The Education of Pattee Brown Continues
I like to think of my life as an ongoing film. Each scene derived from the many adventures I embark upon throughout my (hopefully long) years on this planet. The name of the film – because, yes, I did title my life – would be The Education of Pattee Brown. Catchy, no?
For someone who prides themselves on having had many adventures, it’s always a surprise to discover how many very normal things I have never done. For example—I recently told my friends that I had never been to a live football game nor had I ever been “tailgating” and wasn’t really sure what exactly that meant. Of course, most of my friends, being college football fans and followers of the Maryland Terps, were appalled at this. But to be honest, when I learned that “tailgating” is when you hang out in a parking lot and eat out of your car, I was a bit appalled myself. “Why not just go to a nice restaurant after the game?” I asked honestly perplexed by the concept. Luckily, my friends at the Rotary who were organizing the group trip and tailgate still welcomed me to join them despite my clearly novice status.
Okay, now having personally experienced tailgating this past Saturday, I have to say, perhaps you all aren’t doing justice to the tailgating thing when you describe it as “eating out of the back of your car.” Pat and Danny O’Connor, our tailgating hosts for this adventure, had the MAC DADDY of tailgating set ups. There was a 10×10 booth, chafing dishes, 2 grills, tote after tote of supplies. Both breakfast before the game AND lunch after the game were served at the tailgate. There were morning cocktails, beers, sodas, waters, deserts, every kind of breakfast food you can imagine in the morning and every kind of lunch you can imagine in the afternoon. The entire “tailgate” was more equip than some of the roadside diners I have seen. The entire experience was amazing and the food was divine.
Once we got to the field I was even more excited. First of all, I got to see fighter jets fly over the field in formation…I have seen that on TV prior to games, but never live—that in-and-of-itself was kind of a big thrill for me. Then, once in the stadium, I was memorized by the sea of red—Terps fans were everywhere. The game was not the greatest I have ever seen…it was hard to watch at times—the Terps didn’t play their best that day. I have to admit, “fear the turtle” made me laugh out loud. But you have to love the fans and how emphatic they were that turtles can be tough. Seriously, I just had SO MUCH FUN being in the stands, watching the live brass band play throughout the game, seeing the cheer leaders cheer their little hearts out, seeing the fans go crazy every time the Terps did something well, it was all so exciting. The energy in that stadium was palpable.
I have to pay homage to my friend Dave Greber who sat right behind me in the stands. He and his (almost) son-in-law are Virginia alumni and they were cheering for Virginia. More than cheering, they were actually chanting some very charming Virginia chant that made me giggle to myself every time they did it. I loved that nobody threw anything at them while they chanted victory cheers for their alma mater. If they had been doing something similar at one of the many New York Mets games I have attended, I doubt they would have survived. But here, no one begrudged them their loyalty.
I have to admit, my biggest thrill was the halftime show. Was it brilliantly executed? No. Was it as cool as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade? Definitely not. But, because I was there and it was all happening live, it was totally awe provoking. To witness a sea of brass band members take the entire football field by storm and move in concert to renditions of contemporary popular music was the cat’s pajamas to me! I was smiling ear to ear the entire time they played. It was awesome!
So yeah, for those of you who attended colleges that had football games of this caliber or who have been going to football games and tailgating your entire life, I suppose you would find this all very common. But for a New York City girl whose only live sports reference is watching the Mets play at Shea Stadium and eating at my families favorite Jewish deli after the game, for me it was an incredibly unique experience. I am chalking this one up to the continuing education of Pattee Brown. And, by the way, let me add that I am really grateful to my Rotary club friends who made my first experience with tailgating so much more than most people could ever imagine. As my friend Dave Weaver said, “It was a tailgate Martha Stewart would be proud of.”