Written by: Nicole
The transition from summer to fall is symbolic to many people for many reasons: the start of a new school year; the time of year you promise yourself you’ll stop meeting your friends for rooftop happy hour on a Wednesday only to wake up at 4am hovering over your sink repeatedly chugging glasses of water; the time of year you give up on the Mets (if you haven’t already); the time of year you see four thousand Instagram posts of pumpkin spice lattes with the caption “lol I’m so #basic”; etc., etc., etc
Since 2009, fall has meant something else to me. Fall means college football season. I’ve gone to two big football schools over the past nine football seasons and attend/watch pretty much every game, but I somehow don’t know shit about college football. People constantly think I know things about college football being that I’ve been immersed in it for so long, but I’m honestly just here for the beer, food, and the excuse to drink at 9am on a Saturday at age 26. So yeah, here I am doing a blog on sports (kind of).
Growing up, my family wasn’t really a football family. My dad grew up in Europe and we’re all extremely short—except for my sister who should just admit she’s adopted at this point—so we were soccer people, and unfortunately Mets fans. In 2009, I graduated high school and went to the University of Miami along with
an extremely geographically diverse student population the rest of Long Island. That’s when I became to LOVE college football season. 18-years-old, living in Miami, tailgating and rooting for a team that was not only good, but was fun to watch. I ended up living in Miami for six years, where I had Canes season tickets every year and attended every game against FSU, both home and away.
In 2015, I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Yeah, I moved from the “Sunshine State” to the “State with the Largest Municipal Bankruptcy Filing in the U.S.,” otherwise known as the “State with no Sun.” Besides there being a lack of sun, an uncomfortable amount of white people, and an absence of decent food, Ann Arbor isn’t bad—especially in the fall when the entire state of Michigan congregates in the Big House, because what the fuck else is there to do here
Tailgating here is awesome, but wildly different than Miami. For starters, in Miami we took an hour bus ride to an NFL stadium which constituted part of the whole tailgating thing. Thinking back, it was often when a lot of the damage was done—just walking onto the bus with bright eyes, experiencing an hour of mayhem driving up i-95, and hopping off the emergency exit on the side of Florida Turnpike looking like Ms. Frizzle forced you to funnel 3 Natty Lights while riding the goddamn Magic School Bus. Then, we’d find an opening in the fence of parking lot and make our way to the tailgate where there would be a bunch of shit going on, which almost always included an entitled kid from the northeast “DJing,” otherwise known as “plugging an iPod into speakers.” We’d eventually head into the nearly-empty stadium (Ever been to a sporting event in Florida? Shit’s bleak), which didn’t really bother us because this wasn’t an NCAA stadium. This was a NFL stadium, which meant…more beer – imperative to a marathon. After enough was enough, we’d take the bus back to Coral Gables, where it dropped us off directly across the street from a TGIFriday’s. I cannot begin to imagine how many mozzarella sticks I ate post-football game between 2009-2014 and I’d prefer not to think about it
Back to Michigan. I should probably note that the most glaring difference between tailgating in Miami and tailgating here is my age. I’m 26 now and I literally look like a narc roaming through college students’ tailgates. Anyway, I woke up on the day of my first Michigan game SO excited and ready to go at 8am. I asked my friend where the tailgate was and she said, “So-and-so’s house.” Confused by this, I answered “Oh, not the pregame, the tailgate—like how far is the stadium?” This is when I found out that Michigan tailgates take place on the front lawns of the houses—this was going to be an issue. I was snooty and most of my law school friends went to nerd schools for undergrad so they didn’t have big football programs, and I just figured this was another weird thing about Michigan (there are A LOT). Happy to admit I was wrong. First off, Ann Arbor is wildly strict about open container laws, so they’re not really big on the whole “walk and drink to the stadium” thing. As most of you know, Florida is a lawless state, so I wasn’t used to this. Second, the stadium is a college football stadium, aka no drinking on stadium grounds. I still find this interesting because it just encourages underage kids to binge prior to the game, and also encourages 26-year-old adults to binge prior to the game and then complain about developing a headache in the third quarter. Oh, “drink some water,” you say? If you think I’m going to pay $5 for a bottle of water, you are out of your fucking mind. I’ll stick to complaining. Regardless, this encouragement provides for an interesting tailgate
Anyway, we get to the tailgate and I obviously know close to no one, as it was only my second week in Ann Arbor. It was at this point that I decided some hard alcohol would be a good idea, a quick shot-ski could bring out some of my social skills. I proceeded to drink some beers and felt like I was actually becoming friends with some people. My new friends told me about the strict open container laws and that we had to do all of our drinking at the tailgate before leaving, as in we had to compensate for lost time we would have otherwise had at the stadium. After playing 47 drinking games, we stumbled to the stadium. Shit is UNREAL. Literally feels like you’re swimming in a sea of Michigan fans, I’ve never seen anything like it in my life (DEFINITELY not at Miami). I’m going to be honest, I don’t remember a lot of that first game besides my bewilderment of the sheer number of people in one place, so that’s really it about “the game.”
My friends and I were walking home from the game, walking that fine line of “am I blacked out, or…?” when I felt an alarming need to pee. I realized I had not peed all day—it was probably 3pm at this point and you’d be surprised how many light beers I can fit into this little body over the course of a day. I was too awkward to tell my new friends, so I told them that I had to stop somewhere on my way home. I obviously didn’t have to stop anywhere, I hardly knew where I was and I didn’t know how cool a restaurant would be with a drunk, noncustomer barging into the bathroom. Once I got away from them, I sprinted home. No joke—sprinted through the packed streets of Ann Arbor. I thought I wasn’t going to make it several times (pretty sure I was gripping my crotch the entire way), but I made it to the law quad. I was so proud of myself, I made it, I made it!
And then I peed my pants. I was wearing jeans. I couldn’t stop, so I literally just sat down. Right in the middle of the law quad, on concrete, leaving a massive puddle. I looked around and miraculously no one was around. I must have beaten the crowd while I was sprinting, so in hindsight I’m grateful for pulling that weird move. I scurried home and proceeded to shower in my jeans. I didn’t tell any of those “new” friends until six months later
So yeah, it’s been a wild ride. Transitioning from Miami to Michigan tailgates was weird, yet awesome. Even though this is my final season of a nine-year tailgating streak, I hope I’m still mistaken for someone who knows about college football, and I definitely hope that I am lucky enough to experience a tailgate so fun that I pee my pants.
Written by: Nicole