldn't get a hold of any, and before I knew it, my friend was yelling at me that it was time to get ourselves dressed to go out to the bar. (It seemed early, but I was warned the line at the bar on game day was a force to be reckoned with, which turned out to be true. We waited for almost an hour, to once again dance to Katy Perry). So, in a hurried rush to get myself together, I grabbed the washcloth that had been lent to me for the weekend and began to scrub. I added soap and facewash, I scrubbed in circles and up and down. In retrospect, this likely hurt less than it should have, thanks to the household analgesic known as having too much alcohol in your system. Around an hour later, I noticed some redness, and some time later in the evening, I had developed what was essentially fairly severe rug burn. I am mostly healed by now, and with the aid of some concealer, I no longer look I was punched in the face. But still, explaining the saga of how I came to look like I was pushed down a flight of stairs has been slightly embarrassing, but I've been trying to rock it like a proud battle wound.

Though I failed in the spirit (or spirit removal?) department, my expert tailgating companions made sure I seemed like a regular in the delicate art of day-drinking and attending a college football game. Here are some of the tips they educated me with, which helped me seem like I knew what I was doing:

  • Don't expect to find a clean cup. Bringing your own plastic cup from would be wise.
  • Expect to be spilled on. In other words, don't wear anything nice.
  • Leave your bag behind. Most stadiums won't allow you in with a large bag or purse, so…wear something with pockets. Annoying sorority girls ironically wear neon fanny packs embroidered with their Greek letters, but we do not endorse this look.
  • It's going to be a long day, slow down your drinking. People checking tickets at the stadium will also not let you in if you're excessively trashed.
  • BYO drinks. Kegs and big, scary vats of punch are likely to be all that's around. If you prefer something else, that's your problem.
  • Leave early for the stadium. On big campuses, the stadium can often be a really long walk. Not to mention, once you get there, it's going to be a mob scene.
  • Know you might not get cell service at the game. We have no confirmation as to whether this is a regularly occuring phenomenon, but when you're in a relatively small space with over 100,000 people, wireless networks could very well get busy. This happened to me, but fortunately no one got lost.