Aiyana was supposed to come visit this weekend, but Hurricane Isabel, which
closed BWI, laid waste to those plans. So I was stuck with a 3 day weekend and
nothing to do. LSU was playing Georgia in Baton Rouge, one of the premiere SEC games of the
year, and though I didn’t have a ticket I decided that I wanted to be as close
to the action as possible. So I woke up Saturday morning, grabbed a travel mug
of coffee and headed for Baton Rouge to tail gate with all the Red Stick crew.
Traffic began to slow on the interstate about a mile from College Drive, a
sure sign that this was going to be a big, crowded game. ESPN Game Day Live
was broadcasting from the LSU campus and there were probably over a hundred
thousand people in Baton Rouge to do nothing but party and try to see the game.
I found a parking place relatively close to where Michael, Steve, and Chuck
had their tailgate spot, so I took a nice leisurely stroll through campus in
to find them.
Every SEC football fan will tell you of the joys of tailgating at the college
of the team they hold dear, but it is important to note, that objectively speaking
(which is admittedly hard, I’m an LSU fan by way of my mother) that LSU fans
are some of the premiere tailgaters in the world. The only thing that LSU fans
take as or more seriously than LSU football is eating, and the Cajun spread
that you will find at any give tail gate party on any given Saturday is a sight
to behold and to taste. Whereas Ole Miss will do their best to accentuate their
tailgating with decorum (it is possible to find people eating off of china and
utilizing silver serving dishes at The Grove on many game days) Tiger fans go
with no such fluff. There will be a cauldron of gumbo bubbling over a gas range,
and they will use paper plates to both serve and eat on. But there will also
be a PA blasting booty-music and the ideal of partying will not be compromised
to any degree for the sake of civility or Southern manners. To that end, though,
you will find few belligerent Tiger fans when it comes to dealing with the opposing
teams fans. On my walks through campus I found both Georgia and LSU friends
making new friends with each other and sharing a meal, beer, and/or bottle of
This weekend, our friend Michael Sealing had parked the his Desert Storm-era
troop carrier (commonly referred to as a ‘Deuce’) just on the other side of
Alex Box Stadium by the rail road tracks, which made their spot pretty easy to
find. Few tailgaters have a 20 ft. long, 6 wheel, desert-khaki troop transport,
so when I saw it I knew I’d found my folks. Having found home base and said
my hellos, Chuck and I took a jaunt over to the RV parking lot to see Celynn
and Vaughn, our regular tailgating pals. Chuck couldn’t quite remember where
they were and it took a bit of wandering to find them (which was fine, the co-ed
scenery was phenomenal) but we finally did and had a short visit.
Heading back to the Deuce it was time for the rib contest. Chuck and Brocato
had both prepared their own sets of ribs to be consumed and judged by those
eating at the tailgate. Chuck narrowly edged out Brocato with his dark, sweet
ribs, versus Brocato’s light, spicy ones. Both were equally tasty (and messy,
they ruined my LSU 2001 SEC Championship shirt). By that time Otis and Neely
had showed up, and Parnell had swung by to say hello so we sat around arguing
about ribs and drinking frosty cold beer. Brocato had also smoked some dove
breasts wrapped in bacon which were incredibly tasty.
When game time rolled around all with tickets headed for the stadium and I
had to admit that I felt a bit left out. I’ve never been to LSU on a game day
and not walked with the thousands of drunk, rabid fans into the hallowed confines
of Death Valley.
Chuck was sweet enough to give his ticket to Steve to sell, and after helping
Brocato and Danielle break down the tail gate party, we went and got my car
and headed over to Kathleen’s apartment, just off campus, to watch the game.
Kathleen lives, quite literally, on the edge of campus in an old house converted
into apartments. All the apartments were open and the residents were throwing
a large house party, and my sulking about not going to the game was quickly
abated by 2 dozen LSU fans in the same boat. We at least took advantage of one
facet of our ticket-less fortune: unlike those poor rubes actually at the game
we could keep drinking beer without worrying about lack of quantity and getting
caught (there is no alcohol allowed in SEC games, though most find a way to
get at least a pint of bourbon in with some creative placement).
The game was an emotional roller coaster from which LSU emerged victorious.
As Steve and I later agreed, when you’re playing a big team you can’t expect
to just blow them out of the water the whole game, you have to play consistently
and make the big plays when the opportunity presents itself. LSU did just that.
Aside from a screen pass that went undetected and resulted in a 93 yard touch
down for Georgia, the LSU defense played solid. Our special teams stepped up
and got good yardage on kick off and punt returns. And the Georgia place kicker,
who was 1 for 4, helped us out a good bit too.
To avoid traffic Chuck and I headed to his house as the 4th quarter started.
I was in the kitchen buttering bread when Matt Mauck threw his incredible
50 yard TD pass while taking a vicious hit. I did get my bread buttered in time
to see the replay. I was in the middle of eating said toast when Webster interrupted
an impressive come-back drive by Georgia with his tip and interception which effectively
ended the game. And that was it. LSU, ranked #10 in the nation, defeated
Georgia, ranked #7. Baton Rouge was going to be a wild place Saturday evening.
As we collected everybody from the game we decided that we would head to George’s
for some dinner, only having snacked at the tail gate all day long. After a
big meal (I had an oyster po-boy and gumbo) our day began to catch up with us.
Worn out from a full day of partying and a game that was exhausting to watch
we sat around and rapped at George’s then headed back to Chuck’s and before
too long all were slumbering peacefully.
After watching the Saints play abysmally on Sunday, losing to the Titans, I
headed back to Brookhaven and spent a pleasant evening in front of the TV watching
the ESPN Sunday Night Game and a Clint Eastwood Western.
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