It’s nearly noon on Saturday in Bloomington. Students march in crimson droves by the grass lots outside Memorial Stadium. Drops of liquid sparkle on blades of grass beneath the late morning sun — is that dew from a cool fall night, or the lukewarm dregs of a spilled White Claw?
When you attend a school that is historically awful at football, the pregame tailgate is not just an accessory; it’s a necessity. A well-executed tailgate could be the difference between getting sunburnt for four hours at a borderline unwatchable sporting event and a lovely afternoon. You’ll still get sunburnt and watch a bad game, but you won’t care.
Here are some tips to ensure no matter what unfolds on the football field, you will succeed on the tailgating field.
Make the right friends
Arguably the best tailgating strategy is knowing someone whose parents live close to Bloomington, own an SUV and love their kid enough to supply food and drinks to a bunch of college students they’ve never met. Yes, you might have to make painful small talk with a 57-year-old man about how crazy gas prices have gotten, but sometimes that’s what it takes to build inroads with the grill master.
If he wants to tell you about the moral decay of Biden’s America, you nod along until your paper plate has a brutally underdone hamburger on it.
For you, a mature adult at least 21 years old, there’s the matter of alcohol consumption. However, no matter the age, you still have to contend with all that salt and grease.
You’ll need to take out a small loan to buy a miniature bottle of Dasani in Memorial Stadium, so it’s important you don’t dehydrate yourself beforehand. Drink plenty of water, and your headache shouldn’t start until the third quarter.
Don’t be selfish
Tailgating is a communal experience, so everyone should bring something for the cornucopia atop the wobbly plastic table. Even if you have nothing to offer in the way of culinary expertise, at least bring some paper plates and plastic utensils. That might seem inconsequential, but your friends will appreciate it.
I’m not saying I’ve had to eat chunky salsa out of a Solo cup at a tailgate. However — for totally unrelated reasons — I happen to know the average adult male hand, when holding a tortilla chip, cannot reach the bottom of a Solo cup. Don’t let that same terrible fate befall your fellow tailgaters.
Please, don’t flagrantly violate the law
This one should be obvious, but it needs to be said. If you conduct yourself in a way that invites intervention from law enforcement, your tailgate will be a total bummer.
Know your limits and don’t give anyone anything they shouldn’t consume. Police regularly patrol the tailgating field, and I promise they will not find it charming if you try to appease them by offering them a cold one.
Getting arrested is a major party foul. Behave yourself, and you’ll experience all the fun tailgating has to offer.