Updated: Jun 14, 2019
Buckle up, cowboy..
[Editors Note: This story is meant for purely entertainment purposes and as part of an ongoing series of blog posts to better explain how Tailgate Professional came to fruition. By no means is this a representation of tailgates offered today. Unless you want absolute chaos, then maybe we can work something out.]
The year was 2014. Location. Columbia, South Carolina via a not so speedy but oh-so-beautiful 10 hour ride down I-95 from Maryland. The crew. A smorgasbord of misfits from New York, Boston, Philly and Baltimore having absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Making our way into the RV lot (as the second RV), the weather was exactly what one could have expected it to be for the last weekend in October in SEC country. 75, sunny, and not a cloud in the sky or a worry in the world.
Excluding the following little setbacks...
No exhaust flume for our tailpipe - Cruise America's fault, not ours
Canopy tent failing to open - Manufacture error, definitely not ours
Grill refusing to light - (May or may not have been put together in the back of the RV just a few hours earlier while driving) - Maybe our bad
One chair for 10 guys - Hand up. We didn't think that one through
..our tailgate was somewhat assembled
and things were looking up. Or so we though.
Now circling back to what I mentioned above. We were the #2 group into the RV lot. We are driving a rented 6 person (with 10 guys) Cruise America RV. We have freaking sticker cut-out of a golden retriever on the outside of the side door (see picture below for exact representation). And just as we begin to settle in and get our bearings straight, the masses start to roll through the gates. The best way I could describe the situation was like in little league when you got to the field before the other team. There you are, warming up your arm, playing catch with your best friend. Confidence is at an all-time high. Not a doubt in your mind you aren't going to win and already planning on how many party size bags of Doritos and orange slices you're going to pound after the game when the snack mom comes into the dugout. But then you start to see the other team arrive. You see the first kid and think, "nah, that must be an older brother. But why is he wearing the team hat?" Then another rolls in... and another... and another. You start to get confused, concerned and maybe a little backed up in your tushy. The pit in your stomach just starts to grow and grow. You think to yourself, "This team must have the wrong field, right?" But no, no they do not. The sweat starts to drip down your pre-pubescent back and the reality starts to set in that the 10 run rule is going to be going into affect REAL quick.
In a nutshell, that pretty much describes how we all felt as the big boys started to arrive. And like I mentioned in the paragraph above, it is 100% not over-exaggerating that the below picture is exact comparison of what we were encountering. It was a combination of embarrassment, fear, anxiety and stupidity. It also dawns on me, "what if we took Bubba & Bo's tailgate spot?" "Where are they going to park the Baja Blaster 15000?" I was envisioning a 6'5 burly souther gentleman with a thick Carolina accent stepping out of his mansion on wheels, taking a quick look at us, laughing, and then demanding to know who we were and why were in their spot. Well thank god that didn't happen. Because between me and you, I only had underwear for two nights.
Again, these are legit houses on wheels parking right next us. Pretty sure some of these monstrosities were more than most houses in the area. And that is not meant to be a dig. These things were nicer than my current yuppie (Young Urban Professional) row home that I dumped all my savings into. People were actually rolling out carpets, setting up big screen TVs, building make-shift bars. And then there was us. We didn't even have a lighter to start the grill.
It was kind of like being back in college as a freshman and somehow getting into the crappy dive bar and feeling like you finally made it. You stepped up your game from high school house parties and now made your big league debut. But at the end of the day you could not look more out of place and be getting judged more by the big bad upperclassmen. But at least in college, in that moment, you had no idea you looked like an idiot. You order rounds of watered down kamikazes and expired 32oz Bud Selects or Michelob Ultras with money you didn't have and just had yourself a time. Only until you somehow "matured" three years later and look back at fuzzy facebook albums is when the second hand shame starts kick in. "Why was I wearing that shirt?" "Fitted-straight brim baseball hat?" "WHY AM I WEARING MY LANYARD WITH SWIPE CARD AND ROOM KEY!" Yikes, no bueno mi amigo. Well, take that embarrassment, but actually recognizing it in real time, times it by a thousand, and then you can maybe empathize with what we were enduring.
So with my tail between my legs and about 24 frozen hamburgers, I was just blindly staring at our somewhat assembled grill thinking all hope was lost. What the hell did I sign ourselves up for? Is it Sunday morning yet?
But alas, from the South Carolina heavens enters...
Bucky Harris. You Big. Beautiful. SOB! If there was a guardian angel of tailgating, then butter my biscuit and call me Richard because there he was standing right in front of me. Honestly, thank god we met him and that he was our next door neighbor? RV'er? Tailgater? Whatever you wanna call it, we could not have lucked out more or scripted a better encounter for the weekend. And remember how I said we were the second group in the RV lot? Guess who was numero uno?
A season ticket holder for as long as he can remember, Bucky has not missed a tailgate in 35 years. I say tailgate and not game not by mistake - he usually gives his tickets away and just watches the game from his RV. I do not know if that is a power move or not, but for the sake of this story I am going with power move. Anyway, the man can do as he pleases. And I think as you can tell from the picture above, it is not an exaggeration that if you closed your eyes and dreamt of the stereotypical SEC tailgate guy, that beautiful face would be right up there in the top google search. If you think otherwise, well my friend, you have not lived, or at least not have been to a real tailgate. "But Ryan, I went to the Hunt and tailgated. It was LIT!" No Brad, you did not go to a real tailgate. But I hope the Fireball was plentiful. The Andre was chilled. And your phone alarm was set to make sure you didn't miss your bus back to Hoboken.